If the thought of making homemade meatballs is a daunting one, keep on reading because these meatball subs recipe in the Crockpot is a keeper.
This recipe does not require baking, transferring, dumping, or frying your meatballs. It’s a stress-free and busy-mom dream recipe!
And what’s better than awesome family-friendly dinner ideas like this one? Recipes that yield leftovers for lunch the next day!
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Easy Weeknight Meal
We all love recipes that require minimal effort when you have a family ready to eat, which is why these meatballs made in the crockpot are always a favorite meal, even on a weeknight!
Recipes like this can be made in bulk and enjoyed more than once -more on this below- like serving it over spaghetti the first night and turning leftovers into subs.
Let’s take a trip to the kitchen and check your fridge and pantry for these items:
- Onion: adds flavor to the tomato sauce.
- Ground turkey: can be swapped out with lean ground beef.
- Bread crumbs: adds some heftiness to the meatballs.
- Egg: helps the ground meat and breadcrumbs stick together.
- Italian seasoning: a combination of basil, oregano, and thyme.
- Garlic powder: easy to sprinkle into the meat mixture.
- Salt: makes everything taste better.
- Parmesan cheese: has a sharp, cheesy flavor that belongs in meatballs.
- Diced tomatoes: Italian-style tomatoes are optimal, but petite diced also work.
- Pasta sauce: use your favorite jarred tomato-based pasta sauce.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese: THE cheese for meatball subs!
- Hoagie sub bread rolls: could also use a French baguette sliced into 5-inch sections.
Below, you’ll find a recipe card with the ingredient amounts and full directions.
How to Make Meatball Subs in the Crockpot
Whether you make the meatballs the night before and turn the crockpot on in the morning or do it all at once the same day, coming home to a great-smelling kitchen and a dinner ready to be eaten is the best feeling ever! Here is what you’ll be doing:
- Make a base layer
Chop the onion and add it to the bottom of your slow cooker dish.
- Prepare the meatballs
Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, eggs, and seasonings in a large bowl. Once the mixture is cohesive, roll it into 16 golf-sized meatballs.
- Set to cook
Stack the meatballs in an even layer in the slow cooker and top them with the tomatoes and pasta sauce. Cover with lid and cook for 3-6 hours.
Slice or fold open each hoagie roll, sprinkle a little cheese at the bottom, and top with meatballs and some sauce. Sprinkle additional cheese and enjoy.
How many Meatballs Per Sub?
Depending on the meatball size, a typical hoagie sub can fit 3 to 4 of them lined up from end to end.
Make Ahead Tips
Meatball recipes like this one can be fully prepped ahead by making the meatballs, placing them inside the slow cooker with the other ingredients as noted in the recipe and then refrigerated overnight covered with plastic wrap.
In the morning, all you have to do is remove the bowl of the slow cooker from the refrigerator, place it inside the crockpot, and set it to cook.
By dinnertime, you’ll have a delicious dinner waiting for you!
Doubling and Tripling the Recipe
You can double or triple the meatball recipe for gatherings, extra guests, or freezing. Grab a larger bowl and get rolling.
You can freeze these uncooked on a lined sheet pan, and once frozen, transfer them to a zip bag and kept frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready for fresh meatballs, take however many you need out of the freezer, put them in the slow cooker with sauce, and you’re ready to go.
How to Store Leftovers
Once cooled, you can store leftover meatballs in an airtight container or zip bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze them with sauce for up to 3 months.
Avoiding Soggy Buns
While soggy buns can put a damper on your sub-enjoyment experience, there are several easy things you can do to prevent this.
Toast the subs
A toasty bread top layer will help retain the integrity of the bun by preventing the meatball sauce from seeping down.
Make a layer of cheese
Instead of topping the subs with all the cheese, distribute some of it under the meatballs. With the heat, the melty later will also make a barrier between the cheese and the bread. You can also use sliced cheese.
Don’t let the assembled subs sit out longer than necessary since this gives the bread time to soak up the sauce.
Crockpot Meatball Subs Recipe
Yields about 2 ½ dozen small meatballs
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Lunch
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 14-ounce jar of petite diced tomatoes
- 24-ounce jar pasta sauce (or homemade)
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 hoagie sub bread rolls
- Chopped parsley, optional
- Spread the onion evenly onto the bottom of the slow cooker dish.
- In a large bowl, mix the ground meat with bread crumbs, egg, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese.
- Use your hands to roll the mixture into golf-sized balls (about 2 tablespoons per meatball) and layer them evenly inside the slow cooker dish. Pour the can of tomatoes and pasta sauce over the meatballs.
- Cover the dish with the lid and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
- To serve, slice or fold open each hoagie roll, sprinkle a little cheese at the bottom, and top with meatballs and some sauce. Sprinkle additional cheese and enjoy.
- Serving Size: 1 sandwich
- Calories: 569
- Sugar: 16.8 g
- Sodium: 1602.8 mg
- Fat: 18 g
- Saturated Fat: 6.6 g
- Trans Fat: 0.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 63.4 g
- Fiber: 9.4 g
- Protein: 35.8 g
- Cholesterol: 130 mg
These look delicious. Definitely adding to the list to try. I think my glutenfreekid will love these! Eager to try for his school lunch one day.
I don’t have a crockpot. Can I still do this recipe?
sure, you’d need to cook the meatballs first and them combine them with the sauce.
This is perfect! I’ve been wanting to make meatballs but my oven’s out of commission at the moment. I’m making these Whole30-compliant (I’m on day 22!) – no grains or dairy – and am adding in veggies. I’ll be back with an update!
Back! Here’s how I did mine:
almost 2lbs ground pork
1lb ground beef
shredded zucchini & carrots, chopped white mushrooms, bell peppers & onions sauteed in EVOO, seasoned with salt, garlic powder & oregano
I used about 1/8c almond flour in place of breadcrumbs
Mixed up & topped with 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes and
about 3/4 jar of pasta sauce.
I pretty much used whatever I had. This made like 35 large meatballs for me.
My husband had them with mozzarella & parmesan cheese & his favorite (non-Whole30) sauce on a bun. I had mine with the leftover sauce in the crockpot over sauteed cabbage. So good! I have lots leftover to freeze too :)
I kind of have an embarrassing question… Where do I find ground turkey? I’ve never seen it before but I’ve been dying to start substituting it for ground beef!
At the grocery by the ground beef.. Usually between the beef and chicken section. Ask your butcher if you can’t find it. Glad you asked! :)
Gonna try these soon.