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Gluten-free Sneaky Meatball Subs are a fun and flavorful dinner. Freezer-friendly, too!

 Sneaky Meatball Subs #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

I’ve never been much of a sneak. Besides the whole moral dilemma that goes along with being a little ratfink, I’m just no good at it!

Too square to sneak out of the house in high school.

Too guilt-ridden after getting my nose pierced in college to wait even 24 hours before calling home to confess then remove it a month later.

Too giggly to try and lie about really anything. I can’t help it!

Ok, I did borrow some of my brother’s Peanut Butter Captain Crunch the last time I babysat my niece and nephew, and the half eaten bowl may have been left out by mistake (idiot!) causing me to be completely busted out via text message, but you know what I mean!

What happens, though, when sneaky behavior can be used for good instead of peanut-buttery evil, like with the stealthy addition of healthy vegetables into a yummy meatball sub?! I saw we sly dogs go for it!

Sneaky Meatball Subs #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

Whether you’re looking to “sneak” some extra veggies into your children’s, spouse’s, or your OWN diet, the addition of grated zucchini into 100% ground turkey meatballs not only gives this fun and flavorful dinner a vitamin boost, but also keeps the meatballs ultra moist and juicy.


I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you’re going to expose our Sneaky Meatball Subs’ secret but either way, nobody will be turning down homemade meatballs snuggled in a whole-wheat bun, topped with marinara sauce & melted cheese!

Sneaky Meatball Subs #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

Start the Sneaky Meatball Subs by making the turkey meatballs laced with zucchini & super-yummy seasonings.


Attach the grating blade to a food processor then send 1 small zucchini, 1/4 small onion, and 4 garlic cloves down the chute.

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If you don’t have a food processor – no worries – just use a box cheese grater, flat grater, or if you can’t get your hands on any of those items, chop everything up real small like.

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Remove the zucchini mixture to a bowl, pull out the grating blade and switch to a non-sharp S-blade, then add the zucchini back to the processing bowl.


Now add 1lb ground turkey to the mix. I went with 100% ground turkey vs 100% ground turkey breast as regular ground turkey is a bit higher in fat, which makes the meatballs super moist and juicy.


To the turkey, add 1 egg white, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce,

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and 1/2 teaspoon each Italian seasoning, salt & pepper.

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Finally, add 1/2 cup gluten-free crushed Rice Chex or panko bread crumbs, which I forgot to photograph cause I was too busy thinkin’ about these meatballs!


Pulse the ingredients together until well combined, then scoop into a large bowl. Alternatively, use your hands to mix everything up.


Roll the mixture into 15 balls using about 2 Tablespoons worth of the turkey mixture per ball.


Place the meatballs onto a non-stick sprayed wire rack (don’t forget this step or your balls will stick to the rack – GAH! ) on top of a foil-lined baking sheet.


Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center. I cut one open around 18 minutes to check on its progress.


While the meatballs cool ever so slightly, bust out the buns. 100% whole wheat hoagie or hot dog buns – gluten-free or regular. Open the buns, then slice up 1oz portions of mozzarella cheese.

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Place 3 meatballs into the center of the buns,


top with your favorite marinara sauce,


then lay the mozzarella cheese on top.


Broil until the sauce is warm, and the cheese is golden brown & gooey!

Sneaky Meatball Subs #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

Sneaky Meatball Subs


Gluten-free Sneaky Meatball Subs are a fun and flavorful dinner. Freezer-friendly, too!


serves 5

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/4 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup crushed gluten-free Rice Chex or panko bread crumbs
  • 5 gluten-free or regular hoagie or hot dog buns
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 5oz fresh mozzarella cheese


  1. Grate the zucchini, onion and garlic in a food processor with the grating blade attached, then remove the contents to a separate bowl. Alternatively you could use a box grater for the zucchini and onion, and finely mince the garlic, or chop by hand. Attach a non-sharp S-blade to the food processor then return the zucchini mixture to the processing bowl.
  2. Add the ground turkey, egg white, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and Rice Chex or bread crumbs to the food processor then pulse to combine. Alternatively, use your hands to mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees then place a wire rack over a foil-lined baking sheet, and spray generously with non-stick spray. Shape turkey mixture into 15 meatballs, using ~2 Tablespoons of the mixture per meatball. Place onto the wire rack and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until no longer pink the center.
  4. Turn the oven to broil, then open up the buns and place three cooked meatballs in the center. Spoon marinara sauce on top of the meatballs, then top with 1oz mozzarella cheese per sub. Broil until the sauce is warm, and cheese is golden brown.
  5. To freeze and reheat leftover meatballs: Cool cooked meatballs completely then place the baking sheet into the freezer until meatballs are frozen solid, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag. To reheat, microwave for 4-5 minutes, or place onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

I tell you what – you can sneak vegetables into my meals any day of the week if they come out tasting like these meatballs, which made the subs taste so decadent and comforting. I could have put back 10!


The zucchini practically melted into the ground turkey, and I couldn’t pick out its texture for anything. Nor the onions, which is what always gets Ben. He HATES crunchy onions. Grated is the way to go!


What’s even more beautiful about this recipe, is that the leftover meatballs freeze beautifully.

To freeze the leftover meatballs let them cool on the baking sheet, then pop the baking sheet into the freezer to let the meatballs freeze solid. Place the frozen meatballs into freezer bags or containers then send ’em back into the frozen tundra. To reheat, just crack the lid and microwave for 4-5 minutes, or bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees on a sheet pan.

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So what say you – to sneak, or not to sneak veggies into your food? That is the question!