Look at this dang meatball sub!
This sandwich is made from slightly spicy and savory meatballs that are glazed and sauced with the same sriracha concoction that I use for my favorite meatloaf recipe that I shared back in 2021. This one is a fairly simple recipe that makes a ton of meatballs that will turn into quite a few sandwiches.
Let us make some meatball subs!
First, we need to get that bread.
Italian sandwich rolls
These Italian sandwich rolls are one of my favorite bread recipes that I have been making for a couple of years now. They have a nice slightly crunchy and brown exterior, but the interior is soft and perfect for two or three meatballs to be tucked inside.
There’s something special about a meatball that is super tender inside of a roll that is a bit chewy with some texture on the exterior. This roll gets its crunch from the egg white wash and somewhat high baking temperature. Unlike some other types of rolls, there are no tricks to add steam to the oven, it’s just a regular baking process.
I slice the bread 3/4ths of the way through, open it up carefully, like a book, and I rip out some of the bread to build a little pocket inside the roll that will hold meatballs.
Note: it’s sacrilege, but you can toss out the bread that you pull out of the roll OR you can also keep a small zip-top bag in your freezer and add the bread into it to be used at a later date for broken-up croutons or turn them into breadcrumbs. You can also just put olive oil, salt, and pepper on a small plate and dip the small pieces of scrap bread for an appetizer before meatball sub time.
Six rolls vs five
This roll recipe makes 5 rolls that are perfect for larger-sized meatballs. My wife, however, likes to make her meatballs a little smaller than I do, so I tried the bread roll recipe and made 6 instead. She made some of her favorite turkey meatballs and I made these sriracha glazed meatballs and we made a few nights’ worth of subs. The smaller-sized rolls worked pretty well, there was less room for my meatballs, but the bread size was great for her smaller-sized ones.
Then, because we had some meatballs left, I made another batch of 5 rolls just for comparison’s sake and the photos of the two sets are below. It’s not super easy to tell, but we’re dealing with about 20 extra grams of bread per roll in the batch with 5 rolls.
Beef and pork meatballs
These are some flavorful meatballs. The addition of pork makes these meatballs seem a little lighter in texture to me than if they were straight ground beef. The pork also brings more fat into the mixture which is very helpful for meatballs but as you can see from the cooked photos below there’s not so much fat in these to create a mess on the sheet pan.
These meatballs have sauteed onion and garlic with breadcrumbs and other seasonings and it uses egg for a binder. There’s a little bit of spice in the meatballs, but most of the heat comes from the glaze that gets added halfway through the cooking process.
Because of the binders like egg, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese, these meatballs hold together well during shaping and after cooking. I have made this version of meatballs in a pan on the stove and in a sheet pan in the oven. I find they work best in the oven because no one has a stovetop pan large enough for 20 meatballs and in my experience, they simply cook more even in the oven.
Cook these bad boys for 20 minutes, glaze them with the sriracha glaze, and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
I honestly think this version of my meatball recipe is even better than the one I shared last year. I guess that’s important, right? We keep moving forward. The addition of ground pork really adds a lot of change since I didn’t adjust that much else. I mean, look at the photo below. It’s a good meatball.
Sriracha and ketchup glaze
I’ve shared this glaze on my meatloaf sandwich recipe. To be totally fair, meatballs are sort of like little meatloaves, so that’s where my brain went when I wanted to try a different meatball recipe. The glaze itself is spicy. When you add it to the meatballs it does contribute some spicy heat, but I don’t feel like it would overwhelm most people.
Folks who hate hot spicy foods read this part:
If you don’t like spicy foods, you can still make a version of this meatball sub! Just find every instance of “sriracha” in the recipe and either remove it or replace it with more ketchup. It’s as simple as that. Problem solved.
Adding more ketchup will make the sandwich sweeter, so you might just want to omit the sriracha. OR you might want to just reduce the sriracha down to a low amount which will still give the meatballs a little depth of flavor.
Basically: these meatballs are spicy by the time bread and cheese are brought into the mix, but you can adjust the heat levels by changing the amount of sriracha. The bread and cheese will also bring down the meatball heat levels considerably.
Knock yourself out with the cheese of your choice. As you’ll see below in the many photos I took of these sandwiches, I used all sorts of sliced cheese options. I used sharp cheddar, provolone, and even gouda and they all contributed some creaminess and potential cooling factors that offset the sriracha.
Reheating the meatball subs and melting the cheese
Some of you reading this possibly live in a household with enough family members that can dust through 20 or 24 large meatballs in a single meal, but I’m sure many of you are like me and you’re going to have some meatballs left over for multiple meals. If that’s the case, it’s easy to build a meatball sandwich and reheat these with cheese on top.
When I reheat these meatballs and bread to build a sandwich, I put the meatballs topped with cheese into the bread and bake them at 400 degrees F (205 C) for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the cheese, but with less than 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven, you should be all good and melty by the end.
Spicy sriracha meatball sub sandwich
This is a good one. If you like meatballs and a little spice, you should give it a try. You can easily adjust the spice level by reducing the sriracha but if you are at all ok with spicy heat, the bread and cheese muffle it quite a bit.
Make it extra hot?
If you really want to double down on the spice, I think you can figure out a few ways, but I would suggest doubling the sriracha, adding pickled jalapenos, and incorporating a few spreads of extra sriracha onto the bun when you slice it.
I used a little parsley garnish on some of these, and it does make for a more attractive photo, but it does almost nothing for the flavor and texture of the meatball sub. Garnishes are important for some people!
This spicy and savory sub sandwich contains tender meatballs that are perfect alongside melty cheese and tucked into a bread roll.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 3⁄4 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup ketchup
- 1⁄4 cup sriracha
- 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 six-inch bread roll
- 2 to 4 meatballs (from above)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sriracha glaze
- 1 to 2 slices of cheddar cheese (can use American, Swiss, gouda or provolone)
- diced parsley (for garnish)
- grated parmesan (for garnish)
Meatballs: Add 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium pan. When the oil is shimmering, add diced onions and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the onions are soft.
After 8 to 10 minutes add garlic, stir it in with the onions, and cook for another two minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow garlic and onions to cool in a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 C).
In the large bowl with the garlic and onions, combine all Meatball ingredients. With clean hands, mix everything together so that all ingredients are combined very well with the ground beef.
Again, with your hands, pull off hunks of the ground beef mixture and roll them into balls that are about 1.5 inches across. With 2 pounds of meat, you should end up with 20 to 24 meatballs.
Add all meatballs to a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving some space between each meatball.
Once the oven has reached 400 F, cook the meatballs for 20 minutes.
Sriracha glaze: while the meatballs are cooking, add all sriracha glaze ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk to combine fully.
Once the meatballs have cooked for 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, and with a kitchen brush or a spoon, add some sriracha glaze to each meatball. Once they have all been glazed add the pan of meatballs back to the oven and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. If you have a digital thermometer, you want to ensure the meatballs get to 160 degrees F to be completely cooked through.
If you are making meatball subs immediately, leave your oven on so that you will have an opportunity to melt the cheese.
Sandwich assembly: if your meatballs are cold when you are making this sandwich, you will need to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
Slice a bread roll lengthwise 2/3rds of the way through the bread and carefully open the roll up like a hinge. You can remove some of the interior bread at this point if you would like the meatballs to tuck into the bread a bit more. This is optional though.
Add 3 meatballs for every six inches of bread, top with more sriracha glaze and top the meatballs with slices of cheese. Close the sandwich and add each meatball filled sandwich to a sheet pan.
If your meatballs are cold: add the pan with meatball subs to the 350-degree oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes to melt the cheese and warm everything through.
If your meatballs are hot: add the pan with meatball subs to the already hot oven and bake for 2 to 4 minutes to melt the cheese and warm everything through. The oven is already pretty hot, so peek at the sub from time to time to make sure nothing burns. When the cheese is melty pull it out of the oven.
Sprinkle diced parsley and parmesan cheese on the saucy parts of each sandwich. Serve and enjoy.
Check back next week for zero meatballs but the same amount of sandwiches
We’re going to be creating some sandwiches, but no one knows what they are yet! If you want to find out first, support the site and join the Patreon for inside information, early recipes, and the opportunity to steer the future of this sandwich blog.