Easy Semi-Homemade Meatball Sub

In our house, semi-homemade isn’t a bad thing. This meatball sub recipe is a perfect example of making part of the recipe homemade while using prepared ingredients as a base. With a few simple supplies, you can make dinner come together in no time, and be sure to please everyone at the dinner table.

round white plate holding meatball sub on table with blue napkin

Meatball Sandwiches

This recipe is super easy, and one of my son’s favorite meals. I love it because it is easy and he often is the one that makes it so I don’t have to worry about meal time. It’s the classic flavors you probably already know, but I love how the air fryer gives texture to the meatballs.

The meatball sub is the perfect choice if you want an easy weeknight meal. Serve this with a side salad or your favorite veggies and enjoy a great meal for lunch or dinner.

meatball sub on white plate


For exact measurements of ingredients, check the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post. Seasonings may be adjusted to taste, or a ready-made sauce can be used.

  • Frozen meatballs (Italian or traditional)
  • Olive oil
  • Canned tomatoes and tomato paste
  • Beef broth
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Hoagie buns
sesame seed bun on meatball sandwich on white plate

How to Make Air Fryer Meatball Sub Sandwich

If making your sauce homemade, you will start by draining the tomatoes. Then put them, the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and oregano in a food processor or blender. Pulse this mixture for a few seconds, to combine and mash the tomatoes down. There will still be chunks, but mostly a puree. Set this aside.

In a medium skillet, add the olive oil over medium heat. To this, add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it is tender. Then, add the tomato puree and the beef broth. Stir this mixture and reduce heat to low. Let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, making sure you stir it regularly.

Then, add the meatballs, cover the skillet, and let it simmer for another 10 minutes until the meatballs are heated through.

While they cook, you can toast the buns if desired. To serve, spoon meatballs onto the bottom of the roll, then top with shredded cheese.

Pop into the oven or air fryer to broil if desired to melt the cheese.

meatball sub on plate with melted cheese and chopped parsley

What toppings go on meatball sandwiches?

Traditional Italian-style toppings for a meatball sub include marinara or pizza sauce and lots of melted mozzarella cheese. You can also add sautéed peppers and onions, pickles, and olives. For a more flavorful sandwich, add some Parmesan cheese or herbs like oregano or basil. Finally, you can also add some texture with lettuce, tomato slices, or fresh peppers and onions.

white plate holding meatball sub on sesame seed bun with melted cheese and fresh parsley


How long are cooked frozen meatballs good for?

When frozen, they will last up to 4 months in the freezer. Once you have removed them from the freezer and heated them through, they can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

What bread is best for making a meatball sub?

I prefer crusty Italian bread or a traditional hoagie roll. You want something sturdy enough to hold up to the weight of the meatballs and sauce. French bread, a thick sourdough loaf, or Texas toast are also options that may work well.

Semi-Homemade Meatball Sub Sandwich
Yield: 4

Semi-Homemade Meatball Sub Sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Delight in the flavors of a Semi-Homemade Meatball Sub, combining ready-made meatballs with homemade touches for a quick, delectable meal.


  • 14.5 oz. Italian Style diced tomatoes, drained
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 24 frozen meatballs (1 bag)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 hoagie rolls


  1. Drain the canned tomatoes. Place them in a food processor or blender along with tomato paste, salt, pepper, and oregano. Give this a few quick pulses to combine and break down the tomatoes. You should end up with a partially chunky puree.
  2. Then, add the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion and garlic to the skillet and sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until they soften. Next, pour in the tomato puree you set aside, followed by the beef broth. Mix the contents well and lower the heat. Allow the sauce to simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, ensuring that you stir occasionally.
  3. Add the meatballs to the sauce in the skillet. Place a lid on the skillet and let it simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are thoroughly warmed.
  4. In the meantime, if you prefer toasted buns, take this opportunity to toast them. To assemble the sub, ladle meatballs and sauce onto the base of the bun, and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Broil to melt if needed.


  • Add mushrooms or zucchini to the sauce for added texture.
  • Serve over a bed of lettuce for a lower carbohydrate option.
  • Feel free to season the sauce to taste with fresh or dried herbs.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 673Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 2213mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 8gSugar: 15gProtein: 34g

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