These Italian Meatball Subs are going to be your family's new sandwich obsession! Handmade beef and Italian sausage meatballs cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce and served on top of toasted bread rolls with melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It doesn't get any better!
Growing up my family always used to order out from this restaurant in Arlington called Joe's Pizza, Pasta and Subs. The pizza was fantastic, the salad dressing was out of this world, and oh those Italian meatball subs. They were simply sublime.
This recipe is my take on a homemade Italian style meatball submarine sandwich and y'all, it is just so delicious. One batch of meatballs will make between 7 and 9 sandwiches but it's super easy to double or even triple this recipe to feed a crowd.
While I personally LOVE these meatballs on a sandwich, the meatballs and sauce are also fantastic served over pasta. You decide. Either way you're in for a delicious meal!
Other Italian inspired recipes you will love.
- Mixing bowls: These Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowls are my favorite!
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cutting board and knife
- Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot with lid: I love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven and use it almost every day!
- Baking sheet
- Pastry brush (optional): This is for brushing olive oil on the rolls but you can always just drizzle some on if you don't have a pastry brush.
- Ground beef: 80/20 fat ratio is ideal but 85/15 also works. I wouldn't recommend using lean ground beef for this recipe as the fat adds so much flavor.
- Ground Italian sausage: Mild, sweet or hot all work. Use you favorite brand and style.
- Fresh garlic
- Parmesan cheese
- Parmesan rind (optional)
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Italian Seasoning
- Olive oil
- Tomato paste
- Crushed tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Fresh basil
- Salt & pepper
To assemble the meatball sandwiches
- Hoagie rolls, buns or large French bread loaf
- Olive oil
- Garlic powder (optional)
- Fresh mozzarella
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil (optional)
Step by Step Instructions
Time needed: 1 hour and 10 minutes.
How to make Italian Meatball Subs:
- Add ground beef and ground Italian sausage to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Do not mix at this time.
- Add all remaining meatball ingredients into a separate bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Add the mixed ingredients into the bowl with the meat and use your hands to gently combine. Be careful not to overwork the meat.
- Roll out 2 tbsp meatballs and set aside on a plate.
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering. Sear the meatballs in two batches. Place on a plate and set aside.
When the oil is hot add a single layer of meatballs and sear undisturbed for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Then flip to the other side and sear for an additional 1-2 minutes. Then remove and repeat with the second batch until all meatballs have been browned. Move to a plate and set aside.
- Cook onions in meatball drippings then add garlic, Italian seasoning and tomato paste.
- Pour in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and water. Season with salt & pepper and add Parmesan rind to the sauce (optional).
- Nestle meatballs in the sauce and bring to a low boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. The taste the sauce and season with salt & pepper. Remove from the heat, add fresh basil and set aside.
- While the meatballs cook, preheat the oven the 400 degrees.
- Brush the inside of the rolls or buns with a little olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes to toast. Remove from the oven.
- Assemble the sandwiches by layering thinly sliced mozzarella cheese and topping with sauce, meatballs, more sauce, more mozzarella slices and a sprinkle of Parmesan.
- Place the assembled sandwiches on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 400 degree F for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Garnish the subs with fresh basil and enjoy!
My favorite thing to serve with these Italian meatballs subs is a nice fresh salad with an Italian style balsamic or tomato vinaigrette.
When overworked the meat can become rather tough. This is why it's important to premix the other ingredients before adding to the meat and then mixing by hand only until the ingredients are well incorporated.
Oh yes! If you're in more of a pasta mood feel free to skip the sandwich and just serve the meatballs and tomato sauce on a fresh bed of pasta. Delicious!
Technically you can but you will definitely see a difference in both flavor and texture.
Yes you can. I love making this sauce from scratch because cooking the onions and garlic in the meatball drippings add a ton of flavor. However, if you want to skip that step simply sear your meatballs and then add 2-3 jars of your favorite tomato or marinara sauce to the same pot. Then add you meatballs back and simmer for the same amount of time.
You can! Meatballs are a great recipe to make in advance because they continue to absorb the flavor of the sauce as they sit.
Pro Tip: Add a Parmesan rind to your sauce while it cooks.
While this step is totally optional, if you do happen to have a Parmesan rind on hand be sure to throw it in the sauce while it simmers and cooks the meatballs.
It adds phenomenal depth of flavor and you can simply fish it out and throw it away before serving.
Other recipes for you to enjoy.
Made these Italian Meatball Subs? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Italian Meatball Subs
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with lid
- Slotted spoon or tongs
- Baking Sheet
- Cutting board and knife
For the meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef, 80/20 or 85/15 fat ratio
- 1 lb ground Italian pork sausage
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 4 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
- 1.5 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- salt & pepper to taste
- Parmesan rind optional
- ¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
To assemble the sandwiches
- 8 Hoagie rolls, buns or a large loaf of french bread
- olive oil
- garlic powder optional
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- parmesan cheese, shredded or grated optional
- fresh basil, sliced optional
Prepare the meatballs
- Combine egg, minced onion, crushed garlic, grated parmesan, Panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a small mixing bowl until well combined.
- In a large mixing bowl add ground beef, ground sausage and the cheese and egg mixture. Use your hands to mix the seasoning into the meat until well incorporated. Be careful not to over mix.
- Form meatballs using about 2 tbsp of the mixture for each ball, about 19-22 meatballs.
- Add a couple tbsp of olive oil to a large Dutch oven and heat over medium high until hot and shimmering. Once hot add about half of the meatballs and cook undisturbed for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Flip to the other side and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until the meatballs are browned but not cooked through. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to take the meatballs out of the pot and place on a plate. Repeat the process until all the meatballs have been browned and then set the plate aside. Do not wash the pot.
Prepare the sauce
- In the same pot where the meatballs will seared add the diced onion and cook over medium to medium high heat for about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits.
- Add crushed garlic and continue to cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Then add 1 ½ tbsp of ItalianSeasoning and the tomato paste. Cook over medium high heat for about one minute, stirring constantly.
- Pour in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and 1 cup of water. Season with a little salt and pepper and add in one parmesan rind (optional).
- Nestle the browned meatballs into the sauce, being careful not to break them up. Bring the sauce to a low boil over medium high heat. Then turn the heat down to low to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the meatballs are fully cooked.
- Taste the sauce and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Then remove the pot from the heat and mix in the fresh basil.
Assemble the sandwiches
- While the meatballs are cooking preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice the buns lengthwise, but not all the way the through. Brush the insides of the buns with olive oil and sprinkle with a little garlic powder. Toast the buns open side up at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.
- To assemble, place a few slices of the mozzarella on the bottom of the bun. Then spoon on some of the sauce and place 3-4 meatballs on top. Top the meatballs with a few more slices of the mozzarella. Then melt the cheese by placing the assembled sandwiches back on the baking sheet and cook in the 400 degree oven for a few minutes until melted.
- Top with a sprinkle of parmesan and fresh basil and serve. Enjoy!