While meatballs in their many forms are enjoyed all around the world, the meatball sub is a hearty and delicious Italian American invention.
Juicy meatballs that vary from small to fist-sized, are sandwiched inside a flaky Italian roll and then smothered with mama’s best tomato sauce to create this masterpiece.
If you’re in the mood for a meatball sub and want to know what your best options are for serving this quintessential comfort food, keep reading.
17 Side Dishes to Serve With Meatball Subs
Meatballs can be served in many ways. The meatball sub, however, is a wonderful treat for anyone who is looking to get their meatball fixin’ on the go. Pair it with the sides below and you’ll have a truly satisfying meal.
Easy to make with a creamy, crunchy punch, coleslaw as a side gives a meatball meal the vegetables its missing. The combination of cabbage and mayo usually reserved for ribs and hamburgers also goes exceptionally well with meatball subs.
Coleslaw is a great addition to a Sunday brunch, picnic, or BBQ.
2. Macaroni Salad
Macaroni salad as with other pasta salads seems like a natural side dish to complement a meatball sub. Pasta and meatballs, what could go wrong?
Macaroni salad is made with mayonnaise and diced celery, carrots, and onions, but if you are hankering for something on the lighter side, try a pasta salad with onion, diced peppers, and olives tossed in extra virgin olive oil.
It may sound a bit boring as a side but celery is a great snack that helps you digest and cleanse your palate. You may also be surprised to know that many Italian sauces use celery as an ingredient.
To balance out the flavor in your meal, try a side of celery with your Italian sub.
4. Potato Salad
Picnics and BBQs alike are a great way to showcase your meatball sub. And if you weren’t sure, well potatoes in any shape, size, and cooking style are favorable with the meaty sandwich.
A classic potato salad is always a welcome addition to any meal. Grab your favorite store-bought brand or make some yourself.
5. Jalapeno Poppers
Jalapeno poppers are a crowd favorite. The breaded jalapenos kick everything up a notch and your meatball sub is no exception.
Battered and fried jalapeno poppers are sinful and delicious but if you’ll like a healthier option, try baking them in the oven. Stuffed jalapenos have also become popular so grab a recipe and treat yourself to some cream cheese or bacon-wrapped peppers.
6. Classic Caesar Salad
We love the classics because they’re tried and proven to be delicious. A classic Ceasar salad beats the competition in that its creamy rich dressing and crunchy romaine sections add that missing texture to your meatball sub meal.
If you’ve never tried a classic Ceasar, you should. It’s decked with anchovies and parmesan and is absolutely amazing.
7. Caprese Salad
A Caprese salad is not only elegant when served at mealtime, it’s actually one of the easiest side dishes to prepare.
Grab a nice hearty tomato and a ball of mozzarella cheese. Slice these evenly and place them on a plate topped with fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and voila!
8. Kale Salad
Kale seems to be the go too green nowadays. It’s been fried, battered, blended, and boiled but our favorite way to serve this popular vegetable is as a salad.
Make is a crunchy salad by adding cranberries and chopped pecans to your kale. Top this with a honey-dijon mustard dressing. A fantastic starter or finisher for your meatball sub meal.
If you picture your meatball sub on the go, look no further than a bag of chips to go with it.
Honestly simple and perfect as a pairing, chips of all varieties complement your warm meatball sub. Try classic chips or pita chips. If you’d like something fancier, try Terra chips made from colorful root vegetables.
10. Mozzarella Cheese
While you may enjoy your sandwich with just the meatballs and bread, a classic Italian meatball sub is made with a mouther-watering tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.
After cooking and assembling your meatball sub, sprinkle on as much cheese as you’d like and throw the whole thing into the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese is nice and melty.
Peppers, peppers, peppers. Some people love them, some people detest them. Either way, they’re a great addition to your meatball sub.
Serve some on the side if you’re not sure but the Italian meatballs and their blend of spices go seriously well with peppers. Try grilled peppers or pickled hot peppers if you like it spicy!
Grilled onions are a staple for me when enjoying BBQ foods. They taste great with ribs, on burgers, in salads, and on your meatball sub!
Grill a whole onion on the BBQ for a smokey flavor or just toss them into the skillet and fry until soft. If you love onions, diced them up and try them raw on your meatball sub.
For veggies lovers, having a sandwich without vegetables seems wrong but if you’re not sure about adding greens to your meatball sub, you might want to start with some spinach.
The pairing of spinach with meatballs simply works. By first lightly cooking the spinach in olive oil with some garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt, you’ll get your fill of vitamins and iron all wrapped up in your meatball sub.
It may seem odd to mention sweets with a meatball sub but serving a light dessert with your meatball sub is the perfect way to finish off your meal. Lucky for you chocolate is the perfect sweet treat!
Whether you prefer a bonbon, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, or a nice dark hunk of chocolate, the bittersweet cocoa gives your meatball sub meal that finishing touch.
Fruits are always good at the end of a meal. They help you digest and give you that little added sweetness that you need to make a meal feel complete.
Fruits packed with fiber-like watermelons, mangoes, pears, and apples are a great way to enjoy a guilt-free dessert after that hearty sub. Why not make a fruit salad and have them all!
16. Italian Cookies
When I think of meatball subs, I’m instantly transported to Little Italy in New York City. That being said, I can’t imagine not hitting up an Italian-style bakery after having one.
These creamy soft butter cookies have an almond essence and are usually filled with some form of raspberry or apricot jam. Then they’re sprinkled with jimmies or dipped in chocolate. If you’ve never had one, you’re missing out.
17. Detox Smoothie
This might sound a little too ‘woke’ for some but remember a meatball sub is a hearty meal that’s going to keep you full all day. With that in mind, you might want to even things out and give a good detox smoothie a try.
If a detox smoothie sounds a bit weird, think again because you can do a healthy and nutritious smoothie with simple ingredients like pineapple chunks, green apple, lime juice, bananas, and a bit of spinach.
Whether you need a little pick-me-up or are looking to make a meal out of a meatball sub, your choices are plenty.
Head out to your favorite sandwich shop and make your sub into a delightful meal with some homemade sides, or, hit up your local Italian supermarket and stock up on sides. Either way, you and your guests are in for a treat.