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Sides for Meatball Subs: 13 Options to Modernize a Classic

Sides for Meatball Subs: 13 Options to Modernize a Classic

Remember this song? “On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.”

I do!

Meatballs have long been popular on top of spaghetti, but they’re also fantastic in a submarine sandwich.

We love a filling Meatball Sub with its hearty Marinara sauce, a soft submarine roll, and if you’re lucky, a sprinkling of parmesan or some melted provolone.

The challenge?

Getting all those great tastes in one bite without the meatballs rolling out!


I like to make my meatballs in the Instant pot since it’s super-fast, but the slow cooker is good too, especially for slow simmering in the sauce.

Almost any method will work; they’re easy to make.

Meatballs can be made of beef, pork, chicken, or lamb.

They’re so versatile!

You can mix any of these meats as well to create the perfect meatball, and satisfy whatever you’re hungry for that day.

You want to make sure they hold together, so the bread crumbs and egg serve as a binder to keep them meatball-shaped.

Want to know what to eat with meatball subs?

There are so many casual get-togethers where meatball subs would be a perfect choice.

You might be serving them for a birthday party at home or poker night as mini sliders, but what do you serve with them?

What goes with meatball subs?

When you’re planning your next casual night in, get ready because we’ve got some great ideas for the perfect side dish for meatball subs.

Read on!

What Goes with Meatball Subs: Fresh and Crunchy Sides

Here are some delicious ideas you may not have considered!

1. Crunchy Kale Salad

This crunchy salad is no wimp.

It will stand up and hold it’s own, with sturdy chopped kale and shredded red cabbage, chopped apples, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds.

You can dress this and let it marinate in the honey-dijon dressing, adding the almonds right before serving.

These kinds of salads are fantastic make-ahead hacks for your busy day, making entertaining at home fun and stress-free.kale and quinoa

2. Italian Pasta Salad

You can’t eat all that delicious Marinara without a little pasta! I like pasta salads that are heavy on the veggies.

This recipe has cherry tomatoes, black olives, red onions, and piquillo peppers.

I’d add some marinated artichoke hearts, and maybe some kidney beans too.

I’m always thinking about how to load up the veggies into whatever I’m making; it’s a healthy and highly recommended practice!

italian pasta salad

A Spicy Perspective has plenty of dishes to suit almost any level of cook, check out their website!

3. Baked Jalapeno Poppers

These little cheese-filled hand grenades are so good!

They have some freshness from the peppers, but they’re also pretty rich, so you may want to adjust the cheese on the sandwich when serving these as a side dish idea for your meal.

Put on gloves before slicing and seeding the peppers!

You’ll regret it if you skip this step!

Use a small spoon to remove the seeds and membranes. That’s where the heat is, so remove them carefully.

A grapefruit spoon with a pointed tip will be ideal to use if you have one.

The best thing about these poppers is that they’re baked, not deep-fried, which is so much easier and healthier.

You don’t have to bread them either, just sprinkle some panko on the sliced and filled peppers, and you’re set for crunch.

Gotta love easy!

jalapeno poppers

4. Classic Caesar Salad

This classic salad never goes out of style, and the crunchy romaine, flavorful dressing, and crispy croutons have what it takes to share the plate alongside the meatball sub.

The fresh and crunchy brightness of this salad is the perfect counterpoint, and the lemon juice in the dressing packs a powerful punch.

You might want to go easy on the anchovies in the dressing, but otherwise, this is an inspired pairing.

caesar salad

The best Caesar Salad recipe I’ve found comes from the excellent blog at Natasha’s Kitchen.

5. Caesar Pasta Salad

This salad has everything you love about a classic caesar but has the addition of tomatoes, avocado, and fusilli pasta.

You can also try adding kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, or beans of your choice. Other exciting options might be pickled okra, pickled onions, or pepperoncini slices.

This salad gives you the best of both worlds, the freshness of the romaine, and the beautiful fusilli pasta coated in Caesar dressing, and then there’s the avocado!

You can’t go wrong!

pasta salad

6. Spicy Onion Rings

Don’t wait to have onion rings until you go out; they’re delicious and easy to make at home.

These are soaked in buttermilk for thirty minutes before cooking, so leave yourself enough time to spare.

These bring the flavor with cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder.

The crunch and the heat will spice up this plate and make you wonder why you didn’t try these sooner.

spicy onion rings side

7. Detox Salad

Ready for a healthy choice?

This superfood salad has it all.

It delivers lots of finely chopped crunchy cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, parsley, and carrots. Its garnished with raisins, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

The dressing is divine, too, with olive oil, fresh ginger, lemon juice, and honey.

What goes with meatball subs?

This delightful and healthy salad does.

detox salad as one of the best sides for meatball subs

8. Sweet and Tangy Broccoli Slaw

Here’s another excellent choice with lots of crunchy vegetables, but I’d modify this recipe slightly to make it more savory and less sweet by eliminating the sugar and dried cranberries.

Instead, I’d add some of those pickled pepperoncini that you can buy already sliced in jars.

I’d also use the vinegar they’re packed in to make the dressing.

These are just hot enough to add excitement without being overpowering.

This slaw would be a great side dish or even a fun topping for meatball subs.

broccoli slaw

Check out this delicious recipe and more at Bare Feet in the Kitchen.

9. Deep-fried Green Beans

These batter-fried green beans are such a great french fry alternative; I’m surprised people don’t make them more often.

Maybe not everyone is as obsessed with green veg as I am.

With this side:

I’d chop some oregano finely and incorporate it into the batter, giving this side an Italian twist.

Alternatively, you sprinkle fresh oregano onto the cooked beans and enjoy the aroma of Italy.

green beans

10. Caprese Salad

Here’s a cheery video from Natasha on how to make a simple, fresh Caprese salad, along with the salad recipe and instructions for the balsamic glaze.

Easy Caprese Salad Recipe with Balsamic Glaze

These are both very easy to make.

The one thing you can do to elevate this salad to greatness is to pick vine-ripened top-quality tomatoes.

There is nothing like a fresh, warm tomato right off the vine.

If you don’t have a summer veggie garden, spend the extra money on hothouse tomatoes for this salad. You’ll taste the difference, and it will be worth it.

One other thing you should try is freshly ground pink Himalayan salt. You will thank me later; it’s so much better than table salt; you won’t believe it.

11. Summer Panzanella

Here is another salad where getting perfectly ripe tomatoes is going to make a big difference.

I like to use a variety of tomato colors and shapes, yellow, red, and orange.

Get rustic sourdough or ciabatta and cut it into 1.5-inch cubes. Use the best quality olive oil that you can find.

This salad is about fresh tastes, and you want fresh, high-quality ingredients.

summer panzanella

12. Vegetarian Chopped Salad

There are a few ingredients that set this salad apart and elevate the flavors dramatically.

Radicchio is a bitter type of chicory that’s not commonly used but makes this salad special.

You’re not using a lot, just enough to make it exciting.

This salad uses fresh tomatoes, but also sun-dried tomatoes, giving you a depth of Italian flavors you’re sure to love.

Pepperoncini peppers brighten this salad with a little pickled pepper punch.


Chickpeas are a hearty and surprisingly meaty addition that will stick to your ribs while adding flavor, texture, and tons of healthy fiber.

chopped salad

This is another modern twist on a classic that you can find on the Cookie and Kate website. Add that to your bookmarks!

13. Home-made Potato Chips

Most people have never tried these at home, but once you do, I swear you’ll never be satisfied with opening a bag of chips ever again.

I’m ruining you.

You’re welcome.

You’re going to soak the sliced potatoes in salted ice water for 30 minutes before you begin cooking them.

It’s also crucial that the potatoes are drained and thoroughly dry after their saltwater bath.

Water and hot oil don’t mix, so get those spuds dry before frying!

Here’s a handy video with the charming Curtis Stone showing you how to use the mandoline without a trip to the emergency room.

How to make your own potato chips with Curtis Stone

Sides for Meatball Subs: Digging Deeper Into Deliciousness

Let’s talk about drinks!

Depending on who you’re serving, we’ve tried to give you some options that will work for everyone.

Beer would be a natural pairing with meatballs, and any lager would work well, but how about taking a look for local microbrews?

The craft brewing industry has taken off, and small microbreweries are popping up everywhere.

There are IPAs, Wheat beers, porters, ales, and stouts that would be excellent choices with the sandwich flavors.

Having a little beer tasting is always a fun idea when you have guests.

You can buy tiny red Solo cups so that everyone can have a taste of each one.

beer with meatball sub

If you prefer something a little sweeter, how about any of the hard ciders now available?

You could even include a couple of hard ciders at the end of your beer tasting flight, starting with the lightest beers, going to the heavier beers, and capping the flight off with a cider or two.

Why not?

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, you might want to try one of the many non-alcoholic beers available.

They’re outstanding and worth testing out to see what you think.

You can also try some infused waters.

pouring infused water

I don’t drink soda and don’t recommend it, but sometimes you want something fresh and different.

You can try different herbs, fruit, and vegetables in infused water.

Thinking about what goes with meatball subs,

I’d recommend going heavy on the herbs.

Try infusing oregano, thyme, rosemary, or basil. Cucumber makes an excellent base to infuse with these herbs, and it’s all about trying different combos to see what you like.

You also want to think about the timing and remove any herbs that may turn bitter or overpowering, so do some experimentation and see how long to leave them in.

You can strain the water, so you get the lovely herbal flavors, but not the herbs themselves.

Regular club soda with lime is always a refreshing option, as is tonic water.

Lemon, lime, or any citrus fruit would be a great squeeze-in addition, and I sometimes like to add prepared lime or lemon juice to taste.

I like my drinks sour, but you might appreciate a little sugar mixed in if this makes you pucker.

A fun idea is to get some crushed ice and a cocktail shaker and whip up some non-alcoholic cocktails using the lemon or lime juice.

Finish it with soda or tonic and garnish with the citrus fruits.

Wrapping it up…

We’ve thought about what goes with meatball subs, keeping those Mediterranean flavors in mind.

We’ve given you lots of choices of salads and greens, kale, romaine, cabbage, and broccoli.

We’ve also chosen a few naughty indulgences like onion rings, deep-fried green beans, jalapeno poppers, and home-made potato chips.

There’s no one perfect side dish for meatball subs, but it’s nice to have so many good choices!

If it’s fresh, crunchy, fried, creamy, spicy, or garlicky, we’ve got you covered. If you’re ever looking for side dishes for Swedish meatballs, we’ve got that too!

Your next get-together is sure to be a hit with any of these sides.

There’s a little something for everyone, and now you know what to eat with meatball subs!

Meatball Subs side recipes

What to Serve with Meatball Subs

Ideas and side dish recipes to eat with Meatball Subs
Course: Side Dish


  • Kale Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Jalapeno Poppers
  • Caesar Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Onion Rings
  • Detox Salad
  • Broccoli Slaw
  • Green Beans
  • Caprese Salad
  • Summer Panzanella
  • Vegetarian Salad
  • Potato Chips


  • Choose your desired Meatball Subs side dish recipe.
  • Gather and organize needed ingredients.
  • Create a tasty Meatball Subs side to complete your meal!

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