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Easy Italian Crockpot Meatball Subs

These easy crockpot meatball subs are a hearty weeknight meal idea, made simple thanks to your slow cooker! Uses frozen meatballs in a chunky homemade marinara sauce, topped off with ooey-gooey melted mozzarella cheese…

crockpot meatball subs with ooey-gooey melted mozzarella cheese lined up on a baking sheet

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cooked Perfect Meatballs. All opinions are 100% mine.

Easy Crockpot Meatball Subs

TLDR: scroll to the recipe to make these crockpot meatball subs for dinner tonight!! You won’t be sorry — these meatball subs with frozen meatballs are SO easy to prepare, totally delicious, and your kids will love you forever and ever, AMEN.

But for those of you that enjoy the backstory behind a recipe or are just genuinely curious what it’s like to feed a family of 7 on a daily basis, read on. :)

Once upon a time (about 15-and-a-half years ago), I had a little boy. And then, surprise! Exactly one year and two weeks later, I had another little boy. Not quite Irish Twins, but they were in every sense. They’ve shared a room from day one, shared the same toys, and made more than their fair share of mischief together. Someday I’ll have to share the Great 5am Cereal Incident, LOL…

From the ages of one and two, they’ve even shared a wardrobe and worn the same shoe size — until suddenly they can’t. Within the span of six months, the younger of the two has shot up five inches, gained 50 pounds, and increased two-and-a-half shoe sizes.

Just 14 years old, he’s off the charts at 5’11” and 205 pounds. So naturally he joined the high school football team, even though he hasn’t played since 3rd grade.


homemade meatball subs with chunky marinara sauce topped with melted mozzarella cheese on a baking sheet

Homemade Meatball Subs For The Win

After the two boys, (surprise again!) we quickly had two more girls AND another boy… Having five kids in less than six years means I’ve been the recipient of a great deal of unsolicited advice over the years.

I’ve been stopped by well-meaning older moms more times than I can count. Some I’ve taken with a grain of salt, others I’ve taken to heart: “Enjoy these days, it all goes so fast!” It does. A gentle mid-tantrum reminder: “He’ll grow out of it!” He did. “Oh, you’re having a girl? They’re SO different from boys!” They are.

And then from the moms of teenage boys: “Get ready for them to eat you out of house and home…” THIS. Hearing about it simply does NOT do it justice. They will sit down and inhale ALL of last night’s leftovers, and then make an enormous bowl of cereal with milk. A large pepperoni pizza? No match. Where’s that warehouse club size bag of tortilla chips I just opened? GONE.

My overgrown man-child will down two of these ginormous slow cooker meatball subs and say, “Thanks, Mom — that was great! What else are we having?” Sigh…

Luckily I’ve learned to always prepare more than I think we’ll need for a meal, because one thing is certain — it WON’T go to waste.

frozen meatballs in crockpot with Cooked Perfect Italian meatballs

Frozen Meatballs In Crockpot

As you can imagine, I’m all about recipes that are easy to double. And these crockpot Italian meatballs are the perfect candidate for doubling. Plus this recipe, in particular, is super simple to make — thanks to my trusty slow cooker and Cooked Perfect Meatballs. You can find them in the freezer case at your local grocery store in several different varieties and sizes.

Wait, you can make frozen meatballs in a crockpot?! YES, and it’s a total game changer. We’ve tried the Italian, the Homestyle, and the Turkey, and they’re ALL delicious. Cooked Perfect frozen meatballs made in the slow cooker are one of my secret weapons for getting a hearty meal on the table fast on busy weeknights! Only I guess it’s not a secret anymore…

slow cooker meatballs with a homemade chunky marinara sauce in a crockpot

How To Make Slow Cooker Meatballs

While the frozen Italian meatballs are the key to this easy weeknight crockpot meatball recipe, the super simple dump-and-go chunky homemade marinara sauce is what really takes it over the top.

We’re talking just a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of chopped onions, a little garlic (of course!), and some seasonings!

It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m telling you that after simmering all day with the meatballs, it’s TOTALLY. FREAKING. AMAZING.

How Long To Cook Frozen Meatballs In Crockpot?

The beauty of this frozen meatball crockpot recipe is that it’s virtually impossible to overcook the meatballs. The marinara sauce will keep them juicy and tender until you’re ready to serve them, so you can start the recipe in the morning and they’ll be ready to serve come dinnertime.

However, if you want a more exact timeframe, cook the frozen meatballs for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low, until the sauce is bubbling and the meatballs are heated through.

easy meatball subs topped with melted mozzarella cheese on a baking sheet

Easy Meatball Subs

These easy meatball subs are the stuff that teenage boys’ dreams are made of (well, the PG ones at least LOL)… I used the Cooked Perfect “hearty size” Italian-style meatballs cooked low and slow in a homemade chunky marinara sauce for these slow cooker meatball subs — and they are indeed hearty. One sub was more than enough for me!

That didn’t stop my older boys from having two each, plus a few extra meatballs. Even my youngest son (who takes after my middle in height but definitely not weight) tucked away an entire Italian meatball sub. #momwin

Larger families or families with growing boys will probably want to double the recipe below. Or you can stretch a single batch further by using a bag of the regular size Italian meatballs, instead of the hearty size.

And for ease in serving, you can skip the broiler step and just sprinkle the subs with Parmesan cheese. But if you have the extra time, I highly recommend the addition of some ooey-gooey melted mozzarella cheese on top!


crockpot Italian meatballs recipe topped with melted mozzarella cheese and chopped fresh parsley on a baking sheet

Easy Italian Crockpot Meatball Subs

Yield: 4 subs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

These easy crockpot meatball subs are a hearty weeknight meal idea, made simple thanks to your slow cooker! Uses frozen meatballs in a chunky homemade marinara sauce, topped off with ooey-gooey melted mozzarella cheese...



  1. Add the olive oil, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, water, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and sugar to a 5-qt.+ slow cooker insert. Stir well.
  2. Nestle the frozen meatballs in the sauce and cover.
  3. Cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low, until the sauce is bubbling and the meatballs are heated through.
  4. Add desired number of meatballs to the sub rolls and top with Parmesan cheese. Alternatively, you can also top them with shredded mozzarella cheese. Then place them on a baking sheet under the broiler on high for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.


*Italian Seasoning
This meatball subs recipe has been tested with my go-to brand of Italian seasoning. It is a coarser mix then most other Italian seasonings. If you use a brand that is more finely ground or powder-like, you may want to start with less than the recipe calls for and add more as needed.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 sub
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 914Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 174mgSodium: 1687mgCarbohydrates: 72gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 55g

Have you tried this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag it @unsophisticook and hashtag it #unsophisticook!

crockpot meatball recipe in sub sandwich rolls topped with melted mozzarella cheese and chopped fresh parsley

If you like this crockpot meatball recipe, you might also enjoy these other delicious meatball recipes:

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @unsophisticook on Instagram and hashtag it #unsophisticook.


Saturday 6th of August 2022

Hi Tara, Can this recipe be made with meatballs that were frozen raw? If so, does the cook time need to be adjusted?

Tara Kuczykowski

Sunday 7th of August 2022

Hi Terri! Yes, you can use frozen uncooked meatballs in this recipe. However, you'll want to increase the cook time to 8-10 hours on low if cooking from frozen. If you thaw them first, you can cook them for 6-8 hours. And easy way to be sure they're cooked through is to use a digital thermometer to make sure they're 165 degrees in the center.


Thursday 28th of April 2022

Made this tonight it was delicious .

Tara Kuczykowski

Friday 29th of April 2022

So glad you enjoyed it, Sharon!


Friday 8th of June 2018

Hey!! I really want to try this recipe but didn't get home in time to use the crockpot. Any way to do this quick in like 2 hours? Maybe just on stove?


Thursday 24th of February 2022

@Anna, I just made this recipe in the crockpot with frozen meatballs and it was ready in less than 4 hours on high. I tasted it first around two hours and think I could have eaten it then but wasn’t ready to serve yet so I left it for 3.

Tara @ Unsophisticook

Friday 8th of June 2018

Hi Anna! I think I'd bake the meatballs in the oven according to the instructions on the package. While they're cooking, make the sauce on the stovetop and allow it to simmer until it thickens up. Hope it's just as tasty -- this sounds so good tonight!


Saturday 30th of September 2017

When my college kid comes home, he reminds me that he's always hungry when I see the pile of food on his plate! He and his brother (and father) would be thrilled with these meatball subs. And I'd be thrilled with how easy they come together!!!

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