Homemade Meatball Sub Recipe

When it comes to sub sandwiches, there are plenty of fillings that go great between the buns. In many cases, people make subs with deli meat, and they're undoubtedly delicious. But if you want to take your sub sandwich game to a new level and combine the hoagie roll with hearty meatballs, then this recipe is a must-try. The mozzarella on top of the sub is the icing (or, in this case, cheese) on the cake.

Recipe developer Michelle McGlinn came up with this amazing meatball sub that is sure to be a hit. "I really love making homemade meatballs and sauce. There's something so special about carefully preparing each meatball from scratch and covering [them] in a rich, flavorful sauce," McGlinn raves. She also loves how this recipe, inspired by "rustic, traditional meatball and marinara," is so quick and simple.

Keep reading to find out how to make this delicious meal.

Gather the homemade meatball sub ingredients

There are quite a few items you will need for these homemade meatball subs. Grab some ground pork, ground beef, an egg, breadcrumbs, freshly grated Parmesan, a large onion, garlic cloves, tomato paste, tomato purée, sugar, mozzarella slices, and of course, hoagie rolls. As for additional seasonings, we'll be working with salt, black pepper, thyme, oregano, and dried basil. If you like, you can also use fresh basil as an additional garnish. "You could also swap the ½ pound pork and ½ pound beef for meatloaf mix," McGlinn notes, as it could potentially "be cheaper and easier than buying separate meats."

Once you have all the ingredients, you're ready to make this delicious meatball sub.

Make the meatball mixture

Set your oven to 400 F, letting it preheat while you do the rest of the prep work.

In a large bowl, get started on the meatball mixture. Toss in the ground beef, ground pork, ½ tablespoon salt, ½ tablespoon pepper, thyme, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan. If you'd prefer, you can replace the beef and pork with ground chicken. "With chicken, you will have to cook the meatball all the way through — no pink or undercooked parts — so keep that in mind if swapping the meats," McGlinn says.

Use your hands to combine the meatball ingredients until well incorporated. Just be careful not to overwork the meat.

Roll and bake the meatballs

Once you finish mixing the meat, prepare your baking sheet by covering it with foil; this will help catch the grease and make cleanup easier. Add a wire rack on top of the sheet and spray with cooking spray to avoid having the meat stick to it.

Using your hands, roll the meatballs into 1-inch balls. The mixture should yield 16 balls, so keep that in mind as you divvy up the meat. You will need four meatballs for each sandwich. 

Once your oven has preheated, pop in the baking sheet with the meatballs and bake them for 15 minutes. (Keep the oven on after they're done, though, as you'll need to use it again.)

Make the sauce for the meatballs

It's time to multitask. While the meatballs bake, you can put together the sauce. Grab a medium-sized skillet and place it over medium heat. Add a spray or drizzle of oil, then toss in the onions and cook until translucent.

Once the onions soften, add the garlic and cook until fragrant; this should only take about 1 minute. Then, add the tomato paste. Use the back of a spoon to combine the paste with the garlic and onions and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the paste starts sticking to the skillet.

Add the remaining sauce ingredients

Pour the tomato purée into the sauce mixture and stir to combine. Add oregano, salt, pepper, sugar, and dried basil. Stir to combine and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Place the meatballs in the sauce

Once the sauce begins to simmer, stir in the remaining Parmesan cheese; if you have the rind from the Parmesan saved, you can also use that to add even more flavor the sauce. Then add the meatballs to the pan, rolling them so they're coated in the red sauce. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes. The meatballs may still be slightly pink in the center, but that's totally fine.

Assemble the sandwich

Remove the wire rack and foil from the baking sheet. Fill each hoagie roll with four meatballs and cover them in sauce. Place the mozzarella slices over the meatballs, close the sandwiches, then pop them into the oven until the cheese melts. This should only take a few minutes.

Once you remove the meatballs, you can then garnish the subs with fresh basil.

Serve and enjoy

It's time to dig in! These sandwiches are plenty filling on their own, but McGlinn also provides a few of her favorite serving suggestions. "Usually with subs, I think of chips or fries, but if you're serving this for dinner, I'd actually recommend serving this with a salad," McGlinn notes. "A big house salad (like the salads at Olive Garden) or a simple Caesar salad would be perfect with this tomato-and-meat-heavy main."

McGlinn recommends keeping the sides lighter since the sandwich is pretty filling. You may even have some for the next day: "If using the leftovers for lunch, a side of potato chips is plenty easy and delicious!"

Homemade Meatball Sub Recipe
5 from 26 ratings
Hearty meatballs, rich tomato sauce, and melty mozzarella all stuffed into a hoagie roll. Sounds tempting, no? Learn how to prepare a homemade meatball sub.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
4
Subs
meatball sub on a plate
Total time: 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt, divided
  • 1 ½ tablespoons black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 ½ tablespoons oregano, divided
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ large onion, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups tomato purée
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 4 hoagie rolls
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
Optional Ingredients
  • Parmesan rind
  • 4 leaves fresh basil
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Combine pork, beef, ½ tablespoon salt, ½ tablespoon pepper, thyme, ½ tablespoon oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, and ¼ cup Parmesan in a large bowl.
  3. Using your hands, combine meatball ingredients until well incorporated. Be careful not to overwork the meat.
  4. Prepare a baking sheet with foil, placing a wire rack on top. Spray the wire rack with cooking spray. Roll meatball mixture into 1-inch balls. You should have 16 balls (4 per sandwich).
  5. Bake meatballs for 15 minutes; keep the oven on after they are done.
  6. While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and add a light drizzle or spray of oil. Cook diced onions until translucent.
  7. Once the onions are softened, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and combine, using the back of the spoon to help incorporate the paste. Cook until the paste begins to stick to the skillet, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add tomato purée and stir well to combine. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, sugar, and dried basil. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  9. Just before adding meatballs, stir in the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan as well as the rind, if using.
  10. Add meatballs to the sauce, rolling them to coat. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the meatballs to finish cooking. They may be slightly pink in the center, even if cooked through.
  11. Remove wire rack and foil from baking sheet. Fill hoagie rolls with four meatballs each and cover with sauce. Place mozzarella over meatballs. Bake the subs on the baking sheet until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Garnish the subs with fresh basil if desired.
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