Smoked Meatball Sandwiches

5 from 4 votes
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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 Sandwiches

Recipe Inspiration

Let me tell you about our former neighbor, Josh. He makes the meanest, biggest, baddest meatballs ever. When smoked, they are off the hook with flavor, moisture, and texture.

Neighbor Josh's Smoked Meatballs

Lucky us, Josh was kind enough to share his Smoked Meatball recipe with us for the blog. We’ve had to alter it just a bit to make it more conducive to fitting into a sandwich. Ours are about a third the size of Josh’s regular meatballs. But it’s a close honor to his famous meatballs.

How to Make Smoked Meatballs for the Best Meatball Sandwiches

  • 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 temperature.
  • Next, 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.
Smoked Meatball Sub topped with smoked marinara and cheese

These sandwiches are 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 Sandwich Recipe

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5 from 4 votes

Smoked Meatball Sandwiches

Smoked meatball sandwiches, made with a combination of beef and pork and bacon paste to bind it. Smoked to perfection and served with a smoked marinara sauce.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 24 meatballs


For the meatballs

  • 3 pieces of bacon
  • 1 lb ground beef, We love Snake River Farms Ground Beef
  • 1 lb ground pork, We use Snake River Farms Kurobuta Pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups dense bread, shredded into crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

For 1 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, shredded


For the Smoked Meatballs

  • Preheat smoker to 250 degrees F, using fruit wood.
  • In a food processor add the bacon and pulse a few times, until the bacon turns into a paste.
  • In a large bowl combine the bacon and the remainder of the meatball ingredients and mix well. Roll into 2-inch balls.
  • Place the meatballs directly on the smoker until internal temperature reads 165 degrees using a digital thermometer.

For the Smoked Meatball Sandwich

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer. Gently add the meatballs to the sauce to warm up.
  • Turn oven broiler on to high heat.
  • Load up your bun with the sauce and 3-4 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!


If you want to make them like Josh, roll them into balls the size of a baseball and cook until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. This can take an additional hour. They will take longer to cook due to their size.

*For the Smoked Marinara Sauce. 

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Servings: 24 meatballs
Keyword: meatball sub, smoked marinara, smoked meatball sandwich, smoked meatball sandwiches, smoked meatballs
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

Wine Pairing for Meatball Sandwiches

I like 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.

Smoked Meatball Sandwich and Wine Pairing

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 local Tempranillo.

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.

If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes. 

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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. I’m assuming you mean for the bread crumbs? Honestly it’s not necessary for this recipe. We just call for dense bread. No need to toast it. Just add chunks of the bread to the processor and blend with the rest of the ingredients for the meatballs.

    1. Sourdough works awesome for this one and our favorite, but any large dense bread will help with the meatball consistency. I would avoid a baguette, too much crust for meatballs.

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been playing around with meatball recipes for years trying to duplicate a childhood favorite from a seasoned Italian pizza and sandwich shop in Fullerton, Calif (Giovanni’s) Made these last week with some bacon burger 25/75 from the local butcher super shop and OMG these are by far the best yet. Traegered most of the batch with Oak/ Hickory mix and saved enough mix to try browned in EVOO then marinara / pizza sauce mix, smoking is defiantly the way to go. Vindulge is my go to for new recipes!

    1. Terry that is awesome to hear and thanks for the comment. Love the mix ratio you used, I bet that flavor was insanely good.

  2. I really, really wish I had a smoker. I’ve been drooling over this recipe since you first shared the link for the contest! Do you have any recs for a smoker that would run a couple hundred bucks or less?

    1. Marissa, absolutely. There are many options to select from and depends on cooking style. The best place to look for a budget is the Weber Smokey Mountain. It’s a “bullet” smoker and looks a little like R2D2. The 14 inch (diameter) is great for chicken, racks of ribs, small cuts of pork butt and brisket. You should be able to amazon it for less than $200.00. Also there are bigger versions for 100.00 more. You use charcoal for heat and wood chunks or chips for the smoke, easy technique to learn after a few try’s.

      If you have a little more cash then consider a pellet smoker like a Traeger or Yoder. Instead of coal and wood, you feed your fire using hardwood pellets, it’s great and the technique is the same. There are many pellet smokers out there in the market, if you see one let us know and we’ll let you know our opinion 😉

      Lastly, DO NOT consider the walmart or home depot char broils. The metal is thin, it will rust out in a year and not worth the money (they are cheaper). I would spend the extra 100 on the Weber.

      1. This is awesome; thanks so much! I’ll look into the Weber one and save the upgrade for a little later down the line. Funemployment, ftw! I’m glad I asked because I was debating on checking out the char broils because of the price. I’ll forget about that option. 🙂 Thanks, Mary!