Meatball Sub (Subway copycat!)


5 from 81 votes
Jump to RecipeRate

These meatball subs taste EXACTLY like what you’d get at Subway, but made at home! Homemade meatballs covered in marinara sauce and cheese, these will be your new favorite sandwich.

meatball subs

Nothing beats a good meatball sandwich.

Coming from a half Italian household, meatball subs were something we enjoyed very regularly. Besides pizza, they were the most requested meal.

When I first moved out of home, I was fortunate enough to have a Subway restaurant two blocks down. I can honestly say that for two years straight, I enjoyed a foot-long meatball sub at least three times a week.

However, to be healthier and to save money, I’ve started making copycat Subway meatball sandwiches.

Why you’ll love these meatball subs

  • Healthier than Subway. The meatballs in Subway’s subs are loaded with fillers and artificial ingredients and don’t even get me started on their bread. 
  • It’s easy to customize. Easily adjust the recipe to be diet friendly, or try one of the other meat options for the meatballs (including a vegetarian one!).
  • Easy to make ahead. Just like any good meatballs out there, make a double batch and freeze the leftovers to enjoy later. 

What I love baout this meatball sub recipe is how much more delicious they were than what Subway have on hand- juicy and tender meatballs, a rich marinara sauce, melted cheese, all in a hoagie bun. Finish them off with a homemade Subway cookie and you’ll never leave the house again!

Ingredients needed

For the meatballs.

  • Ground meat- A combination of ground beef and ground pork to achieve the perfect meatball.  
  • Egg- Binds the meat together. 
  • Onion- A must for any good meatball recipe. 
  • Seasonings- Minced garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
  • Breadcrumbs- Prevents the meatballs from being watery.  

For the marinara sauce. 

  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasonings- A blend of ground herbs, including basil, oregano, and thyme.
  • Onion and garlic
  • Tomato sauce– Also known as passata or pasta sauce. Opt for a sauce with no added sugar in it. 
  • Salt and pepper– to taste. 
  • Water

To assemble 

  • Rolls- Either hoagie rolls, hot dog rolls, or even half baguettes. 
  • Sliced cheese- Sliced mozzarella, provolone, or American cheese. 
  • Basil- Optional, but what good 

How to make meatball subs

Prepare and cook the meatballs: In a bowl, add all the ingredients of the meatballs and mix well. Make small balls with hands and press until firm. Cook the meatballs until no longer pink.

Make the sauce: Add the oil, onion and garlic to a pan and cook until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients and water. Bring to a simmer, then add the meatballs back in and cook for several minutes.

Prepare the subs: slice the rolls in half then add meatballs, sauce, and slices of cheese. 

Bake the meatball subs: Place the filled rolls open faced on a baking dish and bake them until the meatballs are sizzling and the cheese has melted. 

Garnish and serve: Remove the rolls from the oven, sprinkle some basil on top and fold them over and serve. 

how to make meatball subs

Dietary swaps and flavor variations

  • Lower the carbs. Use keto bread crumbs in the meatballs and serve them in keto hot dog buns instead. 
  • Make them vegetarian (or vegan). Use vegan meatballs and choose a dairy free cheese. 
  • Ensure they are gluten free. Opt for a gluten free roll. 
  • Switch up the meat. Use just ground beef OR ground pork, or another kind like ground chicken or ground turkey. If you use one of the latter two, opt for ones with a higher fat content so the meatballs aren’t dry. 
  • Use different bread. Some other options include tortillas, buns, or rolls

Expert tips for success

  • Avoid using crusty rolls or hoagie rolls, as they are naturally tender on the outside and can become quite crusty once baked in the oven. 
  • You can keep the subs un-toasted. If you choose to enjoy it this way, ensure the meatballs are hot and you allow enough time for the cheese to melt on top before serving. 
  • Instead of making your own marinara sauce, you can use a spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce instead.

Storing and freezing instructions

  • To store: Both the meatballs and the marinara sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. 
  • To freeze: Meatballs, both cooked and raw, can be frozen in air-tight containers for up to 6 months. 
meatball sandwich

What to serve with meatball sandwiches

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Subway meatballs beef?

Subway meatballs are made with 100% beef.

How many calories are in a Subway meatball sub?

There are 480 calories in a 6-inch Subway meatball sandwich with basic salad and cheese.

What toppings should go on a meatball sub?

Classic toppings must include marinara sauce and cheese, and can also include fresh salad and dressings.

meatball sub recipe

Meatball Subs (Subway Copycat!)

5 from 81 votes
These meatball subs taste EXACTLY like what you'd get at Subway, but made at home! Homemade meatballs covered in marinara sauce and cheese, these will be your new favorite sandwich.
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes


For the meatballs

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork or more ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the marinara sauce

For the sandwiches

  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 4 hoagie rolls * See notes


  • Add all the meatball ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until combined. Using your hands, shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on a plate.
  • Add some oil to a non-stick pan and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the meatballs and cook for 5-6 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove the meatballs onto a plate.
  • Place the pan back over medium heat then add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until fragrant, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the meatballs back and cook through.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  • Slice your hoagie rolls in half and add a generous portion of the warm meatballs. Add the marinara sauce on top, followed by the mozzarella cheese. 
  • Place the filled hoagie rolls open faced on a baking sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt.
  • Remove from the oven and serve immediately.


TO STORE: Both the meatballs and the marinara sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. 
TO FREEZE: Meatballs, both cooked and raw, can be frozen in air-tight containers for up to 6 months.


Serving: 1meatball subCalories: 388kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 34gFat: 18gSodium: 1530mgPotassium: 881mgFiber: 4gVitamin A: 690IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 266mgIron: 5mgNET CARBS: 19g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

Never Miss a Recipe!
Subscribe to get my recipes directly to your inbox

You May Also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. This is my husband’s favorite – he eats Subway kind of a lot – love copycat recipes 🙂

  2. When I was in elementary school my Dad would take me to Subway after piano lessons and I would either get the meatball or tuna sub. Thus, meatball subs have a very special place in my heart. I haven’t had one in ages, but now I think this big girl can make one all for herself. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. So funny you post this today because yesterday I came close to having Subway for lunch since they were offering free cookies with any sub. I’ve never had their meatball sub before, but since yours looks way better I guess I don’t need to!

  4. Ooh my husband LOVES the meatball sub at Subway! I may have to try something like this. Love that it’s a copy cat and looks easy and delicious!

  5. I love that you remade the meatball sub! I’m sure your version is better, fresher, and healthier. And with a vegan option!?! Take that Subway!

  6. I love Subway, though I’ve never had their meatball sub. Yours looks perfect. And price rascism is lame and should be stopped. Let’s make a protest! 🙂

  7. I used to get those sandwiches all the time when I was little!! SO FREAKING GOOD! I haven’t thought about them in forever though and now I totally want to make a homemade one

  8. I’ve only had the veggie sub at Subway…I didn’t even know they had meatballs!! haha Besides, your paleo meatballs sound so much better than something that Subway could make.