main dish | Recipes | slow cooker

Easy Crockpot Meatball Sub Recipe

This Easy Crockpot Meatball Sub Recipe is a perfect dinner idea for busy nights. What I love is you can use frozen meatballs plus a couple of other pantry staples, and you’ll have a satisfying dinner on the table with less than 5 minutes of prep work! 

Don’t want to mess with the Crockpot?  Don’t worry, I got you covered and have included instructions for how to put these meatball sandwiches together on the stovetop. 

Meatball sub recipe

My slow cooker has been getting quite a workout lately with our busy weeknight schedule!

My son attends a martial arts program after school a few days a week and has to be picked up by 6. 6 PM is right in the middle of when I’m normally prepping dinner.  So having dinner already going in the slow cooker has been a lifesaver to me these last few weeks.

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Easy Meatball Sub Recipe

I have to say, the entire family loves these meatball subs!  

I always have meatballs in the freezer for quick meals and this meatball sub recipe with frozen meatballs is one of our favorite ways to use them.

Meatball sandwiches or subs are so easy to make in the slow cooker.  I use store-bought frozen meatballs, but if you have extra time, you can, of course, make your meatballs yourself.  

I promise it doesn’t get easier than chopping up an onion, dumping a bag of meatballs and a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker.  (Don’t forget to use a liner, so cleaning is quick and easy too!)

Crockpot meatball sub recipe

The meatballs stay in the slow cooker for a few hours. Which works well for me as I can toss everything together in the slow cooker when the Missy and I are having snacks and they’re ready to be made into a meatball sandwich when I get back home from picking my son up from his martial arts class.

What Kind of Bread is Best for Meatball Subs?

Any roll-type bread, such as those meant for hoagies or subs will work fine. I’ve even been known to use hot dog buns, but hot dog buns do fall apart more easily. 

When serving to small children, I look for smaller rolls that will hold about 3 to 4 meatballs on each sandwich.  Smaller rolls help reduce the risk of spaghetti sauce stained clothes (and spaghetti hair) since they’re much easier to hold and eat.

You could also just put the meatballs in a bowl and eat them with a fork. (Which is what I do when trying to stay low carb!)

Slow Cooker Meatball Subs

Though you can’t really tell from pictures, these meatball subs are super cheesy.

We do love cheese around here and it’s not a meatball sub without mozzarella cheese. I put the cheese under the meatballs so it melts right into the bread. You can use as much or as little cheese as you’d like on your subs.

These are definitely going to be a weeknight staple during going forward! 

Love slow cooker recipes too? I have a bunch more slow cooker recipes here.

Ingredients in this Meatball Sub Recipe

Want to give these Meatball Sandwiches a try?  Add these ingredients to your shopping list:

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 20 oz (ish) bag of frozen meatballs
  • 1 24 oz jar of your favorite tomato pasta sauce
  • Italian spice blend
  • Sandwich buns
  • Mozzarella cheese

How to Make Meatball Subs in the Crockpot

It’s super easy to cook the meatballs in your slow cooker.  Slice the onion and place them in the slow cooker. Add the meatballs and pour the pasta sauce over meatballs and sprinkle everything with the Italian seasoning.

Set the slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 2.5 hours.  After the cooking time, gently stir the meatball sub mixture to thoroughly distribute onions sauce and meatballs.

Sprinkle a handful of cheese on the bottom of bun/sandwich roll, top with meatballs, plenty of sauce and more cheese if desired.

For an extra toasty, melted cheesy meatball sub, place the subs under your broiler until the buns are toasty and the cheese is melted and browning.

How to Make the Subs on the Stovetop:

Making the meatballs on the stove stop is just as easy as making them in the slow cooker.

Slice the onions and sautee them over med-high heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft. Reduce the heat to medium and add the meatballs, sauce and Italian seasoning. Cover and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to med-low, remove the cover and simmer another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

What to Serve with Meatball Subs

Ok, so in all reality, on nights when we’re pressed for time I will most likely pop open a can of pinto or green beans or serve carrots and hummus as the side with this meatball sub recipe.

But if you have time to prepare something extra, my family especially loves when I make corn on the cob in the microwave or when I take the time to make their favorite pasta salad recipe.

A couple other family favorite side dishes that would work great with these subs are:

meatball sandwich

What Toppings are Good on a Meatball Sub?

Ok, if you have small kids, probably no additional toppings are needed. (In fact, you may even find yourself picking out the red onions!)

But for those of us with a more “progressive” palate a few topping ideas would be:

  • Black olives
  • Pickled banana peppers or jalapenos
  • Diced pepperoni
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
  • Bell pepper slices (pickled or fresh)
  • A sprinkle of red pepper flakes fo a bit of a kick.

How great would a meatball sub “Bar” be at your next game day get together?

Save this Easy Meatball Sub Recipe here ==>>  

meatball subs

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Easy Crockpot Meatball Subs Recipe

  • Author: Jamie Sanders
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 subs 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: slow cooker


  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 20 oz (ish) bag of frozen meatballs
  • 1 24 oz jar of your favorite tomato pasta sauce
  • 2 tsp Italian spice blend
  • Sandwich buns
  • mozzarella cheese




  1. Add onion to slow cooker top with frozen meatballs.
  2. Pour pasta sauce over meatballs and sprinkle  Italian seasoning over sauce.
  3. Cook on low of 4 to 5 hours or high for 2 to 2.5 hours
  4. After cooking time, gently stir to thoroughly distribute onions and meatballs.
  5. Sprinkle a handful of cheese on the bottom of bun/sandwich roll, top with meatballs, plenty of sauce and more cheese.
  6. For extra melty cheese, you can place the subs under your broiler until the buns are toasty and the cheese is melted and browning.


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