Meatball “Crunch” Grinders

Meatball Crunch Grinder by Cravings of a Lunatic

I love a good meatball sub/grinder/hoagie. They just make me happy. But I have a confession…

I prefer them with barbecue sauce instead of marinara sauce. Don’t get me wrong. Marinara ones are welcome in my world too. But my true love will always be one made with barbecue sauce.

This grinder is topped with mozzarella cheese. I’ve done them with provolone as well. I really like mozzarella and provolone mixed together on a sandwich like this too. Just that added kick with two different cheeses. I was out of provolone so I just opted to make it with mozzarella only this time. Came out smashingly well.

You know me, I always have to be honest with you. I wanted to put this post up days ago. It was meant for our monthly Pass the Cookbook Club. Unfortunately between the flooding stress where my son lives and then having an impromptu house guest this week (my “old dude” bro) I’m just really behind the 8 ball right now. I’m barely keeping up with life right now. The group posted the other day and I missed being able to post with them. But since I made the dish I still wanted to share it with everyone.

The group is run by Kita of Pass the Sushi. She picks out a cookbook each month she wants to dust off and use. Then she chooses 3 recipes and we can pick which one we want to make. I have this thing about changing up recipes and putting my own spin on them so I sort of went off the beaten path with this one. The recipe I chose to make is Bobby Flay’s Crunch Burger, which is a great burger topped with chips. I know right, its genius. I really wanted to spin it though. So this technically has no real crunch. The crunch softens because I cook the crunch. I know you’re all scratching your heads right now wondering what I mean. 

I did not think my family, or myself quite frankly, would be too keen on topping a burger with chips. I also have eaten burgers too much lately so I wanted to spin this. One thing led to another and instead of a burger I made meatballs. The crunch got shoved into the meatballs instead of on them. And it got a barbecue bath instead mayo. I think my regulars know my disdain for mayo. Okay it’s not disdain as much as an allergy. But disdain just sounds so much cooler right.

I whipped these up for a family dinner. Lots of enthusiastic thumbs up on this one. I was told to “blog it”. So when they prompt me to blog things I know it’s a good meal. I made Fried Smashed Potatoes with them which were a huge hit too. I think they would also go perfectly with my Aerosmith Potatoes as well.

So a huge apology to Kita and the Pass the Cookbook gang. I am so sorry I missed the posting deadline this month. However I felt the urge to still share this since I had a few free minutes today.

Remember this is not technically crunchy, the crunch is the secret weapon inside the meatballs. I swear putting the chips inside gives the meatballs the greatest texture and the taste is out of this world. Adds a great hint of salt in the recipe, as well as some extra bite. Would be wicked good if you made these with American Cheese and then used Doritos in the meatballs.

Okay now I want to make them again with Doritos in them.

Meatball Crunch Grinder by Cravings of a Lunatic

Meatball “Crunch” Grinders
Prep time
Total time
Super easy meatballs made into amazing grinders with lots of ooey, gooey cheese over top.
Serves: 6 large or 12 small grinders or submarine sandwiches
For the Meatballs:
  • 3 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 splash of spicy barbecue sauce or hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste (I combined ½ tsp himalayan and ½ tsp alaea salt)
  • 5 handfuls of plain potato chips, broken into smallish pieces
For the Meatball Dredge/Coating:
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of salt
For the Meatball Sauce:
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
For the Grinders:
  • Submarine buns or Soft Buns (we used 6 mini sub buns and 3 large sub buns)
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup of barbecue sauce
  • Optional- 12 slices of mozzarella cheese (this keeps a layer of cheese between the bottom bun and the meatballs and sauce which will keep the grinder from getting soggy!)
For the Prep:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray the bottom of a dutch oven with non stick spray.
  3. Also line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment for the final step, and set aside.
For the Meatballs:
  1. Pop all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix by hand just until it comes together. Do not over- work it.
  2. Roll meatballs into large golf ball size spheres, just working them enough to form the shape quickly.
  3. You can pop them onto a lined platter until the next step if you like or just cook as you go.
  4. For the Dredge/Coating:
  5. In a small bowl combine the ingredients. Then drop each meatball in and roll around to coat.
  6. Take two large frying pans and place then on the stove top. Drizzle a healthy amount of olive oil in each one. Turn the heat on medium high. Once the oil glimmers drop the meatballs in the pans being careful not to over-crowd them. They cook better with some space. Allow them to brown on all sides. You may need to do two batches even with two pans. That's okay. Don't sweat the small stuff. As they finish cooking drop them into the dutch oven (large casserole dishes work too), and continue this step until all the meatballs are cooked. You just want to brown them, they will cook through in the oven so don't worry about them being rare inside. Set the pan aside while you make the sauce.
For the Meatball Sauce:
  1. In the frying pans you used for the meatballs (don't clean them, there is flavour in the bits and you're going to use that to your advantage now) you are going to cook the onions and shallots in olive oil until they caramelize. This will take about 10 or 12 minutes depending on heat, dice size and your olive oil. You want to cook them over a medium heat until they turn a golden colour.
  2. Now add the barbecue sauce, water and garlic to the pans.
  3. Bring that to a hard boil. Allow it to continue to boil for about 2 or 3 minutes. It will start to thicken just a touch. Now pour that over top off your meatballs you set aside. Cove the meatballs, and pop them in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes you will remove the cover and continue to cook them for about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Baste them halfway through.
  5. Remove the meatballs from the oven. Now turn the oven up to 400 degrees F and allow it to hit that temperature before popping grinders into the oven. You need it hotter so it melts the cheese nicely.
  6. Now scoop out the meatballs with a wire scoop so you get the meatballs but not the sauce at this point. Do NOT discard the barbecue mixture. Set it aside. You're going to use this.
  7. I cut the meatballs in half but you don't have to. I just find they sit on the grinder buns better that way. Use your own judgement.
  8. Putting the grinders together:
  9. Your oven should be preheating to 400 degrees F.
  10. Your two rimmed cookie sheets should be lined with parchment.
  11. Your barbecue sauce from the meatballs should be nearby for drizzling.
  12. Your meatballs should be sliced in half, or not, as the case may be.
  13. Okay now that you've checked off your to do list you can start assembling.
  14. Slice your buns BUT NOT all the way through. Leave the top and bottom attached and stop about a ¼ inch from the end. Makes them easier to fold over and not lose ingredients because they are still attached.
  15. Lay the buns on the parchment lined cookie sheets.
  16. Lay down a layer of mozzarella cheese slices on the bottom part of each bun.
  17. Now place rows of meatballs down each bun.
  18. Take a slotted spoon and scoop out the onions and shallots with a little barbecue juice as well onto a plate, or in a bowl.
  19. Now take a spoon and spoon a bunch of that oniony/ shalloty/bbqy goodness over each sub. Use as much or as little as you like. I used every last onion and shallot bit on mine, I then discarding the leftover sauce since it's pretty fatty at this point.
  20. Now take the fresh ¼ cup of barbecue sauce and pour a little over each one.
  21. Top with as much cheese as you can fit on each one.
  22. Leave the grinders sort of face up on the sheets.
  23. Pop them in the preheated oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  24. Remove from oven.
  25. Serve with a big old "omg I need a napkin in each hand" smile!
Inspired by Bobby Flay's Crunch Burger from his cookbook, Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries and Shakes

I found using a super spicy sauce in the meatball, then a milder sauce to cook them in worked beautifully. Everyone's taste buds are different so adjust accordingly. We amped half up with a touch of ancho chili powder.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 to 2 per person

Meatball Crunch Grinder by Cravings of a Lunatic

I know right. You just want to dive right in there. I’m going to be even more honest with y’all. I took these photos after we ate so the cheese wasn’t hot any more. What? We were all chomping at the bit to eat so I decided to take pics in the moonlight with cold cheese. You can’t even really tell these aren’t hot any more. I should take photos of them right out of the smoking hot oven when I reheat them. You will pass out, if you haven’t already.

Today I also whipped up an impromptu lunch for me and all the dudes who were here. Old Dude (my loving nickname for my older brother Scott) is here visiting. One of Old Dude’s friends was here, we love John and he’s a bit of a foodie himself. So I love to feed him when he pops in during Old Dude’s visits. And hubs was here too, he’s home from work for a few days and has been working on our deck. So I figured I’d take advantage of all that testosterone and make them all a manly lunch. So I whipped up the most amazing Cheese Steak Sandwiches I’ve ever had. Basically it was a BBQ Steak Grinder. If there’s one left by morning I’ll snap a few pics so I can share it with you soon. If someone, and I’m not naming any names (*cough*Old Dude*cough), steals and scarfs in the middle of the night then we’re screwed. I’ll have to make them again so I can get photos. Come to think of it someone (*cough*Lunie*cough) should scarf the last of them so it forces me to make more. Okay, this evil plot is sounding better and better all the time.

Okay so I apologize to Miss Kita and the Pass the Cookbook gang for missing the freaking deadline this month. Hopefully these out of this world grinders make up for it. I just had to share them with you. They’re too good to keep to myself.

Hopefully tomorrow I can squeeze in some time to share my epic ice cream round-up with you. I’m throwing a family brunch and then we’re all hitting a flick in the afternoon so my time is limited. But hopefully I can sneak some time to double-check all the links so I can pop it up for the kick off of my Ice Cream Sundays season. You know I’ve loved doing Ice Cream Sundays for the past two years. Since we’re fully into the summer season I figure I should get my arse in gear and get my ice cream maker churning for you.

Then next week I have a couple of Virtual Picnic posts lined up. If you haven’t entered the giveaway yet you should rush over to do that. I also have some fun family photos to share with you this week. Plus my Eat Write Retreat post and a beef recipe to thank my lovely scholarship provider. Busy, busy, busy. Which is likely why it’s almost July and I just realized I haven’t planted one flower yet this summer. Usually my yard is brimming with flowers and looks gorgeous. I think the neighbours must be wondering if hubs has locked me up in the attic or something. I cannot believe I haven’t planted flowers or touched up the mulch, or even weeded yet this year. It’s a scary mess out there. Maybe I can convince Old Dude to come out and help me before he heads home. We’ll call it the grinder repayment plan.

Toodles and smoochies! xx

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  1. says

    Really fun post. And interesting recipe – it’s not something that would have occurred to me, but it sure sounds like it works. I take a lot of photos of cold food – sometimes it works better (or in the case of my drink photos, they’re all warm – I don’t want condensation frosting the glass). It takes time to do photos (at least for me), so even if the food starts out warm, it’ll probably be cold by the time I’m done. Easier to deal with styling the food while it’s cold, and moving on. Anyway, thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining post – thanks.

  2. says

    I would like some of these meatball crunch grinders right away, but I’m feeling very lazy, and there’s a cat laying on my leg. Please make some for me and deliver.

  3. says

    The title of this post immediately intrigued me. I had to find out what the crunch was all about and now I’m even MORE intrigued! I’ve gotta give this a try. And I’ve never had a meatball sub with anything other than marinara sauce but a bbq sauce sounds wonderful! Love this recipe.

  4. says

    Found this on Pinterest – they look SO good. The thought of putting chips into burgers or in this case meatballs is something I had never considered, but it makes perfect sense to have them act as a binder. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  5. Christiane - Taking On Magazines says

    Oh my. I think I like your sandwich more than the original burger, though I love both mayonnaise and chips. I hope your big bro visit has been awesome.

  6. says

    You are a gal after my own heart… I was just thinking about meatball subs this weekend when I bought some perfect hoagie rolls. :) I hope your son is safe now.. take care. :)

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