Meet your new favorite party food! Perfectly toasted, soft rolls are filled with tender ground beef, melted cheddar cheese, a homemade special sauce and all your favorite toppings to make this cheeseburger sub recipe. Whether you serve these burger-inspired sub sandwiches at a watch party, tailgate or just a casual gathering, everyone is sure to love them.
Why You Need to Make This Recipe
I mean no disrespect to burgers, but sometimes it's fun to change it up. A good burger piled high with toppings is always satisfying. The same can be said about a toasted sub sandwich.
So why not bring the two together to make one fun party dish? No one in their right mind would turn down a juicy burger or sub sandwich, especially when slathered with this delicious homemade special sauce, and these subs are completely customizable to suit everyone's individual taste. Guaranteed crowd-pleaser? Yes, please!
Plus, these subs couldn't be easier to make. Rather than firing up the grill, crumbled beef quickly cooks on the stove, which is great if you plan on serving these subs during chilly weather, and we don't have to worry about taking the time to form perfectly shaped burger patties. When we're talking about casual gatherings, it doesn't get better than quick and easy.
Bonus: Love a good party sub? You should also try my Buffalo chicken sub!
As usual, let's first chat ingredients. Here's everything we need to make both 0ur special sauce and cheeseburger subs.
- Sweet relish
- Garlic cloves
- Apple cider vinegar
- Onion powder
- Hot sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Ground beef
- Olive oil
- Sub rolls
- Cheddar cheese
- Melted butter
- Additional desired toppings
What Is Special Sauce?
Of course, most people hear special sauce and think McDonald's. This is not a copycat McDonald's special sauce recipe.
Rather, this is simply a burger sauce I created and love. Sure, there's a bit of classic Americana inspiration in the recipe name, but I just want to set expectations that this isn't meant to be the same thing as the McDonald's sauce. While my sauce is mayo based with sweet relish, it also contains fresh garlic and my own spice combination to give it a unique flavor.
And don't feel like you can only use this special sauce on these subs. Besides your standard burger, you can even use this sauce as a dipper for all sorts of appetizers. Fried mushrooms, zucchini fritters, corn cakes -- you name it. They'd all be great to dip in this sauce.
Get ready for one simple recipe. We start by making our special sauce, which is as easy as mixing mayonnaise, sweet relish, garlic, spices and flavorings. And for easy entertaining, feel free to take care of this step days ahead.
Now we move on to our subs. We cook our ground beef in a large skillet and add a little garlic in the end for an extra delicious flavor boost. From here, we drain our cooked beef and then divide it among sub rolls.
I like my burgers with melted cheese, so to get that same effect, we top with cheddar or your preferred cheese and place under the broiler for about a minute.
As a bonus, this perfectly toasts our cheeseburger subs. Of course, you can always skip this step, but I think we can all agree melted cheese is best, so I’m not sure why you would. But you do you.
After broiling, we slather on that delicious homemade special sauce with our desired toppings and enjoy one tasty cheeseburger sub. See? How quick and easy was that?
For the photos, I kept it classic: shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, red onions and special sauce. But don’t feel like you have to stop there. You have so many topping options with this sub.
- Bacon or my bourbon bacon jam
- Fried egg
- Caramelized or fried onions
- Avocado slices or guacamole
- Fresh jalapeno slices
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Potato chips
- Tropical pico de gallo or chipotle-roasted tomato salsa
- My authentic Texas chili or Colorado-style pork green chile
And those are just a few options. Feel free to get creative and add your own twist.
How to Serve
You have two options here. These subs work well as a main entree served whole, or you can cut them in half for an appetizer.
For a cute presentation, you can wrap them in parchment paper and tie them with some rustic string. Or you can keep it simple and place them on a tray unadorned. Your call.
I based these pairings off your standard toppings, so these could vary depending on what you add to your sandwich. That said, for a standard cheeseburger sub, I love a double IPA. The bitter hops and the sharp cheddar balance each other nicely, and the caramel-like malt works great with the rich beef. Plus, all those bubbles cut through the fat to keep our palate refreshed.
If wine is more your style, I'm partial to a cabernet sauvignon. This bold wine is a classic match with both beef and cheddar, and I love how a cab's savory notes pair with those big flavors. Plus, cabernet sauvignon has enough acidity to break through all the different toppings of our sub to keep everything balanced.
For a fun party treat, I hope you try this cheeseburger sub recipe. No matter what you choose for toppings, everyone is sure to love this party sandwich. Please let me know how you enjoyed this recipe in the comment section and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. You can also catch me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Looking for More Party Food?
- Soft beer pretzels with Oktoberfest cheese dip
- Crab cake sliders with basil-avocado aioli
- Jamaican jerk salsa
- Ahi nachos with wasabi crema
- Minted lamb burgers with tzatziki sauce
Cheeseburger Sub With Special Sauce
- Large skillet
- Broiler-proof baking sheet
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon sweet relish
- 1 garlic clove minced or grated
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- Few dashes of hot sauce
- Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt to taste
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 garlic cloves minced or grated
- 4 6-inch sub rolls
- 1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- Additional desired toppings optional
- To make the special sauce, add the mayonnaise to a small bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can do this up to a week in advance.
- To make the cheeseburger subs, in a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil warms, add the ground beef and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Cook the beef, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat during the cooking process. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, constantly stirring. Turn off the heat and drain the beef.
- Divide the beef among four sub rolls. Top each with ¼ cup shredded cheddar. Place in the broiler until the cheese melts. This should only take about a minute, so keep a close eye to make sure the bread doesn't burn. Remove from the broiler and dress with special sauce and desired toppings. Lightly brush the sub rolls with melted butter. Enjoy!
- As listed, this recipe is for whole sandwiches to make a meal. However, you can cut the subs in half and serve as an appetizer.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.