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One-Pan Meatball Marinara and Meatball Subs

This meatball marinara pairs parmesan and romano stuffed meatballs with a perfect onion and garlic infused tomato sauce. It’s perfect for homemade meatball subs, pasta, and all kinds of other dishes.

I’ll include some ideas and a few of my favorite recommendations in addition to the recipe walkthrough below. Happy cooking! 

homemade meatball subs

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How to Make the Homemade Meatball Marinara

The real star of this recipe is the meatball marinara. It just made a lot of sense to put it on sammiches. 

I’m confident in your home cooking skills, but I figured a few visual walkthroughs might help you out. The first step in the recipe calls for onion strips. In case the written instructions are confusing, check out the visual guide below for dicing an onion: 

photo process on dicing an onion

Skip photos 3 and 4 and you’ll have easy onion strips! 

Beyond that, the rest of the meatball ingredients are easy. Just throw the onion and garlic in with some herbs and spices, beef, and form your meatballs. 

After the meatballs are cooked, throw the remaining onion in a pan before adding the garlic and crushed tomatoes. 

Cook that down a bit, add your meatballs back in, and voilà—easy meatball marinara. 

The Meatball Subs

Since my blog focusing on making healthy-ish recipes, this is where you’ll find the most room for improvement. Other than using a leaner cut of beef, there’s not much to be done for lightening up the meatball marinara. But you could get creative with the hoagie rolls. 

My first thought for a replacement was something like Joseph’s pitas that I use for pita pizzas. They have 60 calories per pita compared to the 210 calories in the hoagie rolls I used. If you have trouble finding them, other pitas and lower calorie flatbreads would do the trick. 

And if you wanted to ditch the meatballs subs altogether for a lower calorie meal, you could pair this meatball marinara with something like Palmini pasta (like my low carb pasta carbonaraor over rice like my chorizo meatballs

low carb pasta carbonara twirled on a fork

Final Recipe Notes

One important recipe step to emphasize is covering the pan. In recipe testing, I tried several batches and had a tough time cooking the meatballs all the way through in a reasonable time window without covering. If you don’t have a pan with a cover, place a baking sheet or something over the pan to trap some of that heat in. 

The only other recommendation I’d make would be to use a food thermometer to check on the meatballs. You can find the one I use on my Amazon list

That’s it! You’ll find the printable recipe card below. When you try this meatball marinara, I’d love to see it. Take a photo and tag me on Instagram @mason_woodruff or share it with my free Facebook group

One Pan Meatball Marinara Subs

An amazing meatball marinara with garlic and onion stuffed meatballs on hoagie rolls with melted mozzarella.

Meatball Marinara

  • 1 lb Lean Ground Beef (I used 93/7)
  • 1 large (300g) Yellow Onion
  • 8 cloves (40g) Garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1/4 C (30g) Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese (or parmesan only)
  • 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt (or 1/8 tsp table salt)
  • 15 oz can Crushed Tomatoes

Meatball Subs

  • 4 Hoagie Rolls (I used Pepperidge Farms white rolls)
  • 1/2 C (56g) Shredded Mozzarella

Meatball Marinara

  1. Cut the onion into strips. (Remove the non-root end and cut down the center of the root to create two flat surfaces. Then cut across both halves.) Dice 1/4th of the onion and mince the garlic for the meatballs. Set the remaining onion strips aside.

  2. Mix the dry spices, diced onion (about 50g), half the minced garlic (20g), and parmesan together in a large bowl before adding the beef.

  3. Mix the beef with the spices until evenly incorporated. Divide the beef into 12 pieces. (Each ball should weigh roughly 1.6 ounces for accuracy.)

  4. Heat a large covered pan over medium-high heat with nonstick cooking spray before adding the meatballs. Cook for 1-2 minutes, covered, until the bottoms begin to brown. Flip the meatballs and cook for another 1-2 minutes, covered.

  5. Continue turning to brown evenly and cover when you're not turning. The meatballs should be cooked through (160F internal temp with no pink) in about 6-8 minutes.

  6. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a plate and add the onions to the pan.

  7. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add the remaining minced garlic in the last 30 seconds of cooking.

  8. Add the crushed tomatoes to the onions and stir everything together. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and add the meatballs back to the pan.

Meatball Subs

  1. Preheat an oven to 400F. Place the hoagie rolls on a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats. (Keep an eye on them to avoid burning.)

  2. When the oven is ready, remove the rolls and add 3 meatballs to each roll. Top with the remaining onions and tomato sauce.

  3. Top with cheese and bake for an additional 4-6 minutes to melt the cheese. Top with fresh basil, parsley flakes, pepperoncinis, or your choice of toppings. Enjoy!

  • Each meatball sub has 11 Smart Points.
  • Nutrition facts for the meatball marinara only: 980 calories, 112g protein, 36g carbs, and 41g fat (2 Smart Points per meatball)

Dulce Gutierrez

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

At first this seems complicated but it isn’t at all. The steps are really easy to follow and it’s all ready in no time! It was really delicious and satisfying!

Morgan Hollman

Sunday 24th of November 2019

I loved the sauce and the meatballs! It was so easy to make myself and satisfying! I used Joseph’s pitas instead of hoagie rolls to lighten it up a little more. Will be making again


Thursday 21st of November 2019

One other option that works well is to brown the meatballs on all sides and transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking. Keeps the meatballs from getting burned. :)