These Low-Carb Meatball Subs have everything you’d expect from a meatball sub, except the carbs. This recipe can work for lc/hf, ketogenic, diabetic, Atkins, low-carb, gluten-free, and Banting diets.
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These Low-Carb Meatball Subs contain Italian meatballs rich with flavors of basil, oregano, and garlic. We pour tomato sauce over these meatballs and snuggle them in provolone cheese. Then we wrap them in a crust made from mozzarella dough. We bake them until golden brown to create a meatball sub everyone can enjoy.
I have tried to end my obsession with mozzarella dough. I really have. We discovered mozzarella dough last fall. Our initial experiences with this dough were not pretty. We often ended up with gooey, oily crumble instead of dough.
In spite of these failures, we kept working with it and altering the recipe and when we got it right, we were hooked. We had a stretchy, low-carb dough we could work with.
We tweaked the recipe for this dough over and over and developed delicious low-carb recipes for breadsticks, sticky buns, pastries and even tortilla chips.
At some point, I realized we had loads of recipes with mozzarella dough and needed to branch out a bit more. I have tried. Really. However, mozzarella dough makes amazing low-carb versions of the high-carb foods I crave.
I dream about mozzarella dough. I keep getting ideas for more things I crave and I NEED to try them. Meatball subs are one of those cravings.
This recipe for Low-Carb Meatball Subs calls for pre-packaged spaghetti sauce. This can be an area where nutritional information can change dramatically.
Be sure to read the label as some brands contain sugar which greatly increases the carb content. We found a brand that had 6 grams of carbs in half a cup. Other brands had twice that!
I struggled a bit to decide on portion size for this recipe. It seems like a whole sub should be a serving, but these subs are really big and mozzarella dough is super satisfying. I found half of one to be a satisfying portion. If you like, eat a whole one. A half has only 3 net carbs, and of course, a whole has 6 net carbs.
If you’ve been missing meatball subs, this is a must-try recipe! Pair them with a salad to make a complete lunch or dinner. Enjoy!
Low-Carb Meatball Subs
These Low-Carb Meatball Subs have everything you'd expect from a meatball sub, except the carbs. This recipe can work for lc/hf, ketogenic, diabetic, Atkins, low-carb, gluten-free, and Banting diets.
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the dough:
- 1 1/2 cup super fine almond flour
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons baking powder grain free and aluminum free
- 1 large egg
- 1 ounce cream cheese room temperature
- 2 cups finely grated, part-skim mozzarella cheese
For the assembly:
- 4 tablespoons spaghetti sauce (check the carb content)
- 4 slices provolone cheese cut in half
- 2 teaspoons fresh basil chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped provolone cheese (optional)
For the meatballs:
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the ground beef, garlic, basil, oregano, pepper and salt. It's easiest to use clean hands for this. Divide the mixture into about 16 equal portions. Form each portion into a ball shape
Heat a large well-seasoned skillet over medium-high heat. If you do not have a well-seasoned skillet, or choose to use meat with a low-fat content, you may need to spray the pan with coconut oil before the next step.
Add meatballs to the skillet and cook on medium high. Do not allow the meatballs to touch. If your skillet is too small to cook all of your meatballs without touching, cook them in batches.
Brown all sides of the meatballs, then turn the heat to low and continue cooking until done in the middle. Remove meatballs to a plate and set aside.
For the dough:
Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit. Have two pieces of parchment paper, about 20 inches long, and a rolling pin available. Set up a double boiler. A saucepan with mixing bowl that fits on top works perfectly for this purpose. Fill the lower part of the double boiler with 1-2 inches of water and place over high heat. Bring water to a boil, then turn to low heat to keep it simmering.
In the bowl for the double boiler (not over heat), whisk together the almond flour, xanthan gum, salt, oregano, and baking powder. Stir in the egg. Mixture will appear mealy. Stir in the cream cheese and the mozzarella cheese. This will not combine with the rest of the ingredients at this point.
Place the bowl containing the mixture over the simmering water. Stir constantly until cheese melts and the mixture becomes dough-like. Be careful not to burn yourself from the escaping steam or the hot bowl. I use a silicone oven mitten to hold the bowl for this step.
Turn dough out onto one of the pieces of parchment. Knead a few times to throughly mix the dough. Pat dough into a rectangular shape and cover with the second sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough into a rectangle about 10" X 14". Slide the parchment containing the dough onto a cutting board. If necessary, trim off the rough edges using a serrated knife or a pizza cutter. Cut the dough in half crosswise, then in half lengthwise to create 4 equal sections.
Slide the parchment containing the dough onto a cookie sheet. On each section, place two halves of the provolone cheese, then arrange 4 meatballs lengthwise over top. Spoon one tablespoon of spaghetti sauce over the the 4 meatballs on each rectangle.
Pinch the edges of the short sides together. Sprinkle with the additional basil and grated provolone, if using.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
Serving size: 1/2 a sub, or about 3.5 ounces
Fat (g): 27
Carbs (g): 6
Fiber (g): 3
Protein (g): 28
Net carbs (g): 3
Looks awesome! Is there an alternative to the xanthan gum?
I use xanthan gum to make the dough a bit stickier so it holds together. Xanthan gum is easier to find than you might think. Many regular grocery stores carry it in their baking section. It’s a staple for gluten-free baking and I use it as a thickener as well. If you don’t want to use xanthan gum, this recipe may work if you leave it out as the mozzarella will probably be enough to hold it together.. The dough may be a little tougher, but I think it will still hold together. I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know for sure.
I got Xanthan gum on Amazon … they have all I’ve ever looked for with stuff for cooking and baking Keto! If you have “ prime”, shipping is usually free! No, I don’t work for Amazon … retired pastor’s wife ❌⭕️❤️
I get a lot of ingredients from Amazon as well. They are becoming more widely available, but it’s nice to not have to leave the house right now.
Had these on my menu plan for tonight, but came home exhausted from work. Started reading through the directions and thought they sounded too complicated for the brain power I had left, but pushed through anyway. And I am SO glad I did! These were AMAZING and not complicated at all! Thank you SO much for creating another great recipe that we will definitely make time and time again!
I’m so glad you made them! They are easier than they look!
Can I use glucomannen?
While can’t handle gum and glucomannan can both thicken sauces, I’m not sure that glucomannan would successfully act like the xanthan gum in this recipe. In this case, it’s used to act like gluten rather than as a thickener.
My wife made these for me the other night, and they were really fantastic. Loved em so much I’m trying my hand at the dough tonight. I’m doing a chicken cheesesteak version though. I’m going to use this dough for all my sandwiches in the future. Ketogenic diets can be difficult because people tend to eat the same stuff week in and week out.. This recipe was a much needed change for my palate. New textures and flavors are keeping me in the game right now, and it’s even been like a month since the last cheat meal, because of stuff like this.
Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for your kind words! I really love it when my recipes make it easier for someone to stick to their diet (and be happy about it). Good luck with your keto journey!
Could you use coconut flour instead of almond flour?
Coconut flour seems to soak up liquid more than almond flour, so I don’t think coconut flour would be a suitable substitute.
Its hard when we have an anaphylactic nut allergy – need to use coconut flour almonds are death
I have made a similar dough using sunflower seeds. This would probably work in this recipe, but there is a distinct sunflower seed flavor. Here’s the link: Sunflower Seed Pizza Crust
Now that Harper is off at college, I’m experimenting more with coconut flour. I just created a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins that you may be interested in. Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins using Coconut flour.
Do these keep well? Im thinking of meal preping this as my lunch for the week.
When developing the recipe, I made a bunch of these and had leftovers. I put them in the fridge in a covered container and reheated them in the regular oven. I can’t remember for how long and what temp I used, but they were pretty tasty even the second day out. I didn’t keep any longer than two days, so I don’t know how they would be after that.
Can you buy Mozzarella Dough already made ?
I don’t know of any pre-made mozzarella dough. Sure would be nice. It is easy to make yourself.
This is great! I didn’t read the whole recipe before I started (whoops) and when I made the dough, I just dumped all the ingredients into my food processor and pulsed until it came together in a ball. Turned out perfectly, thanks for the recipe. 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’ve never tried using a food processor for this dough. I would not have expected it to turn out, but I’m glad it worked. Did you heat the ingredients at all? You have made me curious and now I want to try it. I love using my food processor!
No, no heat at all. The texture was more biscuit than bread, but it held together, rolled out nicely, and tasted fantastic.
I’m going to have to try that!
Do you think I could use my bread machine?
I think it would be easier to use a double boiler than to try to use a bread machine. This dough is really easy to make. Some people have told me they use a microwave to melt the cheese. Others have told me that they use a super heavy pot on a low setting. I haven’t tried either one of these things. I feel like the double boiler puts the cheese at a temperature where it melts, but doesn’t easily burn. For the double boiler, I just use a saucepan partially filled with water and a metal mixing bowl that sits on top. It’s not fancy. Just be careful not to burn yourself. It might be possible to use a bread machine, but you would need to have the settings warm enough that the cheese would melt. If you decide to try it, I would love to know how it turns out!
I had made this dough by putting the mozzarella and cream cheese in microwave at 30 second intervals stirring with a fork after each 30 sec. It may take 3 times. Then I put the dry ingredients in and the egg on top of dry and stir with fork till combined and it turned out perfectly. Rolled out just like your instructions and looked like your picture. Delicious, thank you!
Great to hear that worked!
Thank you for posting this hack, it worked like a charm. I rolled my dough between 2 silicone baking mats. Worked perfectly!
We loved it!
Made the dough tonight but using it for noodle/ layers in a Mexican Lasagna. Baked the dough first. It was delicious! Layered it with salsa verde, cooked chicken, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Will let yu know how it turns out! Using the food processor sounds good to me!
Sounds delicious! Let me know how it turns out!
Is there a reason you don’t heat this dough in a microwave oven?
Thanks for checking out our recipes! I don’t use a microwave because I don’t own a microwave. I’m a bit “old school” about microwaves. I dislike the uneven heating they create. I also am very concerned that they destroy many of the nutrients in our food. I know I’m in the minority on this one and I’m one of the few people in our society who don’t use one. I know there are similar recipes that do use a microwave and I do think this recipe would work with one if you prefer to microwave it.
I know you said coconut flour would not work but would another nut flour like walnut? I’m allergic to almonds. Thanks.
Let me play in the kitchen for a few weeks and see what I come up with. I feel like with all of the nut and seed flours out there, something will work for this. I know there are a lot of people sensitive to nuts and many who don’t like coconut flour, so I can see a need for a recipe like this using a different kind of flour.
Were you able to come up with a nut-free flour to use? My hubby is allergic to tree nuts also!!! Thanks!
Yes, I have been working on this. I developed a recipe that uses sunflower seed flour. This recipe is as a pizza crust and it does have a flavor of sunflower seeds. I love this recipe when combined with things that go well with sunflower seeds,like this spinach and feta pizza recipe. The sunflower seed flavor might be a little strong to substitute the dough for this dough for the meatball subs. I’m still working with it. What are your favorite nut-free flours?
So mine didn’t come out near as pretty as yours but they tasted AMAZING. I’m so glad I discovered your blog because every recipe I’ve tried has been a keeper. I shared this recipe in a keto group I’m in with about 60k members so if you saw a lot of pins yesterday that was why. Keep the recipes coming!
Thanks so much for your feedback!I did notice a boost in traffic yesterday. Thanks for sharing our recipes. It helps keep our blog afloat!
Would this work as a pizza dough
You may want to use this pizza crust recipe instead. It’s just a bit different, but I think it works better for pizza.
You’ve wrote that you’ve played around with your mozzarella dough recipe. What is the current recipe? I’d like to try making it.
The current recipe is as it is on the post. I’ve been working on a version with nut free flours and it’s not quite ready for the blog yet. It will probably be a few more weeks.
Have you ever mixed the dough up in advance and just refrigerated until ready to use? I’m thinking for camping…mix the dough up at home then all I have to do is roll it out and use?
Thoughts since you have so much experience with it?
I have never tried this, so I don’t know how it will work. My gut feeling is that if you wait to roll out the dough, it will become too stiff to roll out. It would probably work better to roll out the dough right after making it, then assembling it later (I haven’t tried this either). If it were for a pizza, I would just bake the dough at home before taking it, then assemble the topping and baking it to melt the topping cheese when you get there.
Good luck to you and let me know how it goes!
I tried this recipe tonight. It was really great!! I did have some trouble with the dough breaking apart when I tried to pinch it together. Did I do something wrong?
It’s hard to tell if you did something wrong. It sounds like you enjoyed it, so you must have done most of it right! If you had trouble with the dough breaking apart, you may not have warmed it long enough and the cheese may not have been as pliable as it should have been. Glad you enjoyed it!
Use mozzarella dough and stuff cut out circles with mashed cauliflower! Pierogi, if you ever heard of them
I love this concept of the dough. I have made several recipes similar to this. Do you happen to have any dough recipes that do not use dairy. I unfortunately discovered dairy and I don’t do well together. Thanks in advacne.
You are definitely not alone in your intolerance to dairy! I don’t have a great substitute for this dough. It’s hard to get that stretchy quality that holds up well without the mozzarella. I do have other recipes for dough which might work for you. In my sour cream biscuit recipe, you could substitute plain dairy-free yogurt for the sour cream and either ghee or coconut oil for the butter. This recipe can be rolled out and shaped. My lemon shortbread recipe and pecan scone recipes could both be made dairy free by substituting coconut oil or ghee (many can handle ghee even if dairy aggravates them) or coconut oil.
I wanted to let you know that I made these tonight and it turned out wonderfully! Thank you for such a nice meal!
Thanks so much for your feedback! Comments like this mean so much to us!
I’m going to use this recipe to make philly cheese steaks tonight! I have steak-ums, peppers, onions and provolone cheese instead of the meatballs and am super excited to have a yummy sandwich! Thanks for sharing!
What a great idea! Sounds delicious!
I have had bariatric surgery so this looks perfect for me but my daughter has an anphylatic allergy to tree nuts so I can’t have almond flour in the house I would need to substitute. I suppose coconut flour would do (not as healthy as almond flour but healthier then dying!) how much extra liquid would be needed? 1 extra egg and maybe 1 extra ounce of cream cheese? What do you think?
I don’t use a lot of coconut flour because my daughter has a sensitivity to it. It soaks up liquids like crazy, so you may want to try using about a half cup. I’m not sure how much extra liquid you would need. It would require a bit of experimentation. Another option would be to try using my Nut-Free Pizza Crust Recipe. This uses sunflower seed flour. It does taste distinctively of sunflower seeds and would not get quite as puffy, but I think it would work in this recipe. Good luck!
These subs look soooo good and we’re really anxious to try them. I’m thinking the roll, by itself, would be great for a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, too. This dough is so very versatile.
Please keep those yummy recipes coming; I so appreciate them.
I’m glad you enjoy our recipes so much!This dough would work great for a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich! Have fun making your own creation.
I made this, but instead of meatballs I used tuna salad and cheddar cheese and made tuna boats….they are in the oven as we speak…keeping my fingers crossed for stellar results.
I hope they turn out great! Sounds like a delicious variation!
Have you every tried cooking the meatballs in a crockpot with the sauce? If so, what settings would be used for that?
I haven’t tried cooking them in a slow-cooker, but my guess is that 6-8 hours on a low setting should do it!
What could i use since im not d any type of flour on my plan
I don’t really know of any substitution that will work if you can’t use any flour.
Can You Freeze These?
I’ve never tried freezing them. I wonder if the sauce would soak in and make them soggy. I’m not sure.
What kind of sauce to you use??
I don’t remember what brand I used. I do remember that carb content varied a bunch between brands, so I chose the brand that was lowest in carbs.
I have been looking for a low carb version of my sons favorite “sandwich.” I’m elated to stumble upon this recipe! I want to share the marinara sauce I found, RAO”S. Rao’s basic marinara has the lowest carb, no added sugar and organic sauce I can find. Bonus is Rao’s taste so good too. My family and I eat strict Ketogenic diet, I am not a rep for the company 🙂
Thanks for sharing such remarkable recipes.
You’re welcome! Thanks for the tip about the marinara. I’ll have to check it out!
I just found Two’s at Costco today. A large bottle for same price as smaller at Walmart!
That dough is amazing! It turned out so good! I did use the microwave method because I could not find a single mixing bowl haha. So glad I found your website.
Thanks so much!
Made this tonight and had a very happy family. Thank you for the recipe. I do need to work on getting the dough rolled out quicker so that when I pinch the ends together they will stick. But, the taste was great!
Glad your family enjoyed them! It takes some practice to get the dough just right, but it gets easier each time.
I am a huge fan of mozzarella dough and found a trick to help work with it. I roll it out on parchment paper and when I cut out the dough, I cut the paper with it (use kitchen sheers) and keep the paper on it to stabilize it while forming it (for filled pastries, samosas, hand pies, etc). Just peel the parchment paper off before baking. It helps a lot to keep it from slumping or tearing.
Just found your blog and can’t wait to try your recipes….they look wonderful!!!
Thanks for the tips!
Amazing!! My son decided to go keto 4 weeks ago. Making keto recipes taste like the real thing can be difficult but THESE were so delicious! The bread reminds me of a biscuit. No crazy almond flavor. Not mealy or grainy. I didn’t have the patience for the double boiler tip so I microwaved it in 30 second intervals which worked. Will make calzones with different fillings. Maybe even empanadas or strawberry shortcake adding some Stevia. Thanks so much!
Glad the recipe made a difference for you!
I made these tonight and they turned out better than I imagined. They looked exactly like the picture. I did my dough in the microwave. Everything turned out great. I used my home canned pasta sauce that only had 3 carbs per 1/2 cup! Delicious!!
I’m so glad they turned out for you! I love it when my recipes make a difference for someone.
My husband doesn’t particularly like anything made low carb. BUT he loves this!! And so do I! Thanks for a great recipe!
So glad it was a hit with both of you! Thanks for your feedback.
Would phyllium husk work in place of the xanthum gum? I ran out and I’m not feeling good enough to go to store. Lol.
I think it would be okay, or you could try just leaving it out. The xanthan gum acts as a stabilizer, but the mozzarella does as well, so you may be okay without. The xanthan gum also gives a bit of a slippery feel to the unbaked dough and helps keep it from sticking to the parchment.
I don’t have super fine almond flour, so could I just pulse some of my regular almond flour in my food processor or magic bullet and achieve the same result?
That should work fine. I find that almond flours vary a lot in consistency, so if yours is powdery rather than grainy, it may work with the extra step.
Have you tried making these with maybe a carbquik Dough? My husband is not a fan of any almond flour dough.
I have never used carbquick, so I can’t really say if it will work or not.
This looks so good! Can the dough make any other dishes?
Absolutely! I use similar dough for pastries and meat pies. It’s very versatile.
Thanks for sharing! I wonder if it would e good to make for a week meal prep?
The pastry can’t be made ahead, but the meatballs could be and then reheated in the sauce.
My husband loves the bread recipe. I have used it to make steak subs and aas pizza crust. Have you ever made it in advance and froze it to make it convenient? I work 12 hour shifts and don’t have the time to !o it after work.
You could probably make it ahead as a pizza crust and bake it lightly, then refrigerate. When you’re ready add toppings and bake until cheese is melted and crust is brown. See our pizza crust recipe for temperature/time information.
I’m not sure you could do the same for the subs.
Made this with my sister and we LOVED it. Meal prepped for 3 days and it was delicious even on day 3 ( oven heated for 7mins at 350)
Thanks! For an amazing recipe
How fun to make things together! Glad you have someone to share your low-carb kitchen adventures with!
Hi have you found a subsitute for almond flour as yet for this recipe. Would love to try it but because of allergies in the family I cannot.
I created a similar dough made of sunflower seed flour. It does taste somewhat like sunflower seeds. I’m not sure how you would feel about that. Here’s the link: Nut Free Pizza Crust
Since the serving size is 8, have you tried making 8 subs instead of 4? Wanted to see if you had tried this before I attempted it tonight….
I haven’t done it this way, but I don’t think it would be a problem. It’s just a matter of making them smaller.
They turned out perfectly!!!!!!!! The minis were the perfect size!
Yay! Glad that worked out for you! Thanks for sharing!
Made these tonight and they turned out fantastic! The dough was a little flimsy on the sides so I had to keep taking them out of the oven and shaping them. Other than that they were perfect. Thanks for this recipe!
Shaping the dough can be a bit tricky. I find that a good pinch at the seams really helps! Thanks!
Wow…so yummy! And fairly easy!
Yay! So glad you enjoyed them!
I also used it as a top crust for a keto turkey pot pie. Used the microwave (glass bowl) to make the dough. Worked great!
I can’t wait to try this! Do you know the shelf life of the “dough”? Have you tried saving it?
I would shape this dough as soon as you make it. Otherwise it will get stiff and you won’t be able to roll it out.
My fiance and I loved these! One pro tip: if you have metal taco stands like the ones I’ve linked, you can use them to support the subs as they cook, keeping them from falling over or making a mess!
I need to be honest. I didn’t like it at all. It had no flavor. I had to smother it in sauce, mozz and salt just to try and finish it. Sorry. I really wanted to like it.
Sorry it didn’t work out for you! It seems that lots of other people love this recipe. I guess everyone has different flavor preferences.
I put my dough in the microwave for one minute, minus the egg, stirred, added the egg, microwaved for thirty more seconds. Quicker than a double boiler. Turned out good!
Tastes fabulous but my dough did not hold together all that great.
Great recipe! The whole family enjoys it. The problem I have is that my dough doesn’t stay together well. I have tried with and without the xanthan gum, and haven’t seen the difference. After I pinch it together I bake it and they fall apart in the oven, most end up open and looking saggy. What am I doing wrong? Any suggestions? Thanks!
I haven’t made these for a while, But I remember REALLY pinching them together. Be sure there isn’t any sauce on the edges before pinching them together. You could try using a fork and crimping the edges like you would for a pie. Also, a bit of whisked egg on the edges might help glue them together.
The type of cheese can also make a difference.Maybe try a different brand next time.
Hi. This sounds amazing and I know the two boys in my house will love them. I usually substitute normal cheddar cheese for my Mozzarella when making fathead dough, as mozzarella is expensive in NZ. Do you think it would still work ok for this?
Ive never used cheddar in Fathead dough. It would change the flavor, but I think they would still taste good. Just different.
I must have done something wrong. I used the double boiler and could not get the mixture to become dough-like. Just crumbles. I finally gave up took it off the the heat, added another egg &tried to knead it to mix into something that resembled a mixture that held together. There was no way I could pull it up to pinch it! Mine looks more like a very dry pizza crust. What did I do wrong?
It does sound like you did something wrong. First of all, did you make any substitutions? What type of mozzarella cheese did you use?
If you used all of the correct ingredients, I would try putting the mixture in a food processor and pulsing it for a few times, then reheating very gently.
I made no substitutions. The cheese was the part skim mozzarella. I’ll try it again soon and use the food processor.
I wonder if maybe you just didn’t give it enough time for the cheese to melt. I’m really not sure what happened.
Could you use the fathead dough for this recipe?
This dough is a version of fathead dough.
Can you make these ahead of time, store them in the fridge and then cook them the next day?
Also can you make the dough in the microwave instead of on the stove?
Yes, you can make the dough in the microwave instead of on the stove. I’ve never tried making them ahead, but I don’t see any issues with doing so. For sure, the meatball portion can be made ahead. If you do try to make the rest of them ahead, you will want to create the “boats” out of the dough and not leave the dough partially done.
Wish I could post my picture. They were amazing!
If you are on instagram, tag @simplysohealthy and we can share it on that platform.