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17 Best Meatball Sub Toppings that Take the Ordinary to Extraordinary

17 Best Meatball Sub Toppings that Take the Ordinary to Extraordinary

Meatball subs have been around for many years and come in all shapes and sizes. 

Traditionally, we make the dish using an Italian roll, and to fill the sub, we use meatballs. 

Typically, ground beef is the most common protein, but some people prefer lamb or turkey.

Then, we drizzle a generous amount of marinara sauce to tie the meal together.

Once that’s done, you have a hearty lunch that can fuel you for the rest of the day.

However, if you’re looking for a little more excitement with your meal, you may want to add a few items. 

There are countless meatball sub toppings that you can sprinkle on for a boost in flavor.

From a zesty basil salad to tangy pineapples, the list should have an option that works for you.

Meatball Sub Toppings: Ideas to Spice up Your Sandwich

There are hundreds of options when it comes to adding toppings to your meatball sub.

From the simple variety to the incredibly adventurous.

I took the liberty of compiling a list of many of the complimentary flavors, so you don’t have to. 

Let’s jump into some amazing toppings for meatball subs.

1. Aromatic Herbal Garlic Butter

On my journey to find the perfect meatball sub topping, I tried out countless recipes.

However, none were as simple, or as effective, as herbal garlic butter. 

This is an incredibly easy way to add extra flavor to any dish. All you’ll need is:

  • Garlic cloves
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsely
  • Butter

Throw all these into a food processor for a couple of minutes and you’re ready to go. 

Melt down the butter, then drizzle it on the sub.

You can also spread the butter on the bread before you assemble the meatball dish.

Next, pop the loaf into the oven for about three minutes to bake the tasty herbs into the bread.

2. Nutty Roasted Fennel

Fennel is one of the most underappreciated vegetables out there.

Many people prefer to stay away from the leafy, crunchy ingredient.

However, when prepared right, they can be the perfect buddy for your meatball sub. 

Roasting fennel will enhance its flavor.

The natural sugars inside the vegetable will caramelize and give you a nice nutty finish.

There are only two ingredients that go into this recipe: 

  • Fennel
  • Olive oil 

You can also add a sprinkle of salt to taste.

3. Easy Mexican Salad

When you think of meatball subs, salads are usually the last thing on your mind. 

Although, once you’ve tried this Mexican variety, all that will change.

This salad consists of: 

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Beans

All these ingredients can add a pleasant combination of flavors to your dish.

Plus, it’s super simple to make.

You can use any vegetables in your pantry depending on your preferences. 

On top of that, the Mexican salad will add a delightful crunch to every bite.

4. Spicy Chorizo

While meatballs are the main ingredient of this sub, they don’t have to be the only source of protein.

For all the meat lovers out there, you can add chorizo to your sandwich. 

This is a type of Mexican sausage that uses a bunch of herbs and spices.

For example:

  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Coriander
  • Chili powder

These will help cut through the high-fat content of the meatballs and add a little heat.

The only drawback of this topping for meatball subs is that it takes a while to prepare.

5. Sweet Caramelized Onions

Onions are one of the staple ingredients in every pantry.

We use them to add flavor, texture, and a bit of depth to all sorts of dishes.

When raw, they have a sharp flavor and a tough crunch.

Then, as soon as you add a little butter and heat, they’ll soften up.

The sugars inside the onions will caramelize and create an intense sweet aftertaste. 

This is the perfect way to cut through the richness of the marinara sauce.

For this, you just need two simple ingredients:

  • Onions
  • Butter

6. Tangy Pineapple

While meatball subs are delicious, there’s a lot of protein and fat in the mix. 

So, to delay the inevitable food coma, you may want to try out this Hawaiian twist (see the recipe here!). 

Including pineapples in your sandwich will add a bit of sweetness and a lot of tang. 

This is an excellent way to balance the heavy elements of the dish.

Pineapples will brighten up the sub and give it an exotic twist.

That makes this combo ideal for adventurous eaters.

7. Hearty Mushroom Sauce

We all know that steaks are better with gravy.

It adds an extra layer of flavor and juiciness to the protein.

Well, this mushroom sauce can do the same for your meatball sub. 

It consists of:

  • Mushroom
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Herbs

The mushrooms have a nutty aftertaste that will complement the hearty meatballs.

As for the vegetables and herbs, their central role is to balance out the fatty nature of the sandwich.

With a little elbow grease and prep work, you can enjoy this meal in under 30 minutes. 

8. Zesty Basil Vinaigrette

A vinaigrette is a sauce that we make by combining some type of fat with a mild acid, like vinegar. 

Generally, we use this to dress a salad, but it can also do wonders for your meatball sub.

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Lemon juice
  • Balsamic vinegar

As you can tell, most of the ingredients are incredibly zesty.

They’ll increase the acidity of your sandwich, which will make it much more enjoyable.

In addition, it’ll add a ton of moisture to the dish.

That makes it the perfect fix if you overcooked your meatballs.

Unfortunately, since the vinaigrette has a thin consistency, this sauce can get messy.

So, it’s best to use it as a dip.

9. Fresh Coleslaw

If you’re making meatball subs for the entire family, you may want to consider adding coleslaw.

This salad is an exceptionally easy way to add a few greens to an otherwise fatty meal. 

For that, you’ll need:

  • Cabbage
  • Mayonnaise
  • Vinegar 
  • Carrots 

The mayo and vinegar will boost the acidity of the overall dish.

This will add a kick and brightness to your sandwich. 

Other than that, the cabbage will add nutritional value and a delightful crunch.

So, your young ones won’t even realize they’re eating their veggies.

For the adults, you can even use this as a great side for meatball subs.

10. Simple Pizza Sauce

If you’re in the mood for a classic meatball sub, your missing topping may be pizza sauce. 

This will add a bit of pizzazz, without changing the original flavor profile of the meal.

The main ingredients in this dish are:

  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato sauce
  • Garlic
  • Onion powder 
  • Seasoning

Most people think this is the same as adding more marinara, but that’s not the case.

Pizza sauce has a thicker consistency and a more intense flavor.

That means you can drizzle it on top of the sandwich, or use it as a dip.

11. Effortless Ham and Mayo

Ham and Mayo recipe

Ham and mayo are one of the classic combinations that we all grew up eating.

It’s a wholesome snack that can bring back happy memories.

While they’re great on their own, they can be incredible on your meatball sub.

Ham is slightly greasy with an intense umami flavor.

That makes it the ideal companion for marinara sauce.

As for the mayo, it’ll add a sharp acidity that can cut through the rich meatballs. 

So, you end up with a perfectly balanced dish with almost no effort.

All you’ll need is:

  • Ham slices
  • Mayonnaise

12. Crunchy Tortilla Chips

When you look at meatballs subs as a whole, it’s a well-rounded dish.

You have protein, carbs, vegetables, and even dairy.

Although, there’s one area where the sandwich can fall a little short.

When it comes to texture, meatball subs can sometimes be a bit lackluster. 

Since we use plenty of sauce on the sandwich, the bread can get soggy after a while.

So, you’ll need an extra crunchy element.

For that, you can use:

  • Tortillas
  • Lime juice
  • Salt

13. Sharp Giardiniera

Meatballs are a classic Italian-American dish.

So, it should come as no surprise that Italian relish would work well with the meal.

Giardiniera is a combination of vegetables that we pickle in vinegar and oil.

This will soften up the greens and give them a sharp, salty aftertaste.

Typically, for this recipe we use:

  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Jalapenos
  • White wine vinegar
  • Olive oil

This condiment is customizable since you can use any ingredients in your pantry. 

Sadly, the pickling process may take a few days, but it’s well worth the wait.

14. Creamy Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno poppers are one of the world’s most popular side dishes for many reasons. 

First off, the creamy cheese perfectly balances out the spicy peppers.

Other than that, the fried breading adds a nice crispy crunch to the dish.

This will completely change the flavor profile of your meatball sub.

It’ll give it an extra punchy kick at the end of every bite.

To top it all off, these poppers are incredibly easy to make.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cream cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Bread crumbs

15. Bright Arugula Salad

Arugula on its own has a tart, almost acidic flavor profile.

It can also have a peppery, bitter aftertaste.

These are all flavors that will work well in a meatball sub.

Although, the green leaves can be a little overwhelming.

A quick solution is to make a simple, bright salad.

That dish includes:

  • Arugula
  • Cheese 
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper

This will cut through the spicy arugula and boost the overall flavor.

16. Crispy Caramelized Plantains

Crispy Caramelized Plantains dish

Plantains are fruits similar to bananas.

The main differences are that the former is larger and a bit tougher.

Plus, plantains tend to be less sweet and have a higher starch content.

That makes them ideal for frying.

They can handle plenty of heat and develop an almost caramel-like flavor.

So, this will add the sweetness and crunchiness that meatball subs desperately need.

17. Bacon Cheddar Egg Bites

In my opinion, you can eat meatball subs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Although, if you plan on eating the sandwich early in the morning, it’s best to add extra nutrients. 

There’s no better way to do that than bacon cheddar egg bites.

To make these, you’ll need:

  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Bacon
  • Eggs

You can also add all sorts of spices and vegetables based on your preferences. 

That way, you ensure you have plenty of energy for the rest of your day.

The Best Meatball Sub Toppings: Choosing the Ideal Bread

Traditionally, we use Italian loaves to make meatball subs.

However, there are plenty of other bread options you can choose from. 

For example: 

  • Baguettes
  • Sourdough bread
  • Rye bread

Just make sure you pick a sturdy loaf that can soak up plenty of sauce.

Wrapping Up

There are hundreds of options when it comes to choosing BBQ meatball sub toppings. Some of these include:

  • Salads
  • Vinaigrettes
  • Sauces

Now that you have plenty of possibilities, it’s time to put on your apron and head to the kitchen.

meatball sub toppings hdr

17 Best Meatball Sub Toppings

Topping ideas and recipes for meatball sub sandwiches


  • Herbal Garlic Butter
  • Roasted Fennel
  • Mexican Salad
  • Spicy Chorizo
  • Sweet Caramelized Onions
  • Tangy Pineapple
  • Mushroom Sauce
  • Zesty Basil Vinaigrette
  • Fresh Coleslaw
  • Simple Pizza Sauce
  • Effortless Ham and Mayo
  • Crunchy Tortilla Chips
  • Sharp Giardiniera
  • Creamy Jalapeno Poppers
  • Arugula Salad
  • Crispy Caramelized Plantains
  • Bacon Cheddar Egg Bites


  • Choose your desired meatball sub sandwich topping recipe.
  • Gather and organize needed ingredients.
  • Create tasty meatball sub sandwich toppings and enjoy your sub sandwich!

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