A Healthy Version of a Meatball Sub: Yes You Can!

July 6, 2015   9 Comments

I can’t turn down a good meatball sub sandwich. Meat, cheese, sauce, and bread – it is almost the polar opposite of the healthy food that I feature here.

Mushroom Meatballs

Ohh, but I love it so!

I use mushrooms to make meatballs much lower in calories. Adding mushrooms to beef is a great way to:

  • Cut cost
  • Cut calories
  • Make meatballs more flavorful

I use this technique in my book's meatloaf recipe. It works because mushrooms are moist and have a deep flavor (some would say they taste like meat). Adding mushrooms makes meatloaf almost fool-proof because you won’t end up drying it out if you leave it in the oven too long.

I made it open faced to cut down on the bread. What I got was lighter, fluffier meatballs and a truly delicious sandwich. These meatballs are super easy to make if you have a food processor to mince the mushrooms and the garlic.

You can use the meatballs in a sandwich, on pasta, or simply eat them alone as an appetizer (using a toothpick).

Open Faced Mushroom Meatball Parmigiana Sandwiches

(no reviews yet)

Makes 2 sandwiches

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For the meatballs:
8 ounce white button mushrooms, cleaned
1 garlic clove, peeled
8 ounces 80% lean ground beef
1 large egg
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

For the sandwich:
1 round of pita bread
½ cup tomato sauce
1 ounce fresh mozzarella, sliced
fresh basil, optional


Preheat oven to 400 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with non-stick spray. Mince the mushrooms and garlic in a food processor or with a knife. Add mushrooms and garlic to a large bowl and mix with ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan until blended.

Form 1-inch balls of the meat mixture and put them on the baking sheet. Mix should make 20 meatballs. Cook for 20 minutes until dark brown.

To make the sandwich, slice two meatballs in half. Slice the pita bread in half so that you have 2 rounds of bread. Place the meatballs on the bread, spread on ¼ cup sauce, and 1 ounce of the sliced mozzarella. Repeat to make 2 sandwiches.

Heat sandwich under a broiler on high for one minute. Remove when cheese has melted and bread is toasted. Enjoy hot.

Nutrition Facts

one meatball is 57 calories, 3.0 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 2.5 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 5.0 g protein, 0 g fiber, 61 mg sodium, 2 Points+

one sandwich is 210 calories, 8.8 g fat, 4.1 g saturated fat, 17.2 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g sugar, 16.2 g protein, 1.7 g fiber, 400 mg sodium, 5 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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Looks good! Have printed the recipe out. I never thought of mincing mushrooms to make a leaner meatloaf or meatball. Good thinking snack girl.

Do you think this would work with vegetarian crumbles?

I don't eat beef at all, but could the same concept turn up the flavor of my turkey meatballs? I'll try it and let you all know!

@Jeff: not only do mushrooms make turkey meatballs more "meaty" but I've used mushrooms only for faux beef meatballs and fooled my beef-lovers! Chef John's recipes are easy & delectable. I subbed turkey for beef in his beef recipe plus added minced mushrooms.…

@Lisa: Chef John's mushroom meatballs are well-worth the effort.…

That looks yummy?! I learned this from Brenda Leigh Turner on YouTube. Instead of bread crumbs, she takes Mary Gone Crackers and you put it in your food processor or blender to turn it into crumbs and you use that instead. No gluten is in your meatballs. They are still really tasty.

This looks really good, and I'm not even a meatball sandwich eater - never had one, but might give this a try! Thanks, Lisa!

Yum! I may try this with leaner beef, ground chicken, or ground turkey. I've been adding mushrooms to many meat dishes since buying your cook book to keep calories and fat down, and they are always a hit. I hadnt tried this though. Thanks!

Saw this in your newsletter and had everything but the 'shrooms. Always looking for something different and this was soooo easy and sooooo yummy. We usually hit Subway and someone in the family orders a meatball sub big enough that everyone gets a chunk. No more Subway for us when we can do it at home. Thank you for sharing this recipe! It was a major hit at our house.

Hello friend Lisa! I have to avail myself of home care services and am so, SO lucky to have an aide who,is a sensational cook! Amongst other things she does my grocery shopping so therefore I'm constantly emailing your recipes to her (also made her read your book!) so that she can make sure she has everything on hand to make my pick of your recipes! These mushroomy meatballs are definitely on tomorrow's menu! Since I'm unable to exercise as much as I should, your recipes are really helping me maintain a healthy weight. Thank you! Love you!!

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