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 Meatball Subs
Ingredients you’ll need
- Chuck roast
- Pork Loin – shoulder work also work well.
- 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
- Meat Grinder – I used my 500-watt grinder from Meat! It’s quite a bit cheaper than some of their more powerful models but still does a great job.
- Cast iron pan
- Meat thermometer
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.
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.
Grind as per the instructions of your meat grinder, or check out our guide to grinding meat here.
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.
Give that a good mix until everything is incorporated, then form into 2-3 oz meatballs.
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
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.
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.
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 Subs
- 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.