Meatball Sub (Subway copycat!)


5 from 107 votes
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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 107 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 Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

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.

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  1. I’ll admit, I used to LOVE the subway meatball marinara. Now, I try to avoid it, knowing all the crap that’s in it! This looks like the perfect substitute. Also, I don’t think I could handle eating 6 HB eggs at once. Props to ya!

  2. I’ve never been to Subway — is that crazy? My sandwich joint of choice was always Quiznos, and I ate there so often that I think I OD’d on it because even the smell makes me sick now 😆

  3. Woah…this looks amazeballs, Arman! Or maybe I shoudl say amaze-meat-balls! Seriously, I am still finishing my cup of coffee this morning, and I want to chow down on this meatball sub. Well done!!

  4. Thanks for hosting this week, I love these roundups so thanks for doing it. I have never had a meatball sub, but I would definitely be open to trying that vegan version. Yum!

  5. These meatballs look fab! Ok the ‘sub’ part ain’t my thing but the meat and sauce, I’m all over that!
    Oh and 6 eggs for breakfast… You’re my hero!!!

  6. OMG when I was in boarding school, on the road, traveling for snowboard competitions, we would stop at Subway and …. I WOULD ORDER THE MEATBALL SUB and just eat the BALLS! I friggin’ LOVE BALLS!

  7. Ugh Subway prices are high in Canada too – I think last time I got a 6 inch turkey sub it was $6.49 for just the sub. And I was hungry like 2 minutes later haha. Back in high school Subway used to have the $5 footlong + drink deal though – those were the days!

  8. This used to be the Hubby’s favorite Subway sub. These days, I make him homemade meatballs with sauce and real dairy filled cheese. 🙂 Happy WIAW.

  9. The last time I had Subway was in Ibiza two years ago, and I had the meatball sub – of course! I rarely had it in Australia because I thought it was so overpriced! Bloody Australia.

  10. The subway meatball sandwich was my go-to in college, usually around 1am. There was a 24 hour subway right outside our dorm!

  11. I haven’t had Subway meatballs footlong in like forever (mostly because I don’t like Subway.) But your version looks sooo much better.
    Great job man!