You’ll love this vegan meatball sub sandwich recipe, featuring a simple marinara sauce over savory, garlicky lentil meatballs. The sauce is smothered with vegan mozzarella and served on toasted hoagie buns.
I get a lot of questions about veganism. The most popular question of course is, “Where do you get your protein?” It really is a ridiculous question when you think about it. Herbivores are some of the biggest mammals on the planet, and what do they eat? Plants!
One of my favorite sources of plant-based protein? Why, this vegan meatball sub sandwich, of course! Lentils are loaded with protein and so are just every plant-based meatball on the market (see more on vegan meatball options below).
It helps that these sandwiches are loaded with comfort food flavor. See my tips below on freezing them for quick and easy weeknight meals!
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Vegan Meatballs — I love using a batch of vegan lentil meatballs. You can substitute storebought vegan meatballs.
- Marinara — You’ll need 3 cups of vegan marinara sauce.
- Hoagie buns — Check the label to make sure they’re vegan. If you prefer to toast the buns, drizzle some olive oil or vegan butter over the buns.
- Vegan mozzarella shreds — Our favorite brands are Daiya or Follow Your Heart, but there are plenty to choose from these days.
How to Make Vegan Meatball Subs
- Make vegan meatballs (or heat up storebought).
- Place 4 meatballs on each bun.
- Drizzle marinara sauce on top of the meatballs.
- Top each sandwich with equal amounts of vegan mozzarella.
- Place the sandwiches on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Toast the sandwiches until the cheese has melted and is golden brown around the edges.
- Serve with marinara sauce for dipping or drizzling on top.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Freezer Friendly. Make up a double batch of sandwiches and freeze them for quick meals throughout the week!
- Lentils are Inexpensive. You can buy a bag of lentils for around a dollar. A bag of lentils can make a lot of meals.
- Easy Peasy. Lentils are legumes, but unlike other plants in this family, they don’t require pre-soaking. Most lentils cook up nicely within 20 to 25 minutes.
- Protein Punch. Lentils have the third-highest protein content of plant-based foods. And unlike meat, lentils don’t include any of the things you don’t want, like saturated animal fats and cholesterol. Yes, the lentil is only giving you good things for your body like fiber, folate, Vitamin B1, and iron.
- Umami. The vegan worcestershire sauce in the meatballs adds complexity for your taste buds by touching on the fifth flavor, umami. That’s thanks to the vinegar used to make it. I’m addicted to this stuff and use it all the time.
Vegan Meatball Options
I love making my own vegan meatballs because it’s so easy. So, whether you want to make your own, or you prefer storebought, here are some great options:
- Impossible Meatball Sub — You can make meatballs with Impossible ground plant-based meat. Use a typical meatball recipe, but substitute a flax egg (or Just Egg), and then cook them just like regular meatballs.
- Gardein Vegan Meatballs — We regularly buy packages of Gardein meatballs because it’s nice to have them in the freezer for sandwiches, pasta, and more.
- Pure Farmland Veggie Meatballs — These need to be cooked in a skillet before adding them to your sandwiches. Follow the package directions. They’re very tasty with an spicy Italian flair.
- Beyond Meatballs — Like these other products, they need to be cooked up prior to eating them. I have yet to see them in stores, but I hear they’re amazing.
- Good & Gather — This is the Target brand and their plant-based meatballs are delicious, affordable, and perfect for this vegan meatball sub recipe!
- Lentil Meatballs — If you’re into making your own, these plant-based lentil meatballs are so good!
Serve this main meal sandwich with any of the following side dishes:
Store sandwiches in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They can be frozen in freezer-safe containers or bags for up to 2 months.
Mixing it Up
I’m suggesting marinara sauce for your meatballs, but there are different sauces you can use to take this dish in another direction. Try these when you’re wanting something a little different:
- Vegan BBQ Sauce — spread BBQ sauce over the meatballs to create a summertime favorite sandwich or snack
- Vegan Alfredo Sauce — You can make a white pizza, so why not a white meatball sub!
- Get spicy with Vegan Buffalo Sauce!
Is marinara sauce vegan?
Not all marinara sauces are vegan. In fact, some have meat and/or cheeses in them, so always read the label before purchasing marinara sauce.
Is the Beyond Meat Sub at Subway vegan?
The Beyond Meat Sub at Subway is vegetarian. To make it a vegan option, order it on either the 9-grain or standard Italian bun and without cheese.
More Vegan Sandwiches
Everyone loves this vegan meatball sub sandwich! If trying it has you itching to try other vegan sandwiches, here are some favorites:
Vegan Meatball Sub
For the Meatballs:
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Make the lentil mixture according to instructions. Then use a cookie scoop to create 1-inch meatballs. Place these on the prepared baking sheet. You can place them closely together, just leave enough room for air to circulate around them.
- Spray the meatballs with a light coating of vegetable cooking spray.
- Bake for 30 minutes, using tongs to turn the meatballs about halfway through cooking.
- Whether using frozen or homemade meatballs, transfer them to a saucepan and cover with marinara sauce over medium heat. Gently stir until the meatballs are coated. Cook until the sauce and meatballs are heated through, around 10 minutes.
For the Meatball Subs:
- Spread butter on both cut sides of the buns. Turn your oven's broiler on and broil buns until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Keep a careful watch on the buns so they don't burn.
- Place 4 meatballs on each toasted bun. Add a bit of sauce to each bun. Top with equal amounts of vegan mozzarella. Place the sandwiches on the parchment-lined baking sheet from above.
- Place the pan in the oven and broil the sandwiches for 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is golden brown around the edges.
- Serve sandwiches with marinara sauce for dipping or drizzling on top.
- Store sandwiches in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They can be frozen in freezer-safe containers or bags for up to 2 months.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2011 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2022.