This is The Perfect Meatball Sandwich recipe, made on toasted, buttery garlic bread, with an easy homemade marinara sauce and my favorite beef and sausage meatballs.
A while back, I shared these fantastic freezer meatballs. (If you haven’t made a batch yet, please do. They are one of my favorite things on the site, and if you have a batch in your freezer you can make today’s recipe in about half an hour.)
Anyway, in that post, I promised meatball sandwiches would be coming soon and we have reached that day. Hooray for Meatball Sandwich day!
There are a few things that go into making the perfect meatball sandwich.
- Good meatballs: I recommend using my absolute favorite meatball recipe for these sandwiches, but if you want to use your own meatball recipe or you’re in a hurry and want to use frozen meatballs, go for it.
- Excellent marinara sauce: The homemade marinara sauce on these sandwiches is just about the perfect marinara sauce. It’s pretty quick-cooking (for a red sauce), is made with just 5 ingredients, and is so tangy and bright and delicious. Good luck not just eating it with a spoon.
- Toasty bread: Soggy meatball sandwiches are the worst. And the best way to avoid soggy sandwiches is to build your sub on lightly toasted bread. And for this recipe, we’re not just going to toast the bread but turn it into buttery, perfect toasted garlic bread.
How to Make Meatball Sandwiches
- Make/warm your meatballs: Make or heat up your premade meatballs so they’re hot and ready to go.
- Make the marinara sauce: While the meatballs heat, throw together your marinara sauce. This process is mostly hands-off. You just brown some garlic, stir in the rest of your sauce ingredients, and let it simmer away.
- Make garlic bread: Slather your rolls with butter and then sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake until they are just lightly toasted.
- Assemble: Top the garlic bread with meatballs, sauce, and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted.
What kind of bread should I use?
French rolls are ideal for meatball marinara sandwiches. They toast up nicely but are soft so they’re easy to bite into even when stuffed full.
Hot dog buns also work well and are a great size for smaller eaters. Depending on the size of your meatballs, you may want to cut them in halves or quarters so they fit better in the smaller buns.
What do you put on a meatball sub?
Aside from meatballs, marinara sauce, and cheese, cooked bell peppers and onions are a delicious addition to meatball subs. To add them to your sub, thinly slice the onions and peppers and cook them in a little olive oil with salt and pepper over medium heat until they are tender-crisp. Load them onto your sandwich and enjoy!
What goes with meatball sandwiches?
Meatball sandwiches are extremely rich and filling, so simple sides like a green salad or garlic green beans complement them nicely. If you want that true deli experience, serve them with a crunchy coleslaw and some kettle chips.
Can I make these in advance?
Yes! Don’t make the garlic bread and assemble the sandwiches until just before you’re ready to serve them, but the sauce and meatballs can be made up to 2 days in advance.
When you’re ready to eat, all you have to do is heat the sauce and meatballs, toast the garlic bread, and assemble your sandwiches.
More Sandwich Recipes
- Pesto Chicken Sandwich on Sourdough
- Panini Without a Panini Press
- Tri-tip Sandwich
- Carne Asada Sandwich
- Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- This sauce recipe calls for a skillet and a splatter screen. The wide skillet is used to increase the cooking surface area so the sauce cooks faster, but you absolutely must use a splatter screen or you will have a mess on your hands. If you don’t own a splatter screen, you can buy one–they are pretty cheap and super handy. Or you can just use a large pot without a screen and turn the sauce down a little so it’s not popping as high. Your sauce will take a bit longer, but there will be less mess.
- If you are cooking for only one or two people, the marinara sauce freezes very well. Just freeze leftover sauce in a mason jar or freeze flat in a freezer bag and it can be frozen for up to three months.
The Perfect Meatball Sandwich
- Large skillet
Quick Marinara Sauce
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 cloves garlic peeled and slivered or minced
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 large fresh basil sprig or ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- 4 French rolls
- Garlic powder
- 12 to 16 large meatballs fully cooked and warmed
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil optional for topping
Quick Marinara Sauce
- With an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, process tomatoes until mostly pureed--the texture of chunky salsa. You can also turn the tomatoes out into a bowl and crush them with your hands (don't discard the juices).
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook just until it starts to turn lightly golden--watch carefully so it doesn't burn! Add the tomatoes and their juices to the skillet along with water, salt, sugar, oregano, red pepper flakes, and sprig of basil. Cover with splatter screen and bring to a good simmer, turning up the heat if necessary. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes until sauce is thickened. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Remove basil sprig.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Butter both sides of your French rolls and sprinkle garlic powder over the top. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly toasted.
- Add a couple tablespoons of sauce to both sides of each French roll and top with 3 to 4 meatballs and 1/4 cup of mozzarella. Bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese is melted.
- Add fresh basil if desired. Serve and enjoy!
Sauce Adapted From The New York Times
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