Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe For A Crowd-pleasing Meal

Craving a hearty and crowd-pleasing meal? Look no further than this delectable traditional meatball sub recipe that is sure to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. With tender and flavorful meatballs, smothered in rich marinara sauce and topped with melted cheese, this meal is the perfect combination of comfort and satisfaction. Whether you’re hosting a game night or simply looking for a satisfying weeknight dinner, this recipe is guaranteed to be a hit. So grab your ingredients and get ready to impress your loved ones with this mouthwatering dish.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe For A Crowd-pleasing Meal


To make a delicious meatball sub, you will need the following ingredients:

1. Ground beef

Ground beef is the star of the show when it comes to meatball subs. Opt for lean ground beef to keep the meatballs tender and juicy.

2. Bread crumbs

Bread crumbs are essential for binding the meatballs together and adding texture. You can use store-bought bread crumbs or make your own by toasting and grinding stale bread.

3. Onion

Onions add flavor and moisture to the meatballs. Chop a fresh onion finely to ensure it blends well with the other ingredients.

4. Garlic

Garlic is another key ingredient that adds depth and aroma to the meatballs. Use freshly minced garlic for the best flavor.

5. Eggs

Eggs act as a binder and help hold the meatball mixture together. Be sure to beat the eggs before adding them to the other ingredients.

6. Milk

Milk is used to soak the bread crumbs and keep the meatballs nice and moist. It adds a subtle creaminess to the mixture.

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7. Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese adds a savory and nutty flavor to the meatballs. Grated Parmesan works best for this recipe.

8. Italian seasoning

Italian seasoning is a blend of dried herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme. It adds the classic Italian flavor to the meatballs.

9. Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper are essential for seasoning the meatballs. Use them according to your taste preferences.

10. Marinara sauce

Marinara sauce is the classic Italian tomato sauce that enhances the flavor of the meatballs. You can use store-bought marinara or make your own from scratch.

11. Hoagie rolls

Hoagie rolls are the perfect vessel for the meatballs and sauce. They are soft on the inside and crusty on the outside, providing a satisfying texture.

12. Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella cheese is the final touch that adds gooey goodness to the meatball subs. Use shredded mozzarella or slices to top your subs.


Before diving into the cooking process, make sure you have all your ingredients ready and prepped. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Make the meatballs

Start by combining the ground beef, bread crumbs, finely chopped onion, minced garlic, beaten eggs, milk, grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.

2. Cook the meatballs

Once your meatball mixture is ready, it’s time to cook them. You can choose to bake, fry, or even simmer them in marinara sauce. Each method provides a unique flavor and texture. Traditional meatball subs often include simmered meatballs in marinara sauce.

3. Prepare the marinara sauce

While your meatballs are cooking, you can prepare the marinara sauce. If you decide to make your own, sauté some onions and garlic in a saucepan, then add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and a variety of seasonings such as basil, oregano, and a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity. Let the sauce simmer and develop its flavors.

4. Assemble the subs

When your meatballs and marinara sauce are ready, it’s time to assemble the subs. Start by slicing the hoagie rolls lengthwise, leaving one side slightly hinged. Place the meatballs in the rolls and ladle the marinara sauce over them. Top with shredded or melted mozzarella cheese.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe For A Crowd-pleasing Meal


Now that you have all your ingredients prepped and ready, here’s a step-by-step guide to making your delicious meatball subs:

1. Making the meatballs

  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, finely chopped onion, minced garlic, beaten eggs, milk, grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Do not overmix, as this can result in tough meatballs.
  • Shape the mixture into meatballs of your desired size. Traditionally, meatballs for subs are around 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter.

2. Cooking the meatballs

  • There are various ways to cook meatballs, depending on your preference. You can choose to bake, fry, or simmer them in marinara sauce.
  • To bake the meatballs, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the meatballs on a greased baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes or until they are cooked through and browned.
  • If you prefer frying, heat a pan with some oil over medium heat. Cook the meatballs, turning them occasionally, until they are browned on all sides and cooked through.
  • For simmering in marinara sauce, gently drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce and allow them to cook for about 20 minutes. This method infuses the meatballs with extra flavor.
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3. Preparing the marinara sauce

  • To make your own marinara sauce, start by sautéing finely chopped onions and minced garlic in a saucepan with some olive oil until they become translucent and fragrant.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, dried basil, dried oregano, and a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Stir the sauce well and let it simmer on low heat for around 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

4. Assembling the subs

  • Take the hoagie rolls and slice them lengthwise, leaving one side slightly connected to act as a hinge.
  • Place the cooked meatballs into the rolls, ensuring they are nestled comfortably.
  • Ladle the marinara sauce generously over the meatballs, coating them evenly.
  • Top it off with shredded or melted mozzarella cheese, allowing it to melt and become gooey.
  • Optionally, you can add other toppings such as sliced onions, peppers, or even additional Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

Tips and Tricks

To make your meatball subs truly exceptional, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

1. Use a combination of ground beef and pork

For extra flavor and texture, consider using a combination of ground beef and ground pork. The mixture of the two meats adds a delightful richness to the meatballs.

2. Soak the breadcrumbs in milk

To ensure soft and tender meatballs, soak the bread crumbs in milk before adding them to the meat mixture. This technique adds moisture and helps prevent the meatballs from drying out.

3. Sauté the onions and garlic before adding to the meat mixture

Sautéing the onions and garlic before incorporating them into the meatball mixture enhances their flavors, making them more aromatic and delicious.

4. Add grated Parmesan cheese for extra flavor

Grated Parmesan cheese adds another layer of savory goodness to the meatball mixture. It contributes depth and enhances the overall taste of the meatballs.

5. Use fresh herbs for a vibrant taste

While dried Italian seasoning works well in this recipe, adding fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, or parsley can take the taste to a whole new level. Finely chop the herbs and mix them into the meatball mixture for a vibrant burst of flavor.

6. Toast the hoagie rolls for added crunch

For an extra crispy texture, lightly toast the hoagie rolls before assembling the subs. This step adds a satisfying crunch and prevents the bread from becoming soggy.

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7. Don’t skimp on the marinara sauce

The marinara sauce is the soul of the meatball sub. Generously ladle the sauce over the meatballs, ensuring they are well-coated. The sauce adds moisture, flavor, and that authentic Italian touch.

8. Top the subs with melted mozzarella cheese

To achieve that classic, gooey cheese pull, melt mozzarella cheese on top of the meatballs. Whether using shredded or sliced cheese, make sure it covers the meatballs entirely and melts to perfection.

9. Serve with a side of crispy fries

Complementing your meatball subs with a side of crispy fries adds an extra element of indulgence. The combination of the hearty subs and crunchy fries is a crowd-pleasing match made in food heaven.

10. Customize with your favorite toppings

Feel free to get creative and customize your meatball subs with your favorite toppings. Sliced onions, bell peppers, pickles, or even some spicy jalapenos can add a personalized touch to suit your taste preferences.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe For A Crowd-pleasing Meal


While the traditional meatball sub is a classic favorite, there are several delicious variations you can explore:

1. Turkey meatballs with cranberry sauce

For a unique twist on the traditional meatball sub, substitute the ground beef with ground turkey. Serve the turkey meatballs with a tangy cranberry sauce for a flavor explosion that combines the best of Thanksgiving and Italian cuisine.

2. Vegetarian meatballs with marinara and vegan cheese

If you’re vegetarian or looking for a meat-free option, try making vegetarian meatballs using ingredients like lentils, mushrooms, or tempeh. Pair them with marinara sauce and vegan cheese for a satisfying and cruelty-free meatball sub experience.

3. Spicy meatballs with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese

If you prefer a little heat, amp up the spice factor by adding chopped jalapenos to the meatball mixture. Top the subs with melted pepper jack cheese for an extra kick of flavor and a hint of smokiness.

4. BBQ meatballs with smoky barbecue sauce

For a tangy twist, swap out the marinara sauce with smoky barbecue sauce. Cook the meatballs in the sauce to infuse them with a rich and smoky flavor. Top with caramelized onions for a sweet and savory combination.

5. Swedish meatballs with creamy gravy

Embrace Swedish cuisine by making Swedish meatballs as a unique variation. Serve them with a creamy gravy made from beef broth, heavy cream, and a touch of Worcestershire sauce. Pair these delectable meatballs with lingonberry jam for an authentic Scandinavian experience.


Here are some frequently asked questions regarding meatball subs:

1. Can I freeze the meatballs?

Yes, you can freeze cooked meatballs. Allow them to cool completely before placing them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw, simply place them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

2. How long can I store the leftovers?

Leftover meatballs and subs can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days. Make sure to store them in airtight containers to retain their freshness.

3. Can I use store-bought marinara sauce?

Absolutely! If you’re short on time or prefer the convenience, using store-bought marinara sauce is perfectly fine. However, making your own marinara sauce allows you to adjust the flavors and infuse it with your desired seasonings.

4. Can I use a different type of bread for the sub?

While hoagie rolls are the traditional bread choice for meatball subs, you can experiment with different types of bread. French baguettes, ciabatta rolls, or even sourdough bread can be used to add a unique twist to your meatball subs.

5. Can I make the meatballs in advance?

Yes, you can make the meatballs in advance to save time. Prepare the meatballs as instructed, then place them on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or airtight container for long-term storage. This way, you can have homemade meatball subs whenever you desire, with minimal effort and preparation required.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe For A Crowd-pleasing Meal


Making traditional meatball sub is a delicious and crowd-pleasing meal that combines tender and flavorful meatballs with savory marinara sauce, all nestled within a soft and crusty hoagie roll. Whether you follow the classic recipe or explore variations, you can’t go wrong with this comforting favorite. Remember to customize with your favorite toppings, serve with a side of crispy fries, and enjoy the perfect meatball sub that will leave everyone craving for more.