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There are two things we love: Italian food and sandwiches. These vegetarian meatball subs satisfy both of those cravings while still being ‘healthy-ish.’ Toasted hoagie rolls are loaded with delicious vegetarian meatballs, smothered in a homemade marinara sauce, and then loaded with cheese. Add a quick and easy salad for a delicious and satisfying weeknight dinner.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Aside from the meatless ground beef, you will need a few pantry staples and soft hoagie rolls.
In the printable recipe below, you can find a complete list of ingredients and measurements.
- Plant-Based Ground Meat: This recipe calls for a pound of uncooked plant-based ground “beef”. We opted for Beyond Meat but many options are available in most supermarket freezer sections. You don’t want to use the ‘cooked’ meatless crumbles, but you could substitute them with pre-made meatless meatballs to make this more convenient (we love the Gardein meatless meatballs).
- Whole Peeled Tomatoes: You can easily use a store-bought sauce but making your own is easy and provides more flavor. Opt for whole-peeled tomatoes to get the freshest taste without the additives that diced or crushed canned tomatoes contain.
- Cheese: We opted for shredded mozzarella cheese but you can also use shredded or sliced provolone cheese.
- Hoagie Rolls: You want a bun that is thick and can hold 3-5 meatballs. The best rolls will be labeled as submarine or hoagie rolls.
- Spices: We used a combination of dried and fresh spices: basil, oregano, onion, garlic, and parsley.
How to Make Vegetarian Meatball Subs
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Plant-based ground meat does not contain all the fat that traditional ground meat does so you will need to add fat such as olive oil for cooking.
1. Marinara Sauce: In a medium bowl crush the peeled whole tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher and set aside. Add olive oil to a large skillet with high sides over medium heat. Once hot, add the red pepper flake, onion powder, and garlic powder, and saute spices for about 2 minutes but don’t let them burn.
To the skillet add the tomatoes along with any juice from the can. Bring the tomato and spice mixture to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. After the tomato sauce is bubbling a bit, stir in oregano, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced, stirring occasionally.
2. Vegetarian Meatballs: While the sauce is simmering, you can make the meatballs. In a large bowl combine the plant-based ground meat, panko, pressed garlic, diced onion, dried basil and oregano, and fresh chopped parsley.
Once the mixture has been combined, roll the meatball mixture into golf ball-sized portions (about one ounce). You can use an ice cream scoop to help with keeping them consistent. Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat, then arrange the meatballs spaced so as not to crowd the pan. Cook until the meatballs are brown and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F. Transfer the cooked meatballs to the marinara sauce and bring it back to a simmer.
3. Vegetarian Meatball Sub: While the meatballs are simmering in the tomato sauce, prepare the hoagie rolls. Slice each roll lengthwise down the top of the roll about ¾ of the way through the roll. Carefully spread the cut side of each hoagie lightly with butter and place them on a cookie or baking sheet. Bake the rolls at 400°F for about 5 minutes or until they are toasty. Once toasted, place 3-5 meatballs into each hoagie roll and spoon sauce on top of each roll. Top with shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese and place the subs back on the cookie sheet. Return the subs to the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted, then top with additional fresh parsley and serve.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: One of the best things about this recipe is that it can all be made ahead for a quick, delicious weekday dinner. Cook everything as instructed but don’t assemble. Refrigerator or freeze the meatballs and sauce until ready to eat then reheat, assemble, and serve.
How to Store: Leftover meatballs and sauce can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze both in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat: The best way to reheat the meatballs and sauce over low heat in a skillet. Heat them until the meatballs are warmed through (about 8-10 minutes.) To reheat in a microwave, place the sauce and meatballs in a microwave-safe container, covering them with plastic wrap to keep in moisture. Cook in 30-second intervals until the meatballs are warmed through, stirring sauce and meatballs between. You can allow frozen meatballs and sauce to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating for the best results.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- If your marinara sauce is too thin, add a little tomato paste to help thicken it up without diluting the tomato flavor.
- These subs are best eaten fresh so don’t assemble them in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, with a couple of easy substitutions, you can make a delicious vegan meatball sub. Replace the cheese and butter with vegan options. For the hoagie roll, opt for one that is bakery fresh and vegan.
Let’s Connect! If you make this recipe or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this meatball sub recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
Caramelized Onion Mushroom Swiss Turkey Burger
Red Chile Chicken Street Tacos
Nashville Hot Honey Chicken Slider Sandwiches
Vegetarian Meatball Subs
- 1 Large Skillet with High Sides
- 1 Large Skillet
- 1 Medium-Sized Bowl
- 1 Cookie or Baking Sheet
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 28 ounces peeled whole tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound uncooked plant-based ground meat
- 1 ½ tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Vegetarian Meatball Sub
- 4 hoagie rolls
- 6 ounces shredded Provolone or mozzarella cheese
- In a medium bowl crush the tomatoes with your hands and set aside.
- In a large skillet with high sides over medium heat add the olive oil. Once hot, add the red pepper flake, onion powder, and garlic powder. Saute spices for about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes to the skillet along with any tomato juice. Bring the tomato and spice mixture to a simmer then reduce the heat to low.
- Stir in oregano, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper, and allow the sauce to simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced, stirring occasionally.
- In a large bowl combine the plant-based ground meat, panko, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, and parsley.
- Roll the meatball mixture into about 1-ounce size golf balls.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until brown and at an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Transfer cooked meatballs to the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer.
Vegetarian Meatball Sub
- Slice each hoagie roll lengthwise down the top of the roll about ¾ of the way through the roll.
- Spread the cut side of each hoagie lightly with butter and place on a cookie or baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for about 5 minutes or until they are toasty.
- Place 3-5 meatballs into each hoagie roll. Spoon sauce on top of each roll and then top with shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese.
- Place subs back on the cookie sheet and return to the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted.