Meatball Subs

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Meatball Subs are filled with juicy, tender homemade meatballs that have been simmered in a delicious marinara sauce, loaded into a toasted bun and topped off with melty Italian cheese.

Pair these meatball subs with this Italian salad, a fruit salad, or this cucumber salad.

Overhead image of Meatball Subs on a plate, ready to eat.

Meatballs are so versatile and can be the stars in so many different meals. One of my boys’ favorites is a big meatball sub! With extra cheese and plenty of marinara of course!

While today’s recipe features beef meatballs, you can also make Meatball Subs with turkey meatballs. They’re perfect if you make a big batch of crockpot meatballs and are looking for ways to use those meatballs throughout the week. And Meatball Subs are the best thing to feed a group with because they’re always a crowd pleaser!

Meatball subs are fairly easy to make, especially if you use store-bought marinara sauce (instead of making a marinara from scratch). 


Process shot-- Image of the meat being mixed with the seasonings for Meatball Subs.

What toppings go on a Meatball Sub?

How you choose to top your meatball sub is totally up to you. For us, a must-have is a good hearty, crusty roll smothered in butter and toasted. A good handful of grated cheese is also always on our subs. 

Some other ideas include thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced green or sweet bell peppers, baby spinach, sweet corn and a little mayo.

A little drizzle of oil and vinegar also makes a good topping and more complex flavors.

Fresh herbs such as parsley or basil deliver a nice freshness to Meatball Subs. A few spoonfuls of basil pesto also adds a fresh twist.

For some extra heat, add some red pepper flakes. For an extra hit of salt, add some grated Parmesan cheese.

Process shot-- image of the raw meat being rolled into balls.

Process shot-- Image of the meatballs simmering in the marinara sauce.

Meatball Sub tips, continued

  • Don’t overmix. If you overmix or overhandle the meat, it will make the meatballs tough. Mix until ingredients are JUST combined.
  • Roll meatballs all the same size. Make sure the meatballs are generally the same size, so they cook evenly.  Remember as you roll the balls to handle as little as possible.
  • Use a NONSTICK skillet: These meatballs stick and subsequently fall apart on cast iron skillets. I’ve never had a problem with these meatballs falling apart in a nonstick skillet.
  • Toast the bread. Use a pastry brush to rub olive oil or melted butter over the bread and toast it before adding the meatballs and sauce. This keeps the bread from getting soggy and adds delicious flavor.


I like to use a 1/8 measuring cup or cookie scoop when making meatballs. This helps keep them all the same size.

Process shot-- image of the subs on a sheet pan, ready to be baked with cheese on top.

Reheating Meatball Subs

The longer the meatballs and marinara sit on the bread, the soggier the bread gets. Store the meatballs and sauce separately from the bread, and you’ll have no issues.

If the bread was already topped with the meatballs and marinara, wrap it in foil and then put it in the oven at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes. The foil will keep it from burning/toasting any further.

Up-close image of Meatball Subs with melty cheese on top.

More easy dinner ideas

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Meatball Subs

5 from 8 votes
Meatball Subs are filled with juicy and tender homemade meatballs that have been simmered in a delicious marinara sauce, loaded into a toasted bun and topped with melty Italian cheese.
Print Recipe

Meatball Subs

5 from 8 votes
Meatball Subs are filled with juicy and tender homemade meatballs that have been simmered in a delicious marinara sauce, loaded into a toasted bun and topped with melty Italian cheese.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword meatball subs
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings (about 4 meatballs per sub)
Calories 604kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $8.93


  • 1/3 cup yellow onion grated on a cheese grater
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated (on a microplane if possible)
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced (on a microplane if possible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley finely minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, separated (plus more for brushing on the rolls)
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce
  • 6 crusty sub rolls
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded Provolone or Italian 4-cheese blend (or to taste, add as much cheese as you'd like)
  • Shredded basil optional


  • MEATBALLS: Using the large holes on a cheese grater, finely grate the onion. Add to a large bowl along with the milk, panko, Parmesan cheese, ground beef, minced garlic, dried oregano, fresh parsley, egg, and salt and pepper to taste (I add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper). Mix until ingredients are combined. Add in the ground beef and fold with your hands until combined. Handle as little as possible and don't overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough.
  • MEATBALLS, CONTINUED: Measure out about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and gently form a ball. Repeat with all of the meat mixture. You should get around 22-25 meatballs. Make sure they are all about the same size so they'll cook evenly.
  • COOK: In a large nonstick skillet, add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat to medium high and then add in about 1/2 of the meatballs. Gently turn the meatballs over and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until they are browned all over (but not cooked through). Remove to a plate. And another 1 and 1/2 tablespoons oil and repeat with the rest of the meatballs. Remove all meatballs to the plate.
  • COOK CONTINUED: In the same skillet, add the entire jar of marinara sauce. Return the cooked meatballs to the pan and stir to cover them with the sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer for 8-12 minutes, turning every now and again, or until completely cooked through (food thermometer registers 165 degrees F).
  • ROLLS: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the rolls in half lengthwise and brush with olive oil. Place on a large tray and bake for 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  • ASSEMBLE: Remove subs from the oven and set the oven temperature to high BROIL. Pile meatballs and sauce onto sub rolls -- 3 to 4 meatballs per sandwich. Top with shredded cheese and place under the broiler to melt cheese (watch carefully-- it only takes 1-2 minutes). Top with shredded basil and enjoy hot.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 604kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 773mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 584IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 364mg | Iron: 13mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


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  1. These are excellent! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I want to make these and freeze them to have one hand once my second baby comes in a few weeks, but I’m trying to figure out if I should freeze them prior to cooking them in the sauce or just freeze them after that?

  2. 5 stars
    I made these for supper yesterday. They were excellent. My son said he didnt even like meatballs but loved these. Left with some for his supper tonight. Your shrimp tacos are also excellent. Look forward to trying more of your recipes!!

    1. So thrilled to hear these were a hit and glad you enjoyed the shrimp tacos 🙂 Thanks for the comment and review!

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