These Italian meatball subs are SO good. Juicy meatballs, flavorful tomato sauce, and melted cheese all on a toasty bun. Heaven! The homemade meatball mixture is made up of ground beef, sausage, and seasoned bread crumbs. Add your favorite jarred marinara sauce (for ease!) and fresh mozzarella (the best cheese for meatball subs, in my opinion), pop them in the oven, and dinner is served!

Wondering what to serve with meatball subs? I’ve got you covered. Creamy Cucumber Salad, Broccoli Caesar Salad, and Fruit Salad Cocktail are all great meatball subs sides.

Italian Meatball Subs topped with melty mozzarella cheese and a garnish of fresh oregano on a baking sheet.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy meatball sub recipe. These homemade meatball subs, featuring an Italian sausage meatball recipe, are super simple to put together. Make your meatballs, assemble subs, toast, and serve.
  • Best Italian meatball recipe. I’ll be honest, I’m a big fan of frozen meatballs. They make dinner really easy! But these homemade meatballs featuring Italian sausage are incredible. They’ll be your new favorite!

Ingredient Notes

  • Italian sausage: Italian sausage is full of seasoning that helps make super flavorful Italian meatballs. I used mild sausage, but you could use hot Italian sausage if you like things spicy, or add red pepper flakes to your seasoning.
  • Ground beef: Mixing the Italian sausage with ground beef keeps these flavorful meatballs from being overwhelmingly salty and seasoned. You can substitute ground turkey for turkey meatball subs if you like.
  • Bread crumbs: Although it seems counterintuitive, breadcrumbs are key for tender meatballs. They keep meatballs from getting dry by absorbing the moisture from the meat as it cooks, so it stays inside the meatball. Who knew? I used seasoned bread crumbs in this recipe, but you can use regular bread crumbs, no problem. 
  • Marinara sauce: The best sauce for meatballs subs is marinara. It’s a classic combo! For easy meatball subs, use your favorite brand of jarred marinara sauce. I like Rao’s. If you’re an overachiever, I bet my Pizza Sauce would be super yummy as well.
  • Fresh mozzarella: I LOVE fresh mozzarella, so I add it to anything I can. Fresh sliced mozzarella is the perfect topping for meatball subs.
  • Sub or hoagie rolls: Can’t have a sub sandwich without the sub! Sub rolls or hoagie buns are the best bread for meatball sandwiches. If you can’t find either, hot dog buns could work too.
Italian Meatball Subs ingredients on a white background: ground beef, Italian sausage, marinara, bread crumbs, seasonings, egg, and mozzarella.

How to Make Meatball Subs

  1. Make the meatballs. In a medium bowl, add 1 lb ground beef, 8 oz. Italian sausage, ½ a cup of seasoned bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and a ½ teaspoon each of black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix until combined, then portion the meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs – you should make around 32.
  2. Prep your skillet. Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast iron) over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet and heat until the oil shimmers. 
  3. Sear the meatballs. Add meatballs to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each “side” of the meatball (I cook on 3-4 sides). You may have to work in batches. 
  4. Warm the marinara sauce. While you cook your meatballs, warm 32 oz of marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
Four photos showing the making of Italian meatballs in a glass bowl, then seasonings added, then rolled into meatballs, and then the meatballs in a skillet being browned.
  1. Combine meatballs and marinara. Once you’ve browned all your meatballs, transfer them to the marinara sauce and simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  2. Preheat oven and prep rolls. Set your oven to broil. If necessary, cut your buns or rolls in half. Place the buns on a baking sheet and broil in the preheated oven for 3-4 minutes. If you’re nervous about the broil setting, set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and toast the bread for 8 minutes. Toasting before we add the saucy meatballs helps the bread not get soggy. 
  3. Assemble subs. Remove rolls from the oven and top with meatballs, extra sauce, and fresh sliced mozzarella. Return them to the oven to broil for 2-3 minutes (or toast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-6 minutes), or until the cheese is melted.
  4. Serve. Sink your teeth into the best meatball subs you’ve ever tasted.
Four photos showing the process of how to make Italian Meatball Subs on toasted hoagie buns then topped with fresh mozzarella cheese.

Recipe Tips

You can totally use frozen meatballs for this recipe if you want to save time. But if you have the time, I highly recommend making your own meatballs.

For a little extra flavor, you might try brushing your rolls with olive oil or garlic butter before toasting. Yum!

I think fresh mozzarella cheese is the best cheese for meatball subs, and marina is the best sauce for meatball subs. But you can customize this recipe any way you like by using another kind of sauce – perhaps vodka sauce? Provolone cheese and parmesan cheese would both be tasty too.

Don’t skip toasting the buns or the meatball subs after assembling! Toasting the buns separately helps them stand up to all that sauce, and you gotta melt that cheese on top. 

If you’re feeling fancy, top these meatball subs with some fresh herbs. Fresh basil or fresh parsley would both be great.

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Make Ahead: You can make and cook the meatballs in the sauce a day or two ahead. Warm the meatballs and sauce up on the stove, toast your buns, assemble, and eat. I do not recommend making assembled meatball subs ahead of time as they will get soggy.

Storing: Leftover meatball subs will get a little soggy. I would recommend storing the meatballs and sauce separately – they’ll keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. If you do end up having leftover assembled subs, that’s okay! Wrap the subs in aluminum foil and they’ll keep for 2-3 days. To reheat, pop them in the oven wrapped in the foil at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then unwrap and toast for another 5 minutes.

Freezing: You can freeze the meatballs separately or mixed with the marinara sauce. Meatballs and sauce will keep for two months. To freeze assembled subs, wrap tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil – just don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap before you reheat them. Assembled meatball subs can be stored for 1-2 months in the freezer.

Melted mozzarella cheese overtop of Italian Meatball Subs on a baking sheet.

Recipe FAQs

What goes with meatball subs?

Buttered Vegetables or Oven Roasted Broccoli would be great sides for meatball subs to round out the meal.

Are meatball subs healthy?

Meatballs are high in protein and marinara sauce is full of antioxidants. However, meatball subs are generally pretty high in calories. You can make these healthier by using wheat rolls and swapping ground beef for turkey in the meatballs.

Can meatball subs be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze meatball subs for 1-2 months. However, I don’t recommend it. Instead, I would freeze the meatballs and sauce by themselves. You could also freeze your buns separately. Thaw everything in the fridge overnight before you assemble your subs.

Where did meatball subs originate?

Meatball subs are an Italian-American creation believed to have been invented in the early 1900s.

Marinara covered Italian meatballs on a bun.

More Meatball Recipes

More Sandwich Recipes

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The best Italian Meatball Subs topped with melted cheese, on a baking sheet.
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Italian Meatball Subs

These juicy Italian Meatball Subs are the perfect weeknight meal!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 32 meatballs


  • 1 pound ground beef - (80/20 will make juicer meatballs but you can use whatever fat % you have on hand)
  • 8 oz Italian sausage - I used mild, can use hot for spicier meatballs
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella - sliced
  • 8 hoagie buns - or sub rolls


  • In a medium bowl add the ground beef, Italian sausage, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, egg, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Mix to combine. 
  • Portion the meat into 1 inch sized meatballs. (Should make about 32 meatballs).
  • Heat a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once shimmering add the meatballs to the skillet (you may have to work in batches). Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes (I cook on 3-4 sides). 
  • Meanwhile, place the marinara sauce in a saucepan set over medium low heat. Once the meatballs are done browning, transfer them to the marinara. Simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked through. 
  • Preheat oven to broil setting.
  • When ready to serve, cut the buns in half, making sure not to cut all the way through. Place the bread on a baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes (watch carefully so the bread doesn’t burn). If the broil setting scares you, you can preheat the oven to 400°F and toast the bread for 8 minutes. 
  • Remove from the oven and place some meatballs and sauce into each bun. Top with the fresh mozzarella. 
  • Return to the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. 
  • Serve immediately. 


This recipe makes about 32 meatballs. I used 3 meatballs per sub, but you can add more meatballs depending on the size of the buns you use. 
Leftover assembled meatball subs tend to get soggy, so I would recommend only making as many as you’ll eat. Then, store the meatballs and sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, assembling fresh subs as needed. 
You can substitute ground turkey for turkey meatball subs.


Calories: 150kcal (8%)Carbohydrates: 11g (4%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 8g (12%)Saturated Fat: 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 27mg (9%)Sodium: 413mg (17%)Potassium: 155mg (4%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 185IU (4%)Vitamin C: 2mg (2%)Calcium: 52mg (5%)Iron: 4mg (22%)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review on the blog post letting me know how you liked this recipe! Take a picture and tag @saltandbaker on Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook so I can see what you’re making!