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Game day food doesn’t get better than these easy Crockpot BBQ Meatball Subs! The meatballs are tender and flavorful, smothered in bbq sauce and topped with melted cheese for a meal that may just make you forget about the game!

Meatball subs on a baking sheet

**This recipe was originally published in February 2016. The photos have been updated, and the text has been modified to include more recipe information and step by step instructions.

I use my slow cooker year round, but this time of year it goes into overdrive. It doesn’t get easier than dump and go slow cooker recipes does it?

My avgolemono soup is wonderful to cozy up to on a cold day, and crockpot chicken and rice is so great for those hectic weeknights.

These Crockpot BBQ Meatball Subs are great for meal prep Sunday and happen to be the perfect game day food too!

They’re a win any way you look at them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Meatball subs on cutting board with fresh parsley

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • These meatball subs include tender, flavorful meatballs, tangy, sweet bbq sauce, crusty bread and melty cheese for a meal that the whole family will love.
  • The meatballs don’t require browning…just dump them in the crockpot and cook with the barbecue sauce!
  • This meal is great for meal prep and game day celebrations.

Recipe ingredients

This meatball sub recipe includes ingredients for the meatballs, as well as a few pantry staples to prepare your own bbq sauce. Of course you can opt to use your favorite brand of store bought barbecue sauce to make life easier.

The ingredients for both may be swapped out using what you have on hand as outlined below in the ingredient notes.

Crockpot bbq meatball subs recipe ingredients

Ingredient notes

  • Ground turkey. I love using lean ground turkey for these meatballs for it’s flavor, but it may be subbed with your favorite ground meat.
  • Milk. Use your favorite dairy or non dairy milk.
  • Breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are essential to adding moisture to the meatballs. I prefer to use panko, but your favorite brand will work. If you’re following a gluten-free or grain free diet, sub them with gluten-free breadcrumbs, quick oats or even almond flour.
  • Egg. The egg acts as a binder to hold all the ingredients together. It should not be omitted or your meatballs will fall apart.
  • Honey. The honey may be substituted with your favorite sweetener.
  • Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has a sweet, tangy flavor that’s great in barbecue sauce, but it may be substituted with white vinegar or white balsamic.
  • Worcestershire sauce. This adds a wonderful depth of savory flavor to the sauce. Good substitutions include soy sauce, liquid aminos or tamari.

How to make crockpot bbq meatballs

The meatballs are an easy dump and go slow cooker recipe. They’re similar to my baked turkey meatballs in that the meatballs don’t require browning…simply roll the mixture into balls and they cook right up in the sauce!

This meatball sub recipe includes a couple of components and a bit of prep, but nothing is terribly time consuming.

Pro tip: Prepare the bbq sauce and roll the meatballs in advance to make this recipe go even more quickly.

Make the bbq sauce:

How to make bbq sauce for meatball subs
  • Place all bbq sauce ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk well to to combine.

Prepare the meatballs:

How to make crockpot bbq meatballs
  1. Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the ground turkey, grated onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gently combine with your hands, being careful not to overwork the meat.
  2. Form the meat into 1 1/2″ meatballs and place in the slow cooker.
  3. Pour the barbecue sauce over the meatballs, reserving about 1 cup for serving if desired.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours or high heat for 2-3 hours or until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center or when a thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees.

How to make meatball subs

Once the meatballs are done, it’s time to assemble the subs! Simply preheat the broiler and grab a baking sheet.

How to make meatball subs collage
  1. Place the sub rolls on a baking sheet and fill with meatballs. Top the meatballs with the desired amount of sauce and grated cheese.
  2. Broil until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasty. Serve with additional bbq sauce and enjoy!
Crockpot bbq meatball subs on a cutting board with bite out of one

FAQs

Why do you put milk in meatballs?

Milk adds moisture to meatballs. Without milk and breadcrumbs, you’ll end up with a dense meatball.

Do eggs make meatballs softer?

Eggs are not added to meatballs for moisture…they are essential to bind the ingredients together.

What to use instead of breadcrumbs in meatballs?

Day old bread may be used, as well as crushed saltine crackers. If you’re following a gluten-free diet, try gluten-free breadcrumbs, quick oats or almond flour.

What do you put on a meatball sub?

Meatball subs typically include sub rolls, meatballs, sauce and cheese. You can use homemade or even cooked frozen meatballs with plenty of marinara sauce or even bbq sauce. Top with provolone, mozzarella or your favorite cheese and bake or broil until melted, then add any additional toppings that you desire.

What do you eat with BBQ meatballs?

Crockpot bbq meatballs may be served as an appetizer, in meatball subs, or alongside mashed potatoes, polenta, potato salad or rice.

How to serve this recipe

This meatball sub recipe may be served up so many delicious ways.

I love serving them with classic coleslaw or broccoli slaw, or fresh salads such as my broccoli kale salad or spinach apple salad.

Some great veggie sides are corn on the cob, roasted green beans and baked zucchini chips.

And of course, these meatball subs are great with sweet potato fries and German potato salad as well!

Recipe notes

  • Pro tip: Prepare the bbq sauce and roll the meatballs in advance to make this recipe go even more quickly.
  • The barbecue sauce recipe may be substituted with your favorite store bought brand to save time.
  • The sauce thins as the meatballs cook in the slow cooker, but it does thicken back up as it cools once the meatballs are done. Reserving about 1 cup of the sauce is a good idea to have some nice, thick sauce ready for serving right away.
  • The nutrition information includes all of the sauce, but you probably won’t need all of it for serving.
Meatball sub with cheese pulling

Love barbecue sauce?  Try these recipes:

If you try this recipe I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and rating below, or tag me at @flavorthemoments on Instagram!

Meatball subs on a baking sheet

Crockpot BBQ Meatball Subs

Crockpot BBQ Meatball Subs are tender, flavorful meatballs with a sweet, tangy meatballs served in buns with melted cheese. It's an easy dump and go recipe that's great for game day or busy weeknights!
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Ingredients

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 32 ounces Hunt's Tomato Sauce
  • 6 tablespoons honey or sub with your favorite sweetener
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Hunt’s tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or sub with soy sauce, liquid aminos or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. lean ground turkey or sub with your favorite ground meat
  • 1 small yellow onion peeled, halved and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk your favorite dairy or non dairy milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt if using regular salt, use only 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the subs:

  • 6 sub sandwich rolls
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Instructions 

Prepare the sauce:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the tomato sauce, honey, vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire, garlic powder, onion, and salt and pepper to taste together until well combined. Set aside.

Prepare the meatballs:

  • Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  • Place the ground turkey, grated onion, garlic, bread crumbs, milk, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gently combine with your hands, being careful not to overwork the meat.
  • Form the meat into 1 1/2" meatballs and place in the slow cooker.
  • Pour the barbecue sauce over the meatballs, reserving about 1 cup for serving if desired.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours or high heat for 2-3 hours or until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center.

Prepare the subs:

  • Preheat the oven broiler. Split the sub rolls and fill with meatballs and place on a baking sheet.
  • Top with cheese, and broil until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasty. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • Pro tip: Prepare the bbq sauce and roll the meatballs in advance to make this recipe go even more quickly.
  • The barbecue sauce recipe may be substituted with your favorite store bought brand to save time.
  • The sauce thins as the meatballs cook in the slow cooker, but it does thicken back up as it cools once the meatballs are done. Reserving about 1 cup of the sauce is a good idea to have some nice, thick sauce ready for serving right away.
  • The nutrition information includes all of the sauce, but you probably won’t need all of it for serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sub, Calories: 636kcal, Carbohydrates: 66g, Protein: 43g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 165mg, Sodium: 2190mg, Potassium: 992mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 31g, Vitamin A: 1077IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 244mg, Iron: 15mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Tried this recipe?Mention @flavorthemoments or tag #flavorthemoments!

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