Recipe: BBQ Meatball Sub with Greens

updated Feb 4, 2021
BBQ Meatball Sub with Greens
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Even as someone who makes a lot of her meals from scratch, I’m endlessly amazed by and thankful for the prepared and frozen food options available at my neighborhood grocery store. For this easy dinner, I combined some of my favorites — frozen meatballs and a bottle of BBQ sauce — with tangy home-cooked kale. It’s comfort food in less than 30 minutes, thanks to the grocery store!

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Take Advantage of the Short Cuts

Pick a BBQ sauce you love and heat the meatballs in it until the sauce thickens, coating the meatballs with its smoky, sticky goodness. While that magic is happening, sauté kale, chopped smaller than usual, until silky and tender, then hit it with a generous amount of vinegar to cut through the richness of this comforting meal. It’s a crowd-pleaser and a reason to always have a bag of frozen meatballs stashed in the freezer.

BBQ Meatball Sub with Greens

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 14 ounces

    fully cooked frozen meatballs

  • 3/4 cup

    barbecue sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 bunch

    kale, stems removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • Salt

  • 2 tablespoons

    apple cider vinegar

  • 4

    hot dog buns or sandwich rolls


  1. Place the meatballs and BBQ sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the sauce thickly coats the meatballs, 2 to 3 minutes more. Meanwhile, cook the kale.

  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the kale, garlic, and a big pinch of salt. Sauté until the kale is tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and cook for 2 minutes more.

  3. To serve, divide the kale among the buns or rolls and top with the meatballs and sauce if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Kale substitutions: Substitute any dark, leafy green for kale.
  • Storage: Leftover meatballs and kale can be stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Credit: Kitchn