Do you know how they say that a way into a person’s heart is through their stomach? I whole-heartedly believe this because I’m pretty convinced that Mike married me because of this meatball sub.
I mean, who doesn’t love tender, juicy homemade meatballs that have been braised in a tangy-sweet tomato gravy tucked into a butter toasted bun with lots of melty cheese?! Heck, I’m in love with meatball subs and they are an inanimate object!
It’s a fair trade though because maybe I married Mike because of baguettes. I love love love baguettes. I think it’s partially because they’re French and partially because they taste so good. I just love the crackle-y crisp deep gold crust and tender insides. Once, I even asked Mike to bring a baguette back for me when he went on a trip to France.
The funny thing is, we weren’t even going out at the time so I was just asking, as a friend. And he delivered! Maybe that’s when I feel in love a little bit. We meet up after his trip and I had completely forgotten about the baguette, but he had one for me, still in its paper bag, kind of crushed and more than a little bit stale. But, it was there and for the first time ever, I had an authentic baguette!
Anyway, this is a post about meatball subs, not baguettes, but maybe baguettes too because I made this sub on a baguette. I have major heart eyes for meatball subs. Because I’ve made so many meatball subs in my life they are dialed in.
What makes a good meatball sub?
Good meatball subs have big, soft, tender, juicy meatballs. I feel like meatball subs shouldn’t have meatballs that have been crisped up or browned in any way. The meatballs should just about fall apart the instant they hit your lips. The sauce should permeate and cling to the surface of the balls and they should be good enough to eat on their own but even better when put into a saucy, cheesy sandwich.
The absolute best way to make meatball subs
Here’s how I like to build my sandwiches:
- Choose great bread. You can go with whatever bread you love. We used baguettes here because this is a love story about meatball subs and baguettes. Cut the bread in half lengthwise.
- Butter the bread. This is absolutely necessary because the buttery bread with the tomato sauce is heaven. Bonus points if you use garlic butter! You don’t need to toast the bread on it’s own because it’s going to get a little toasty in the oven while the cheese melts.
- Sauce your bread. After the butter, you need to sauce your bread. Some people don’t put sauce on the bottom of their subs, but I feel like you need that sauciness.
- Cheese and meatball and cheese. Top the sauce off with shaved parmesan because cheese then with some extra saucy meatballs. On top of that you need a cozy blanket of low moisture mozzarella cheese and a shower of more parmesan.
- Melt. The other side of your sandwich should get some extra sauce too. Everything is popped into the oven until the cheese gets gooey and delicious. Close it up and you’re in meatball sub heaven!
The magic comes in when you make the meatballs from scratch:
- Soak some bread in milk. Milk-soaked bread make for the tenderest most juicy meatballs out there.
- Mix everything up, but gently. Gently does it. Mix up the meat, bread, eggs, garlic, parmesan, flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper.
- Shape. Make you balls according to the size bread you’re planning on using. Don’t pack them too much.
- Braise. Add the meatballs directly to the tomato sauce and gently braise until they’re cooked through. Now they’re ready for their bread bed!
What toppings go on a meatball sub?
You can put anything you like on a meatball sub! I keep it classic with melty mozzarella cheese and sauce but you can go for onions, peppers, mushrooms, provolone, pepperoncini, jalapeños, parsley, sky’s the limit!
What kind of bread for a meatball sub?
You can use any long bread you like. We went with a baguette for these photos because of my love for baguettes but sometimes I like a soft and squishy roll like a submarine sandwich roll or hoagie roll. We’ve even made these with hot dog buns. Sliders and pull apart buns work too!
Super tender and tasty meatballs braised in a tomato-y sauce topped off with melty cheese in a toasty baguette.
- 3 cups bread cut into small cubes
- 1 cup milk
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 eggs
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3/4 cups Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
- 2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 4-5 cups basic tomato sauce or your favorite tomato sauce
For the subs
- 1 french demi baguette or bread of choice
- 4 meatballs and sauce
- 2-4 slices low moisture fresh mozzarella cheese
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated, to serve
Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large skillet or saucepan with a lid, heat up your tomato sauce over medium low heat.
Place the bread cubes in a bowl and cover with milk, tossing so that all the cubes are saturated. After 1-2 minutes the bread should be soggy and wet. Using your hands, squeeze out as much milk as possible. Use your fingertips to break up the bread into very small breadcrumbs.
In a large bowl, mix together the bread, ground beef, eggs, garlic, parmesan, flat leaf parsley, salt, and freshly ground pepper. You want to mix everything so that it’s homogenous, but loose – don’t work the meatball mixture too much.
By this time your sauce should be simmering with several bubbles breaking the surface. Form large meatballs (I made 7 big ones) and drop them directly into the sauce. Simmer in the sauce, partially covered, over medium heat, flipping occasionally. Simmer gently until cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.
Cut the baguette in half so you’ll have two sandwiches, then cut lengthwise. Top both sides of the baguette with a generous amount of sauce and a bit of grated parmesan. Place the meatballs on the bottom baguette and top with slices of mozzarella and some more parmesan.
Bake until the cheese is gooey and melted. Place the top half of the sandwich on top of the meatballs and enjoy!
Meatballs inspired by Mario Batali.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 631 Calories from Fat 163
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 7.3g46%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.