Italian Meatball Sandwiches

I have to start this post by clearing stating that I am NOT a fan of meatball sandwiches…. There are many great sandwich shops that serve them and my family loves them, but I have just never been a fan.  Then there are the frozen meatballs that you can buy and just dump in sauce and heat for a quick dinner… I’m not even going to talk about those because it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

All that being said, you might wonder why I would write a post about a sandwich that I hate.  The reason?


Because these sandwiches are awesome!

Yes, I said it.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these sandwiches.  I originally tried making these just because my entire family loves meatball sandwiches so much, and I love my family.  I honestly did not expect to like them at all and decided it was something to endure.  Then I ate one.  It was delicious.  Suddenly I loved meatball sandwiches.  But only these ones.  I still won’t order them at a restaurant, and if anyone even mentions buying those frozen meatballs I shiver.

So, that being said, whether or not you like meatball sandwiches, you really need to try these.  You will be converted.  I promise.  These are great for hungry teenagers, too.

A couple of good tips

  1. These really deserve a good, chewy bun.  A soft, light bun is just not going to be as good.
  2. Be careful when handling ground beef as you mix the meatballs.  Meat that has been overmixed will start to break down in a weird way.  That’s why the recipe says to crumb the meat as you add it.  Then mix it gently.
  3. The sauce is a must.  Don’t substitute a jar of premade sauce, because…no.
  4. The recipe will make enough meatballs for about 12 sandwiches. If you feel like that’s too many, you can cut the recipe in half, but if you’re making them anyway, I would freeze them.
  5. A toasted bun and some cheese take the sandwich from good to excellent.  Use mozzarella or provolone, whichever you prefer.  I like to toast the bun, then add the cheese before adding the meatballs and sauce.  Keeps the bun from soaking up all the liquid.

A warning

Once upon a time I thought it would be a good idea to make the meatballs and then throw it all in the crock pot.  Don’t do it.  It might sound easier, especially if you’re going to be busy or not home, but this is definitely not a recipe for the crock pot.  Unless you’d rather have meat sludge sandwiches.

The Recipe:


For the meatballs:

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
  • 2 lbs. ground beef

For the sauce:

  • 2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz. size)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • ½ tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine everything except the cracker crumbs and ground beef and mix well.  Crumble the meat over the mixture and add crackers.  Mix gently just until combined.  Shape into balls approximately 1-inch in size and place on a broiler pan.


Bake for 25 minutes at 350°.  Drain.  Meatballs can be frozen at this point if desired.


For sauce, combine all ingredients in a large skillet.  Bring to a low boil and add meatballs.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.


Serve meatballs and sauce on hoagie buns and top with mozzarella cheese if desired.

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