Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe With Marinara Sauce

Craving a classic and hearty sandwich? Look no further than our Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe with Marinara Sauce. Packed with tender and flavorful meatballs smothered in a rich and tangy marinara sauce, this dish is guaranteed to satisfy your comfort food cravings. With a crispy sub roll and a generous sprinkle of melted cheese, every bite is a delightful explosion of flavors. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to indulge in this timeless favorite that is sure to leave you craving for more.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe With Marinara Sauce


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

Ground beef

Ground beef is the star of this recipe. Choose a good-quality beef with a fat content of around 85% for juicy and flavorful meatballs.


Breadcrumbs help bind the meatball mixture together and add texture. You can use store-bought breadcrumbs or make your own by processing toasted bread slices.


An egg acts as a binder, keeping the meatballs from falling apart. It also adds moisture and richness to the mixture.

Parmesan cheese

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


Garlic provides a robust and aromatic taste to the meatball mixture. Finely mince the garlic for the best flavor distribution.


Fresh parsley adds a hint of freshness and a vibrant green color to the meatball mixture. Finely chop the parsley leaves before adding them to the mixture.

Salt and pepper

Seasoning with salt and pepper enhances the flavor of the meatballs. Adjust the amount to your taste preferences.

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Sub rolls

A good quality sub roll is essential for a perfect meatball sub. Look for rolls that have a soft interior and a slightly crispy crust.

Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella cheese adds a gooey and melty element to the meatball sub. Use sliced or shredded mozzarella, depending on your preference.

Marinara sauce

Marinara sauce brings all the flavors together and adds a delicious tomato tang to the sub. You can use store-bought or homemade marinara sauce for convenience and taste.


To make a mouthwatering meatball sub, follow these simple steps:

Mixing the meatball mixture

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix the ingredients well with your hands until they are thoroughly combined. Be careful not to overmix, as it can result in tough meatballs.

Forming the meatballs

Take small portions of the meatball mixture and roll them into balls about the size of a golf ball. Gently shape them so they hold together but avoid compacting them too firmly. Place the formed meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cooking the meatballs in the oven

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes or until they are cooked through and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F. Turning them halfway through cooking ensures even browning.

Preparing the sub rolls

While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the sub rolls by slicing them horizontally, leaving one side still attached to act as a hinge. This allows you to easily fill the sub with meatballs and other toppings.

Assembling the meatball sub

Once the meatballs are cooked, place a few meatballs on the bottom half of each sub roll. Spoon marinara sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese. You can also add extra toppings like sautéed onions, bell peppers, or sliced olives.

Toasting the sub

Place the assembled sub sandwiches on a baking sheet and transfer them back to the oven. Broil for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the sub rolls are lightly toasted. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.


Now that your meatball subs are ready, it’s time to think about how to serve them best.

Suggestions for sides

A side of crispy french fries or sweet potato fries complements the meatball sub perfectly. For a healthier option, serve the sub with a side of mixed greens or a refreshing cucumber salad. Coleslaw or pickles also make great accompaniments.

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Presentation tips

To make your meatball subs look even more appetizing, consider garnishing them with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley or basil. This adds a pop of color and freshness. Serve the subs on a wooden cutting board or a festive platter to make them visually appealing.


While the traditional meatball sub is fantastic, you can also try some creative variations to suit different dietary preferences or restrictions.

Turkey meatballs

For a leaner option, substitute ground beef with ground turkey to make turkey meatballs. It’s a healthier alternative that still delivers delicious flavor.

Vegan meatballs

If you’re following a plant-based diet or have vegan guests, you can use plant-based ground meat alternatives to make vegan meatballs. Combine ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas, oats, and spices to create a delicious vegan meatball mixture.

Gluten-free meatballs

To make gluten-free meatballs, simply replace regular breadcrumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed gluten-free crackers. Ensure all other ingredients, including the sub rolls and marinara sauce, are also gluten-free.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe With Marinara Sauce

Tips and Tricks

Making the perfect meatball sub requires a few tips and tricks. Here are some to make your cooking experience even better:

Choose the right ground beef

When selecting ground beef, choose a blend that has around 15-20% fat content. This ensures that the meatballs remain moist and flavorful.

Add a touch of herbs and spices

To elevate the flavor of the meatballs, mix in some dried herbs like oregano, thyme, or basil. You can also experiment with spices like paprika or cayenne pepper for a touch of heat.

Be gentle when forming the meatballs

When forming the meatballs, avoid overworking the mixture. Gently roll them into balls without applying too much pressure, as this can lead to tough and dense meatballs.

Let the meatballs rest before cooking

Allowing the meatballs to rest for about 10 minutes before cooking helps them hold their shape and develop better flavors.

Choose the right sub rolls

Look for sub rolls that have a soft interior to absorb the flavors of the meatballs and marinara sauce, while still having a slightly crispy crust. Freshly baked rolls from a local bakery are an excellent choice.

Use a mix of cheeses

For a more indulgent meatball sub, mix different types of cheeses like mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar. This combination creates a gooey and flavorful cheese topping.

Warm up the marinara sauce before assembling

Before spooning the marinara sauce over the meatballs, warm it up on the stovetop or in the microwave. This ensures that the sauce is hot when the meatball sub is served.

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Don’t overload the sub roll

While it may be tempting to pile on as many meatballs as possible, be mindful not to overload the sub roll. This can result in a messy and difficult-to-eat sandwich. A moderate amount of meatballs with toppings is perfect.

Add a touch of fresh herbs for garnish

To add a finishing touch of freshness, sprinkle your meatball sub with some freshly chopped herbs like parsley or basil. This not only enhances the presentation but also adds a subtle burst of flavor.

Use toothpicks to secure the sub

If you find that your meatball sub doesn’t stay closed, you can use toothpicks to secure it. Just make sure to remove them before taking a bite!

History of Meatball Sub

Origin of the meatball

Meatballs have a rich history that dates back thousands of years. They have been a popular dish in various cultures, including Ancient Rome, Persia, and China. Different regions have their own versions of meatballs, often made with local ingredients and spices.

Development of the meatball sub

The meatball sub, also known as a meatball hero or grinder, is believed to have originated in the United States, particularly in Italian-American communities. It emerged as a way to use leftover meatballs and turn them into a filling and delicious sandwich.

The exact origin of the meatball sub is unclear, but it likely gained popularity in the early 20th century. Today, it is a beloved comfort food enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe With Marinara Sauce

Healthier Options

If you’re looking for healthier alternatives for your meatball sub, consider the following options:

Leaner meat options

Instead of using traditional ground beef, you can opt for leaner meats like ground turkey or chicken. These alternatives have less fat while still providing a satisfying flavor.

Whole wheat sub rolls

Swap out regular sub rolls for whole wheat ones to increase the fiber content and add nutritional value to your meatball sub.

Reduced-fat cheeses

If you’re watching your calorie intake or want to reduce the saturated fat content, try using reduced-fat or part-skim mozzarella cheese. You can also explore other lower-fat cheese options like feta or goat cheese.

Homemade marinara sauce

Making your own marinara sauce allows you to control the ingredients and reduce the sodium and sugar content. Use fresh tomatoes, herbs, and spices for a healthier and more flavorful sauce.


There’s nothing quite like biting into a warm and flavorful meatball sub. The combination of tender meatballs, melted cheese, and tangy marinara sauce nestled in a soft sub roll is a comfort food dream come true.

With the right ingredients, simple preparation steps, and a few helpful tips, you can easily recreate this classic dish at home. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or explore variations to suit different dietary preferences, the meatball sub is sure to satisfy your cravings and delight your taste buds.

So why not gather the necessary ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and embark on a meatball sub adventure? Your friends and family will be grateful, and you’ll become a hero in your own kitchen.

Traditional Meatball Sub Recipe With Marinara Sauce


  • “Classic Meatball Subs” from
  • “The History of Meatballs: Where Did This Delicious Dish Originate?” from The Kitchen
  • “The Origin of the Sub Sandwich: Immigrants & Their Foodways” from