Rich and delicious, my meatball sandwich recipe is true comfort food when a mouthwatering, hot, Italian-style sandwich is what you crave. Prepared with tender, saucy beef meatballs, flavorful provolone cheese, and fresh herbs all nestled into ciabatta rolls, this meatball sandwich is bite after bite of savory, cheesy bliss!
A Mighty Tasty Meatball Sandwich
Friends, I have such an incredible soft spot for hot, juicy, and savory Italian-style sandwiches, and the humble-yet-decadently-comforting meatball sandwich is hands down one of my all time favorites.
In my teens and early twenties, whenever my friends and I would make a stop at a sandwich shop or deli, I'd almost always get a meatball sub, all smothered in ooey-gooey mozzarella or provolone, and topped off with some yummy, warm marinara sauce—what a savory (and deliciously messy!) treat!
And because these days, as a recipe developer, I really appreciate giving some of my old favorite “guilty pleasures” a slightly more sophisticated, gourmet, and whole food based slant, I figured that creating a super savory, garlicky, herby, and comforting meatball sandwich recipe would be a fun thing to do for those times when I'm nostalgic for this old fave.
My meatball sandwich comes with tender, juicy all-beef meatballs brimming with both dried and fresh herbs, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It's then browned off and simmered in marinara sauce for a few minutes until cooked through.
Nestled between two pieces of toasted ciabatta, then topped with provolone and broiled until melted, this saucy meatball sandwich is the perfect indulgence when a hot, saucy and savory Italian-style sandwich is beckoning!
My Meatball Sandwich Recipe
There are basically four components to a meatball sandwich, which are the meatballs, the marinara sauce, the cheese, and the bread.
Because I have my own homemade marinara sauce recipe that I absolutely adore and always prepare when a recipe calls for marinara, I begin by preparing that and keeping it warm.
You could absolutely use your own favorite store-bought marinara sauce as a shortcut—just opt for a very flavorful, good quality one.
Then come the meatballs! I like to use organic 85/15 ratio of lean to fat ground beef (you could also use a combo of pork and beef, or even sub turkey), and combine that with lots of savory, flavorful seasoning to make the “stars” of this sammy extra delicious.
When it comes to the “vessel” or the bread for this meatball sandwich, any soft, rustic bread will work. If I can find square shaped ciabatta rolls, then I cut those in half and toast each side before nestling the ingredients in between.
Another option is a whole ciabatta loaf that one can simply cut into four equal portions, or even soft sub rolls, or any other not-too-dense sandwich rolls.
And then, of course, there's the cheese…
For my meatball sandwich recipe I opt for slightly pungent and savory provolone, but one could easily substitute whole milk mozzarella. Both are wonderfully meltable and delicious!
Here's a sneak peek at my meatball sandwich recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To begin, mix together the meatball ingredients and then roll the meat mixture into roughly 1 ounce size portions; then, allow the meatballs to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Next, if preparing my homemade marinara sauce, prepare that and keep it warm. If using store-bought, then empty the jar into a medium-size sauce pan, and gently heat it up until hot.
- To prepare the meatballs, sear them in a hot skillet just until nicely browned but not completely cooked through, setting them onto a platter to hold until all are seared.
- Add the meatballs to the marinara sauce and allow them to gently simmer for about 10 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
- To assemble the meatball sandwiches, slice open the ciabatta rolls and place them cut-side up on a baking tray. Preheat your “broil” setting, then toast the ciabatta until lightly golden, and rub each slice with a garlic clove. Next, spoon a few meatballs along with some sauce onto the bottom half of the ciabatta roll, top with provolone cheese, and broil until melted.
- Sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley, cover with top ciabatta roll, and serve.
by Ingrid Beer
This mouthwatering meatball sandwich is prepared with saucy beef meatballs and creamy provolone cheese on garlicky ciabatta!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 854 calories per sandwich
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 1 pound organic ground beef (85/15)
- 1 egg
- 2 ounce French-style roll, processed to a fine breadcrumbs (or ¾ cup prepared breadcrumbs)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped, flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons half and half, or milk
- Olive oil
- 24 ounces marinara sauce
- 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
- 1 clove garlic, peeled of paper
- 4 slices provolone cheese
- Fresh basil leaves or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To a large bowl add your ground beef, plus all of the ingredients up to and including the half and half (or milk). Using your hands, gently mix the ingredients together to combine everything well, and portion out roughly 1 ounce size meatballs, rolling them between your palms (you should end up with about 21 meatballs). Chill for 30 minutes.
- While the meatballs chill, if preparing my homemade marinara sauce, then prepare that according to instructions. If using store-bought marinara sauce, then add it to medium-size sauce pan or pot, and gently heat until hot.
- Once the meatballs have chilled, place a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, work in batches to brown the meatballs, swirling/moving the pan around gently to help the meatballs keep their round shape, browning them on all sides, about 3 minutes or so. Remove and keep them in a bowl or on a plate to hold, and repeat with the rest of the meatballs. (They will not be completely cooked through at this point.)
- Once all the meatballs are browned, add them into your hot marinara sauce and allow the meatballs to very gently simmer in the sauce, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Next, turn your oven on to the “broil” setting, and prepare a large baking sheet. Place the sliced ciabatta rolls, cut-side up, onto the baking sheet and toast until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven (leave the broiler on), and rub the garlic clove over each slice, then drizzle with a touch of olive oil.
- To assemble, spoon about 5 of the meatballs plus some of the sauce onto the bottom halves of the toasted ciabatta rolls, and top the meatballs with a slice of provolone cheese. Place back under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes just until the cheese is gooey and melted.
- Sprinkle over some of the fresh basil or parsley, and cover with the top of the ciabatta roll, pressing down a bit. Cut in half, if desired, and serve hot.
Tips & Tidbits for my Meatball Sandwich recipe:
- Lean, organic beef: My pick for making flavorful and juicy meatballs is 85/15 organic, grass-fed ground beef. It's only slightly more expensive, but the quality and flavor is much better, so opt for that if possible. Other options for meat are ground pork, or a combo of ground pork and beef, or even ground turkey, though this will be leaner and slightly drier.
- My homemade marinara sauce, of good quality store-bought: If you'd like to use my savory and easy homemade marina sauce, then click here. Otherwise, feel free to use your favorite good quality store-bought variety, for a shortcut.
- Soft, rustic rolls or bread: I love soft, square ciabatta rolls for this sandwich, but if you can't find those, you can substitute a large ciabatta loaf and cut it into four equal sandwich portions. Other great options are Italian-style rolls, soft hoagie rolls, of even larger French rolls, Avoid super dense, crusty bread as it will be more difficult to bite through.
- Choice of cheese: Provolone has a wonderful creaminess to it, as well as fantastic flavor. However, whole milk mozzarella slices (or even grated) will work just fine as well—basically any mild, creamy, and highly meltable cheese.
Craving more delicious recipes with meatballs? Check out these Swedish Meatballs, this Rigatoni Meatball Soup, this Albondigas Soup, this Minestrone Soup with Meatballs, this Meatball Soup, these Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs, or these Chicken Meatballs!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2016, and has been updated with even more love!