Barbecue Meatball Subs – Texas-style Meatball Sub

This smoky barbecue sub puts a new twist on the classic meatball sub.

It’s saucy. It’s cheesy. It’s sexy in a “this is how we do subs in Texas” kind of way. But above all, this barbecue-flavored meatball sub is crave-able.

Warning: Once you taste this, you may never want the boring Italian-style sub again.

I made this recipe using ingredients I had on hand, but if you don’t stock the same ingredients I do, consider these substitutions:

  • Instead of ground chuck and sirloin, use a pound of ground beef.
  • If you only have instant oats on hand, omit the egg-soaking step.
  • It doesn’t take long to make your own BBQ sauce, but you can use bottled sauce if you want.

Barbecue Meatball Subs Recipe

Serves 2

Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: About an hour | Rest time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes


For the meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Canola or vegetable oil

For the Texas barbecue sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 scant cup grated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Tabasco (optional)

For the sandwiches

  • 2 (6 inch) french or hoagie rolls (or similar)
  • 3 slices medium cheddar cheese, cut into triangles, 4 triangles each
  • BBQ toppings (sliced red onions, pickled onions, banana peppers or peperoncinis, pickled jalapeños, dill pickles, etc.)


For the meatballs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the ground chuck, ground sirloin, oats, onion, garlic powder and salt until just mixed. Do not overmix.
  3. Line a baking sheet or 2 or 3 plates lined with parchment paper (you’ll put these in the freezer, so whichever your freezer will take). Roll the meat into 6 balls of equal size and place them on the parchment paper. Place the meatballs in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill. You don’t want them to freeze, just to chill and set.
  4. In a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, bring 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil to temperature. Put the meatballs in batches about 2 inches apart in the skillet and sear them on all sides (about 5 minutes). You’re not cooking them, here, just searing, so pull them out and drain them on a paper towel-lined plate as soon as they’re browned.
  5. Move all the meatballs to a lightly greased baking dish and pour about 2/3 of the Texas barbecue sauce (directions below) over them. Put them in the oven and cook them for 30 to 45 minutes — just until they’re no longer pink in the center.

For the Texas barbecue sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, onion, liquid smoke and garlic powder. If desired, add Tabasco to taste (go light on it at first; you can always add more).
  2. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it has thickened slightly.

For the sandwiches

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Split the french rolls or hoagies down the middle lengthwise or split them down the top, being careful not to cut the bun completely in half. You need at least 1/2 inch of uncut bread to make the sandwich less messy to eat. (Note that I said less messy, not un-messy).
  3. Place them split-side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and place them in the oven until just lightly toasted. Remove them from the oven and put 3 meatballs on each bun, then place the triangles of cheese slices (6 each) between the meatballs and the bread (your fingers will get messy during this process). Place them back in the oven to melt the cheese. When the cheese is just melted, pull them from the oven and top with additional sauce and your BBQ toppings as desired.

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