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RECIPESlow-Cooker Recipes

Slow-Cooker Italian Meatball Subs

4-6 hours Cook
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The art of Italian cuisine is a tapestry woven with rich flavors, hearty ingredients, and a deep passion for food. One dish that embodies these qualities and has made its mark across the globe is the Italian meatball sub. Today, we embark on a journey to create a mouthwatering masterpiece: Slow-Cooker Italian Meatball Subs. This recipe combines the convenience of a slow cooker with the traditional flavors of Italy to bring you a meal that’s both comforting and satisfying. Whether you’re hosting a game day get-together or simply craving a taste of Italy, these subs will transport your taste buds to the streets of Rome.

Historical Context

The concept of meatballs has roots dating back to ancient times, where different cultures crafted their own versions. However, the Italian meatball, or “polpette,” as it’s known in Italy, has earned worldwide fame. The Italian immigrants who settled in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries played a significant role in popularizing meatballs in America. These savory spheres of ground meat, typically a mix of beef, pork, and veal, have become a beloved staple in Italian-American cuisine.


Step 1: Prepare the Meatballs

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, milk, minced garlic, and egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Using your hands, gently mix the ingredients until well combined. Be careful not to overmix, as this can make the meatballs tough.
  3. Shape the mixture into meatballs, each about the size of a golf ball. You should have approximately 16 meatballs.

Step 2: Brown the Meatballs 4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil.

  1. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs to the skillet in batches, ensuring they have space to brown evenly. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side or until they develop a golden-brown crust. This step adds flavor and seals in the juices.

Step 3: Slow Cook the Meatballs 6. Transfer the browned meatballs to your slow cooker.

  1. Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs, ensuring they are evenly coated.
  2. Cover the slow cooker and set it to low heat. Allow the meatballs to simmer in the sauce for 4-6 hours. This slow cooking process infuses the meatballs with the rich flavors of the sauce.

Step 4: Assemble the Subs 9. Preheat your oven’s broiler.

  1. Slice the hoagie rolls in half lengthwise and place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Sprinkle each roll with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  3. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Step 5: Serve and Garnish 13. Carefully remove the slow-cooked meatballs from the sauce in the slow cooker and place them in the prepared hoagie rolls.

  1. Spoon some additional marinara sauce over the meatballs.
  2. Garnish each sub with fresh basil leaves for a burst of color and flavor.


The Slow-Cooker Italian Meatball Subs are a celebration of Italian-American cuisine, offering convenience without compromising on flavor. With each bite, you’ll experience the heritage and tradition that has made Italian meatballs a beloved classic. Whether you’re cooking for family, friends, or simply indulging in a solo feast, these subs are sure to become a cherished addition to your culinary repertoire. Buon appetito!

prep time
20 minutes.
cooking time
4-6 hours
4 servings
total time
4 hours and 20 minutes.


  • Slow cooker

  • Large mixing bowl

  • Wooden spoon

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Baking sheet

  • Aluminum foil

  • Grater

  • Serving platter


  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

  • 1/2 pound ground veal

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 egg

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce

  • 4 hoagie rolls

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish


Prepare the meatballs.
Sear the meatballs.
Make the tomato sauce.
Assemble the subs.
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