This Italian-American Meatball Marinara Sub Recipe serves juicy meatballs in a sub-sandwich form! It includes freshly cooked meatballs in a sauce loaded into toasted bread buns and topped with shredded cheese and extra sauce. Once assembled, these Meatball Subs are lightly broiled before being served.
Meatball Subs are tasty and easy to whip up as lunch or a relaxed dinner with the family using simple pantry-staple ingredients. You can use frozen store-bought meatballs or make your own Oven Baked Meatballs or Air Fryer Meatballs! Either save yourself some time using a jarred sauce or make your sauce from scratch with this Best Marinara Sauce Recipe!
These Meatball Subs are a huge hit with kids and a resourceful way to turn leftover meatballs into an entirely new dish during a busy week. If you love delicious ways to use meatballs, consider adding them to recipes like Easy Dump And Bake Meatball Pasta Casserole, Meatball Calzones, Or Easy Baked Cheesy Meatball Sub Sandwich.
Why You’ll Love Meatball Marinara Sub Recipe
- Meatball Subs is a great way to use leftover meatballs without getting recipe fatigue!
- Meatball Subs are loved by adults and kids alike, providing an easy meal option for lunch or dinner.
- You can vary this recipe by using different sauces and cheese, beef, pork, turkey, or chicken meatballs.
What Ingredients do I Need for Meatball Marinara Sub Recipe?
- Meatballs – Use pre-cooked or frozen large meatballs. While I love ground beef for these meatball subs, you can also opt for chicken, turkey, lean ground beef meatballs, or ground pork meatballs.
- Bread buns – Hoagie or French Roll sandwich buns are the best for making subs.
- Pasta sauce – A 24 oz. jar of marinara sauce is ideal for this dish, but you can also use another favorite pasta sauce. You can even make your pasta sauce from scratch!
- Butter – Salted and melted.
- Garlic salt – This adds an extra depth of flavor. You could also use garlic powder or a teaspoon of salt and pepper.
- Mozzarella – Freshly grated. You can also use cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, provolone cheese, or another cheese that melts well.
- Fresh Italian parsley – For garnish.
PRO TIP: Toasting the bread buns first in the oven provides flavor and buttery crunch while helping the bread rolls withstand the sauce and meaty filling.
How to Make Meatball Marinara Sub Recipe
PREP: Place meatballs in a skillet with a full jar of marinara sauce and simmer over low heat until the meatballs and sauce are heated through. Combine the melted butter and garlic salt. Slice the bread buns and place them on a cookie sheet, brushing the melted butter mixture inside each bread bun. Toast the bread buns in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the bread turns golden brown and crispy.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Fill each bread bun with three meatballs and extra sauce. Top the assembled meatball subs with shredded cheese and add under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. Remove the meatball subs from the oven as soon as the cheese is melted. Serve these meatball subs hot with freshly chopped parsley and a side of extra sauce.
- You can easily increase the serving size of my meatball sub recipe. Double the amount of sauce and garlic butter if you make more than 6 meatball subs.
- If you’re concerned about over-toasting your bread buns, simply place strips of aluminum foil over the edges of each bun while they broil for a second round.
- I used the larger-sized pre-cooked meatballs since they seem to work best with standard bread buns. Nothing stops you from opting for smaller meatballs, though – you may need to add more meatballs per bun.
- I’ve used pasta sauce for my meatball subs but feel free to use store-bought or homemade marinara sauce instead.
- Cheddar cheese or any other cheese that melts well can be used in place of Mozzarella. Many also enjoy Provolone.
These days, meatballs are not just reserved for a bowl of spaghetti. The meatball sub evolved in America, allegedly making its debut at the beginning of the 20th century. Depending on where you’ve grown up, these succulent balls of meat served on crusty bread with mild cheeses and flavorful sauce are also referred to as hoagies, meatball sandwiches, grinders, poor boys, or torpedo sandwiches.
- Use store-bought pre-cooked or frozen meatballs or make your own from scratch.
- You can use various meatballs for these meatball subs – beef, pork, chicken, or turkey!
- Use store-bought pasta sauce for convenience, or make your own from scratch. I love homemade marinara sauce!
- Freshly grated cheddar cheese, Gruyere, or Swiss cheese can top these meatballs subs
These meatball subs are best eaten immediately after assembling otherwise, the sauce will start to seep into the bread, making it soggy if you attempt to store them. For that reason, I don’t recommend refrigerating them once they’ve been fully assembled.
While I used pre-cooked meatballs, if you prefer making your own from scratch, then this is a step you could take a day or so before assembling the meatball subs and store your cooked meatballs in the refrigerator for the following day or two.
Don’t freeze fully assembled meatball subs for the reasons given above. If you’re making your own meatballs then you can cook and freeze your meatballs with sauce for 3-4 months.
You can either store your homemade meatballs and sauce in an airtight container or in a Ziploc bag. When you’re ready to use your frozen meatballs for this recipe, allow them to defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then heat them up with the sauce over medium heat on the stovetop.
These meatball subs are delicious as is, but you can also serve them with a light side salad, fries or potato wedges, or creamy coleslaw.
Meatball Marinara Sub Recipe
- 12 pre-cooked or frozen large meatballs ½ Meatballs Recipe
- 4 Hoagie or French Roll sandwich buns
- 24 oz. jar of marinara or your favorite pasta sauce or homemade sauce
- ¼ cup salted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella
- Fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven on the broil setting.
- Place meatballs in a large saucepan and add a full jar (or 3 cups) of marinara sauce. Bring to a simmer over low heat until meatballs and sauce are heated through. (This will take a bit longer if using frozen meatballs, but they don’t need to be defrosted first.)
- Meanwhile, combine melted butter and garlic salt in a small bowl.
- Slice buns along the side and gently open, being careful that the bun stays intact. Place buns on a cookie sheet. Brush over the open face of the buns with the butter mixture. Coat well, though you may not use all of the butter.
- Place cookie sheet in the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes or just until bread begins to brown. (Please note that the edges of the buns will brown further during the next steps.
- Remove buns from oven. Fill each bun with three warmed meatballs, spooning a bit of the sauce over the top.
- Top each sub with ½ cup cheese. You can use all mozzarella or a combination of mozzarella and provolone (or another cheese that you like).
- Place the cookie sheet back under the broiler for 3-5 additional minutes, checking regularly so that you can remove the subs from the oven as soon as the cheese is melted.
- Serve meatball subs hot, sprinkled with a bit of freshly chopped parsley, and with extra sauce on the side.