Mom's Meatball Subs Recipe: The Italian Sandwich That Took 10 Years to Perfect by Heather Holter

Mom's Meatball Subs Recipe: The Italian Sandwich That Took 10 Years to Perfect

Every year I make my kids and husband the birthday dinner of their choice. It's been everything from pizza or hotdogs and macaroni and cheese, to salmon and asparagus or ribeyes with baked potatoes. But one dinner request has remained the same for a decade.

When my son was 8 years old he asked for meatball subs. I had two 6-year-olds and a 10 and 12-year-old, too, so I just got frozen meatballs hotdog buns a jar of sauce and shredded mozzarella. I threw the sauce and meatballs into the slow cooker and called it good. At dinner I just put them in the bun added cheese and fed the kids. They were pretty awful.

As time went on I tried other buns, and used the Betty Crocker recipe for meatballs and jar sauce. About four years ago my husband helped and accidentally added three times the salt so that year was pretty bad. The following year I used the same meatball recipe, my own homemade sauce, the perfect bun, provolone and real mozzarella. I thought I found the perfect meatball sub. Until last year.

I was given my mom's sauce and meatballs recipe a month before my son's birthday, and I felt it was fate. It was for the meatball subs. From my mom. So last birthday I got to make them with my mom's recipes and I feel so blessed like she's there with me. It's a joy even when this meal isn't really good to make when it's 90 degrees F out. It's pretty time-consuming, so you gotta be all in! I recommend fall or winter for this sandwich recipe. Be ready to devote a few hours to this well-worth-it labor of love.

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Cuisine: Italian / American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 1/2 hours
Servings: 6


  • 6 sub buns
  • 12 slices provolone cheese
  • 12 slices fresh mozzarella

Tomato Sauce


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup dry Italian breadcrumbs

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Recipe Notes

  • This recipe makes six sandwiches with sauce and meatballs leftover. I doubled the recipe to make 12 sandwiches.
  • If you can't find a 35-ounce can of diced tomatoes, use 1 28-ounce can and 1 14-ounce can.

Here's how to make it: 

  1. To make the sauce, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large soup pot for 5 minutes. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. While the sauce cooks, make the meatballs.
  2. To make the meatballs, mix all ingredients except breadcrumbs. After well mixed, mix in dry breadcrumbs.
  3. Form into golf ball-sized meatballs. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Once cooked through, rinse with warm water in a strainer (fat collects around the meatballs when you bake them). Set aside.
  4. After the sauce has cooked for 1 1/2 hours, reduce the heat to low. If the sauce is not as smooth as you'd like it, use an immersion blender to finish the sauce.
  5. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook until warm, about 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Toast sliced buns topped with provolone cheese for 5 minutes at 400 degrees F.
  7. Top with three to four meatballs with sauce. Top with fresh mozzarella slices.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Calories: 728

Total Fat: 34.8g

Saturated Fat: 15.9g

Cholesterol: 190mg

Sodium: 1852mg

Total Carbohydrate: 44.2g

Dietary Fiber: 7.4g

Total Sugars: 15.6g

Protein: 64.8g

Vitamin D: 4mcg

Calcium: 462mg

Iron: 20mg

Potassium: 1228mg

Recipe cooking times, nutritional information and servings are approximate and provided for your convenience. However, 30Seconds is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe, nor may you have the same results because of variations in ingredients, temperatures, altitude, errors, omissions or cooking/baking abilities. This recipe has been analyzed by VeryWellFit. However, any nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and it is up to the individual to ascertain accuracy. To ensure image quality, we may occasionally use stock photography.

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I can see why this is a most requested recipe. Super yummo.
Lenny Parnell
This recipe is only half of what it takes to make a good meatball sub
Donna John
How do you make your meatballs subs, Lenny Parnell ?

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