Three kinds of cheese and toasted garlic buttered buns set these quick and easy Meatball Subs apart from the rest. Tender meatballs are simmered in a zesty marinara sauce, nestled into toasted rolls and topped with gooey melted cheese. Make this comfort food classic in just about 30 minutes!
Need a quick and easy dinner idea? These cheesy, garlic butter-toasted Meatball Subs are pure comfort food that never fails to please. Follow our tips for hearty meatball sandwiches that taste just as delicious as any restaurant version but can be enjoyed at home in minutes.
Why you'll love this recipe
➤ Easier to eat: Many meatball subs use sliced hot dog buns. Often these buns will fall apart under the weight of the cheesy sandwich. We use uncut hoagie rolls instead and hollow out a space for the meatballs right in the buns. Now you can eat your sandwich without fear of the meatballs falling out of the bun or the bun falling apart.
➤ No soggy sandwiches: We slather the rolls with a garlic butter, toast them in the oven and then add a layer of provolone cheese to ensure they hold up to the saucy meatball filling.
➤ Make them in minutes: When you use frozen cooked meatballs and your favorite jarred marinara sauce, you can have meal on the table in just about 30 minutes - perfect weeknight dinner recipe!
➤ Simple recipe to multiply for a crowd: Feeding a large group? This recipe can quickly be scaled for any number of people.
You only need a handful of ingredients for these crowd-pleasing sandwiches.
A few ingredient notes:
- Meatballs: These subs come together in just minutes when you use frozen cooked meatballs, but you can also make your own meatballs from a favorite recipe if you prefer.
- Marinara sauce: We're big fans of Rao's Marinara Sauce but any well-seasoned marinara or pizza sauce will work.
- Buns: Use uncut hoagie rolls or brat buns from the grocery store bakery as you need to hollow out the rolls to make space for the meatballs. Presliced rolls are softer because they are enhanced with preservatives to extend their shelf life. They will fall apart when you try to hollow them out.
Start by simmering your meatballs in the marinara sauce until warmed through. While the meatballs are simmering, stir together the butter, garlic and parsley. Salt to taste. Use a serrated knife to cut long rectangle shapes out of the tops of the hoagie buns, being careful not to cut all the way through to the bottom of the buns. Remove the sections of bread you cut out (reserve for another use, if desired, or discard) and brush the cavities with the garlic butter. Toast in a 350°F oven for five minutes.
Line each toasted bun with a slice of provolone cheese. Add four meatballs and some sauce to each bun and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Dip sandwiches in any extra sauce from the meatballs.
The ingredient list for most meatball subs is pretty short: buns, meatballs, sauce and cheese. We amp up the flavor even more by layering three kinds of cheese on top of toasted garlic butter rolls.
Skip the presliced hot dog or brat buns in favor of uncut hoagie buns from the grocery store bakery. They are usually a bit firmer and will hold their shape better when toasted and filled with saucy meatballs.
We love a zesty marinara sauce but feel free to use your favorite pizza or spaghetti sauce as long as it is robustly flavored.
It may feel like an extra step, but taking a few minutes to toast your rolls before filling them makes a big difference in the sturdiness of your sandwich. Lining the buns with a slice of cheese also helps insulate the rolls from absorbing too much of sauce.
Not well. Once the sandwiches are assembled, they start to soak up the marinara sauce. Toasting the rolls extends the time it takes to absorb the sauce but it doesn't stop it from happening entirely. Our best advice is to assemble only the number of sandwiches you will eat in one sitting.
Expert tips for making the BEST Meatball Subs
✔︎ Use uncut hoagie rolls from the grocery store bakery. They are usually a bit firmer and will hold their shape better when cooked.
✔︎ You can either discard the hollowed out portions of the rolls or reserve them to make homemade breadcrumbs or croutons.
✔︎ Serve any leftover marinara sauce from the meatballs on the side for dipping.
✔︎ Feel free to swap in your favorite homemade meatball recipe for the frozen meatballs in these sandwiches.
✔︎ We use three different types of cheese in these subs (provolone, mozzarella and Parmesan), but feel free to use only one or two if that's what you have on hand.
✔︎ Short on time? Use the slow cooker to simmer the meatballs and sauce all day. All that's left to do when you get home is toast the buns and heat the sandwiches.
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- 16 frozen cooked meatballs
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- ¾ teaspoon garlic puree (or finely minced garlic)
- Kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, optional
- 4 hoagie buns, uncut
- 4 slices provolone cheese
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place meatballs and marinara sauce in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.16 frozen cooked meatballs, 2 cups marinara sauce
- Meanwhile, stir together butter, garlic, parsley and pinch of salt. Set aside.3 tablespoons butter,, ¾ teaspoon garlic puree, Kosher salt, ½ tablespoon chopped fresh parsley,
- Hollow out a long rectangular shape in the hoagie buns using a serrated knife, being careful not to cut all the way through the buns. Remove the excess bread and discard or save for homemade breadcrumbs or croutons.4 hoagie buns,
- Brush interior of rolls with garlic butter. Place rolls in casserole dish or on sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove rolls from oven and line each bread cavity with a piece of provolone cheese. Add four meatballs and desired amount of sauce on top of cheese in toasted bread cavity. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons mozzarella cheese over each sandwich. Bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.4 slices provolone cheese, ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Remove from oven and sprinkle each sub with ½ tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with any remaining sauce.2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Use uncut hoagie rolls from the grocery store bakery. They are usually a bit firmer and will hold their shape better when cooked.
- You can either discard the parts of the rolls you hollow out of the buns or reserve them to make homemade breadcrumbs or croutons.
- Serve any leftover marinara sauce from the meatballs on the side for dipping.
- Feel free to swap in your favorite homemade meatball recipe for the frozen meatballs in these sandwiches.
- We use three different types of cheese in these subs (provolone, mozzarella and Parmesan), but feel free to use only one or two if that's what you have on hand.
- Short on time? Use the slow cooker to simmer the meatballs and sauce all day. All that's left to do when you get home is toast the buns and heat the sandwiches.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.