Grinder (or Sub, or Hero, or Hoagie) Rolls

Are they subs, hoagies, or heroes where you live?  Grinders, maybe?  Apparently there are thirteen or so names for this style of sandwich, but those are the only four I’ve ever personally encountered.  To Lane they are heroes.  You can take the boy out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the boy.  Being a New Englander (with family hailing from Eastern Massachusetts), I used to call the cold sandwiches subs and the hot or toasted subs were grinders.  Now I’ve noticed I use them almost interchangeably, so when O requested meatball subs for dinner (the same kid who wouldn’t eat pasta sauce less than a year ago!) I set to work instead of stopping to ponder the difference any further.

The perfect meatball sub starts with a great sub roll.  The roll should be soft enough that you don’t send meatballs flying everywhere while you try to bite through the crusty bread.  The roll also needs to be dense enough that the sauce doesn’t seep all the way through, making a soggy mess.  The latter is my preference, I know plenty of people who happily devour a meatball sub even if the bread is completely soaked through.  Ever since I started making our bread at home, I’ve attempted the perfect sub roll a few times.  Some were too crusty, some were not crusty enough.  Some were too soft to hold up to much filling, and others were too dry.  These have solved my sandwich roll problems.  They are soft and just crusty enough, and they held up really well to a generous filling of sauce and meatballs.  I can stop my search for the perfect roll and go back to convincing Lane that around these parts, he’s eating a sub (or maybe a grinder).

best sub rolls

Sub (or Grinder, or Hero, or Hoagie) Rolls


  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 C. warm (105-115 degrees) water, divided
  • 2 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 C. bread flour (see notes on flour in the directions below)
  • 2 C. all-purpose flour


Combine yeast and 1/4 C. of the warm water  in a small bowl.

Sprinkle 1 tsp. of the sugar over the yeast mixture and let sit for about 5 minutes, or until foamy.

Add the remaining 1 1/4 C. of warm water and remaining 1 tsp. of sugar to the yeast mixture.

Add the oil and stir to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the salt and both flours.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment and knead for 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Note on flour: I have made these rolls when it is very humid outside (and thus humid in the house), making for an incredibly sticky dough.  If you find it necessary, add more flour 2 Tbsp. at a time during the kneading process.  The final dough should be smooth and elastic and only very slightly if at all sticky.  I don’t find it necessary to add more flour every time I make these, it just seems to depend on the level of humidity.

When the dough is finished, lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bottom.

Turn the dough once to coat it evenly with oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, punch down, and divide it into 8 equal-sized balls.

Shape each ball of dough into a long oval, close to how large you want the finished rolls to be.  The rolls will get larger, my ovals were 5-6 inches long and the finished sub rolls are 7-8 inches long.

Place the shaped rolls on the lined baking sheet and make a 1/4 inch deep slash across the top of each roll using a razor blade or sharp knife.

Cover the baking sheet with greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place.  Allow the rolls to rise for 30 minutes.

Bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a wire rack to cool before slicing.

Makes 8 rolls.

Source: adapted from Rakish Eats


2 thoughts on “Grinder (or Sub, or Hero, or Hoagie) Rolls

  1. Dammit, now I want a meatball sub! I’m probably not going to make these anytime soon, but I’m glad to see you’ve done all the hard tweak work 😉 Bread dough can be real finicky sometimes. Once, I made hamburger buns for big family barbecue. My mother laid out wax paper instead of parchment. I didn’t notice until after the second rise, but I couldn’t put them in the oven that way; transferring them to parchment deflated them and they turned out hard.

    I hope “O” enjoyed the grinders. 🙂


    1. The meatball subs were AWESOME! There is no way to go wrong with my mom’s meatball recipe (and mine never turn out exactly like hers but even if they’re close and not exact they’re pretty damn good) and good bread. Most quiet dinner to date- we were all shoveling meatball and cheese deliciousness in so fast there was no time for talking until afterward.

      Bread dough is both my favorite dough and my nemesis. I keep trying pretzel rolls (which I made in my old apartment with zero issues), but somewhere along the way they deflate. I’m going to blame a combination of this house being a little humidity bubble and the electric oven (which I would blame for just about anything because I miss my gas oven). They still turn out tasty and chewy, but they don’t look all that pretty. It’s a hard life, having to eat all of these pretzel rolls until I’m happy with them 😀


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