Smoked Meatball Sandwiches are made with the most indulgent smoked meatballs (which are also great served alone)! Top this meatball sandwich with smoked marinara sauce and melty cheese for an amazing dinner.
Smoked Meatball Recipe Inspiration
Let me tell you about my neighbor, Josh. He makes the meanest, biggest, baddest meatballs ever. When smoked, they are off the hook with flavor, moisture, and texture.
We learned this last summer when he’d bring them over to cook on our smoker. See, when we fire up The Beast we often invite neighbors to bring over stuff to cook to maximize the real estate potential of over 3,000 square inch smoker. The Beast is huge, so there’s plenty of room to cook whatever we had planned, plus tons more.
The first time Josh brought over these meatballs we were blown away. First of all, they are huge! He said the inspiration came from wanting to make smoked meatloaf, but his wife said that idea sounded disgusting. So instead he made monstrotious meatballs to fill his meatloaf craving, thinking it would be pretty much the same exact thing. He would use the same recipe, just form them into the size of a baseball instead of loading into a loaf pan.
Josh, for the record, I still think the meatloaf idea sounds delish!
Lucky us, Josh was kind enough to share his Smoked Meatball recipe:
Josh’s recipe, exactly as he wrote it. We took the liberty of describing how one would go about steps 1 and 2 should they not speak Josh’s cooking lingo.
How to Make Smoked Meatballs for Meatball Sandwiches
We decided to tweak Josh’s original meatball recipe a bit since we were planning to make them much smaller with the intention of using them for meatball sandwiches topped with our homemade smoked marinara sauce.
Ours are about a third the size of Josh’s regular meatballs.
Start by mixing together half ground pork (hot Italian sausage is amazing) and half beef, we like this combo for our meatball sandwich instead of 100% beef like the original recipe. Then add a bacon paste, (which adds the binding the original amount of eggs would have provided). Next mix in the dense bread that has been crumbed, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. Lightly mix the meatball ingredients and form into 2 inch balls.
Place the meatballs on a 250 degree smoker until they reach 165 degrees internal temp.
Oh. My. Meatball.
Now simmer the smoked meatballs in your smoked marinara for a few minutes. Then place them on your favorite sub roll, top with additional smoky marinara, and melt some mozzarella cheese over top under the broiler for a few minutes.
These sandwiches were out of control.
Juicy, tender, smoked meatballs surrounded by a rich smoked marinara sauce and topped with gooey melted mozzarella. I can’t even.
All I can say is please make these sandwiches and you’ll understand my enthusiasm the moment they touch your lips.
And thanks Josh, for sharing the secret to your meatballs.
Smoked Meatball Sandwiches
For the meatballs
- 3 pieces of bacon
- 1 lb ground beef 80/20 lean
- 1 lb ground pork hot Italian sausage
- 2 eggs
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 1/2 cups dense bread shredded into crumbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
For the sandwich
- 1 Bahn Mi roll or your favorite sub roll
- ¼ cup marinara sauce (we use smoked marinara, see notes)
- 3-4 smoked meatballs
- ¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded
For the meatballs
- Preheat smoker to 250 degrees
- In a food processor add the bacon and pulse a few times, until the bacon turns into a paste.
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well. Roll into two inch balls.
- Place on smoker until internal temperature reads 165 degrees on a thermometer.
For the Smoked Meatball Sandwich
- Turn oven broiler on to high heat.
- Bring your marinara sauce in a medium saucepan to a simmer. Gently add the meatballs to the sauce. Load up your bun with the sauce and four meatballs. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler for 2-4 minutes, until the cheese melts and bread starts to get toasty. Remove, dive in and enjoy!
*For the Smoked Marinara Sauce.
Wine Pairing for Smoked Meatball Sandwiches
I was looking for a wine that had bold enough flavors to stand up to the smoky meat, but also acidity to stand up to the smoked tomatoes from the marinara sauce. Several could easily work with this dish. You can stick with Italian reds, which are a go-to with meatballs and marinara sauce, like Barbera, Chianti, Nero d’Avola, and Nebbiolo to name a few.
But since this was our Pacific NW smoky twist on a classic sub I wanted a wine from here. I wanted to make sure it was a wine with a good combination of fruit, some richness, and gusto, but also the acidity to stand up to the sauce. In Oregon we hardly have a problem with great acid in our wines, so I went with a Tempranillo from Rapter Ridge Winery.
This wine had a nice amount of richness to balance the indulgent sandwiches, but also provided the acidity we were hoping for to stand up to the sauce and rich melted cheese. A nice and balanced example of Tempranilo with some vibrant fresh flavors, rather than some intense, heavily oaked, overly fruity, or über rich versions.
Now who’s ready for a smoked meatball sub!?
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