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Meatball “Crunch” Grinders

Super easy meatballs made into amazing grinders with lots of ooey, gooey cheese over top.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Servings: 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:

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:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray the bottom of a dutch oven with non stick spray.
  • Also line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment for the final step, and set aside.

For the Meatballs:

  • Pop all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix by hand just until it comes together. Do not over- work it.
  • Roll meatballs into large golf ball size spheres, just working them enough to form the shape quickly.
  • You can pop them onto a lined platter until the next step if you like or just cook as you go.
  • For the Dredge/Coating:
  • In a small bowl combine the ingredients. Then drop each meatball in and roll around to coat.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • Now add the barbecue sauce, water and garlic to the pans.
  • 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.
  • After 30 minutes you will remove the cover and continue to cook them for about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Baste them halfway through.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Putting the grinders together:
  • Your oven should be preheating to 400 degrees F.
  • Your two rimmed cookie sheets should be lined with parchment.
  • Your barbecue sauce from the meatballs should be nearby for drizzling.
  • Your meatballs should be sliced in half, or not, as the case may be.
  • Okay now that you've checked off your to do list you can start assembling.
  • 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.
  • Lay the buns on the parchment lined cookie sheets.
  • Lay down a layer of mozzarella cheese slices on the bottom part of each bun.
  • Now place rows of meatballs down each bun.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Now take the fresh ¼ cup of barbecue sauce and pour a little over each one.
  • Top with as much cheese as you can fit on each one.
  • Leave the grinders sort of face up on the sheets.
  • Pop them in the preheated oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven.
  • 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.


Serving: 1g