Smoked Meatball Subs  

Elevate your meatball subs by grinding your own meat for fresh, flavorful and tender meatballs.
smoked meatball sub

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Nothing beats a good meatball sub. Homemade meatballs, saucy marinara, and lots of mozzarella cheese on a sub roll hit the spot every single time. 

In this recipe, we are going to take this classic dish and elevate it by grinding our own meat and smoking the meatballs. This is one you’ll definitely want to try! 

smoked meatballs in marinara sauce

Smoked Meatball Subs

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Chuck roast 
  • Pork Loin – shoulder work also work well.
  • Eggs
  • Seasonings – fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Bread crumbs – seasoned Italian.
  • Marinara sauce – I used store-bought, but homemade would be awesome.
  • Mozzarella cheese 
  • Sub rolls 

Equipment you’ll need

Why grind your own meat?

There are quite a few benefits to grinding your own meat:

  • You can control the amount of fat to meat ratio.
  • The texture will be better because your meat won’t spend time sitting in a package oxidizing. Instead, every meal will be fresh and your meat will be kept loose and moist.
  • You can control the amount of sodium.
  • You can experiment with different combinations of meat cuts and come up with your own custom blends
  • It’s more cost-efficient.
  • It tastes way better! 

What type of meat to use

I chose chuck roast because it’s well-marbled and has great flavor, especially when ground up. The meat-to-fat ratio also makes it an excellent choice.

I went with loin for the pork as it is a little leaner and balances well with the chuck. Pork shoulder would also be a good choice for a more inexpensive option. 

Both worked great together to make a flavorful meatball, and I was not disappointed.

How to make Smoked Meatball Subs

1. Grind your meat 

For grinding, I used a 500-watt grinder by Meat! This grinder effortlessly processes and grinds your meat. It has a simple design and is just an absolute workhorse, grinding up to 4 lbs of meat per minute. 

The attachments, blade, auger, and all the main components can be removed for easy cleaning. It’s straightforward to use and has been reliable.

Meat! grinder
Meat! grinder parts
meat! grinder
meat! grinder switch

To prep the meat prior to grinding, cut it into 1″ cubes. You want the grinder as cold as possible, so I usually place it into the freezer 30 minutes before I’m going to start grinding.

cubed beef and pork

Grind as per the instructions of your meat grinder, or check out our guide to grinding meat here.

Meat! grinder, grinding beef chuck
raw minced beef chuck on a white plate
raw ground pork loin on a white plate

2. The meatballs

Place the minced beef and pork into a bowl and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned Italian bread crumbs, fennel seed, and two lightly beaten eggs. 

raw ingredients of meatballs in a metal bowl
Try not to overmix, as this can cause the meatballs to be tough.

Give that a good mix until everything is incorporated, then form into 2-3 oz meatballs.

raw rolled meatballs on brown paper
They should be slightly bigger than the size of a golf ball.

Place the meatballs into a cast iron pan or something similar that will contain the meatballs and the sauce.

3. Fire up the smoker

Fire up your smoker to 250°F. 

I used my Pit Boss Elite 1600 for this cook, using hickory wood pellets.

4. Smoke them balls 

Place the cast iron pan into the smoker, close the lid, and let them smoke until they have an internal temperature of 140°F.

raw meatballs in a cast iron pan in the smoker

Tip the jar of marinara sauce into the cast iron pan and ensure the meatballs are covered.

Continue to smoke everything together for another 30 minutes.

cooked meatballs in marinara sauce in a skillet on the smoker
The extra 30 minutes allow the flavors to intensify a little more. 

Once the meatballs have finished cooking, remove them from the smoker.

5. Build a sub 

Toast your sub rolls in the oven, then stuff them with as many meatballs as you can. Spoon on some marinara sauce and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Garnish with a little parsley and serve with extra sauce on the side.

If the cheese has not melted enough for your liking, place the subs into your oven for 30 seconds under the broil setting to melt a little more.

Here are some more ideas for a Friday night feast: 

smoked meatball sub

Smoked Meatball Subs  

Freshly ground smoked meatballs, marinara sauce, and cheese stuffed into a sub roll.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 902kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger


  • 1 lb beef I used chuck
  • 1 lb pork I used pork loin
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper freshly ground
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 24 oz marinara sauce
  • 17 oz mozzerella cheese shredded
  • parsley to serve
  • 6 sub rolls


  • Fire up your smoker to 250°F.
  • Cut the beef and pork into 1" cubes. Grind as per the instructions of your meat grinder.
  • Place the ground meat into a bowl, and add the eggs, fennel seeds, seasoning, garlic powder, and breadcrumbs. Mix everything together until fully incorporated.
  • Form the mixture into 2-3 oz meatballs, roughly the size of golf balls, and place into a cast iron pan.
  • Put the pan into the smoker, close the lid, and let them smoke until they have reached an internal temperature of 140°F.
  • Tip the marinara sauce into the pan, ensuring all the meatballs are covered, and let them smoke for another 30 minutes, then remove from the smoker.
  • Toast the subs in your oven. Stuff with as many meatballs as you can, spoon on some marinara sauce, and top with mozzarella cheese. Garnish with a little parsley and serve with extra sauce on the side.


If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can always use pre-ground beef and pork.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan you just need something that will hold the meatballs and marinara sauce.
I used Hickory wood pellets for this cook.


Calories: 902kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 226mg | Sodium: 2164mg | Potassium: 909mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1145IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 496mg | Iron: 15mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximation only. If you’re worried you could always add a side of kale.

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