Loose Meat Sandwich (Maid-Rite Copycat)

Inspired by Maid-Rite in Iowa, Loose Meat Sandwiches are simple yet so very delicious. Make a batch in 10 minutes or less! Also slow cooker friendly.

I am lucky that my brother chose to marry a gal who turned out to be one of my very best friends.

I’m even luckier that said gal, Erin, is from Iowa.

Because of all these preceding events, Erin’s mom ended up coming up from Iowa to Milwaukee and made me (well, all of us), Loose Meat Sandwiches.

Considering my profile as a high-level carnivore, I was pretty excited.

Loose Meat Sandwich - a photo of a bun with meat in a silver dish with a white and red check paper with a coke in the background on wood - click photo for full written recipe

Her Loose Meat Sandwiches, so very delicious, are inspired by an Iowa restaurant chain called Maid-Rite.

No one knows the exact Rite-Maid loose meat sandwich recipe, and the only ingredients everyone seems to agree on beef, salt, and pepper. Some cooks add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, soy sauce, paprika, or sugar.

They look a lot like Sloppy Joes but without the Sloppy. There is no sauce to speak of, yet the beef is decidedly seasoned.

In other Midwest states, you may find them under other names such as a Tavern Sandwich, a Steamer, a Big T, or a Tastee.

And they are ready in 10 minutes or less! Seriously. You can also them in a slow cooker (see recipe notes). So easy! SO DELICIOUS.

I could actually just eat the meat plain. And I have.

Inspired by Maid-Rite in Iowa, Loose Meat Sandwiches are simple yet so very delicious. Make a batch in 10 minutes or less! Also slow cooker friendly.
5 from 10 votes
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Loose Meat Sandwich

Inspired by Maid-Rite in Iowa, Loose Meat Sandwiches are simple yet so very delicious. Make a batch in 10 minutes or less! Also slow cooker friendly.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 377 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (85/15 recommended)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 hamburger buns, split for serving
  • Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, combine beef, water, mustard, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Simmer over medium heat until the beef is cooked through, about 5 minutes, breaking up clumps of meat with a spoon. Stir in onion.

  2. Serve meat on buns with toppings on the side such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and pickles. 

Recipe Notes

  1. Inspired by Maid-Rite. Adapted from Cook's Country Eats Local.
  2. To make Loose Meat Sandwiches in a slow cooker, brown beef and add to slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients except buns to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours. Serve in buns.

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27 comments


  1. I didn’t realize that Maid-Rite is a chain. I know Maid-Rite from their location in Greenville, OH. They are famous for their alley wall of bubble gum. Gross, but hey. People talk about it :) I had heard that another ingredient is beer. I’m excited to try your recipe, though, and see how it stands up to what I remember. :)


  2. I’m pretty excited about this recipe.  Maid-Rites are a fond childhood memory. It was a special treat to have a Maid-Rite when we “went into town”!  Can’t wait to try it.  Thanks!


  3. I make these for our Youth Group at church. I simmer the crumbled beef in beef broth, it adds a nice richness to the meat. We use Pita pockets instead of buns, it cuts down on spillage with the kids!

    My husband is from Iowa and whenever we go back to visit family, I have to get Maid-Rites multiple times.

    • I love the idea of pita pockets, Tracy! That’s genius. I’m such a sloppy eater, I need that for ME, not even just my kids! Ha ha. I will definitely try your beef broth tip next time too. Great idea. Thanks for the comment and take care!


  4. I loved reading this.  I am from Iowa and familiar with Maid Riite, but being from Ottumwa, there is a small place called the Canteen.  They make a similar type sandwich and homemade pies.  I love to go there when I get back,  it I’m so far away now, not sure it will happen, so this is a very bitter sweet memory.

    • Hi Cathy, thank you so much for the comment with your story. I love how food is always tied to our most important memories… bittersweet or otherwise. I appreciate your support so much. Thanks again and I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  5. Love this recipe. So simple and so delicious!!

    • Thank you so much Jean! I completely agree… I could just eat the meat plain out of the pot! :D Take care and thanks again!

  6. true maid rites are served without ketchup!

    • We LIVE in Iowa and have a Maid Rite near us. Originally they weren’t served with ketchup but they do now. I just ask them to not put it on ours.

  7. True maid rites are not made with mustard or any sauce at all. Please do not compare this recipe to “iowa maid rite”.

    • I worked at the maid when I was in high school, my uncle Joe Vershaw ran the business for years, we never used any sauce , only salt pepper The hamburger was was boiled slowly in a huge kettle and ocassionly we would stir it. That was it, delicious!!!!


  8. It says at the very beginning…..”inspired by”……it’s not even claiming to be a copykat recipe….get a grip people!

  9. Because I am in a squabble with ground beef…I am subbing in Bison!  I may never go back to ground beef!!


  10. I’m jealous.  I live in the Caribbean and that doesn’t make it here.  I really wanted to bring some back here, but wouldn’t you know, the places I saw it were all out of it the night before I left.  Bison is much healthier!

    • I live in a “one horse town” and I can get Bison in one pound packages at Walmart!  It costs me $9.00 but it is worth it!


  11. This recipe was easy to make and so delicious 🤤. In MN we have a Maid-Rite in St. Cloud that my husband went to when he was younger.  He loved this when I made it for him tonight.  Brought back lots of memories he had with his family when they would visit relatives in the St. Cloud area.


  12. I remember Maid-Rite when I was a kid in Illinois My daughter lives in Nebraska and every time we drive through Iowa we go past a Maid-Rite restaurant. It just always happens to be closed when we go by, darn it. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Even though I haven’t made it yet 5 stars for helping me bring back my childhood!


  13. Wow! Talk about easy and good…this was a hit! Thank you Meggan! I will certainly make it again. Oh, I added 1T of dill pickle juice…yum

  14. I grew up on Marshalltown, Iowa. I love going to Taylor’s Maid-Rite when I go back. One of the first things I asked my sister after the tornadoes hit a couple of weeks ago was if Taylor’s was okay. I wasn’t the only one. Even the locals said it could have been worse. At least Taylor’s is still standing. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  15. They are called Nu Ways in Wichita Kansas. When ever I go home I head to Wichita several times to my Nu Way Sandwich. Yum!

  16. So instead of water you used beef broth?

  17. Our Maid-rite was in down town Fort Dodge, Iowa. The meat was kept in a big heated box like an old Coke Machine. It was heated and filled in advance of noon lunch. Realy good and realy busy!!

  18. Add in a dash of Root Beer syrup…it tastes amazing! I have always put mustard in the meat…served on buns with mustard and onion. Maid Rite was taken over by another company a few years ago and while the sandwiches are close, they’re not the same. When I was a kid, we used to go to the original Maid-Rite restaurant in Muscatine. There’s nothing like a Maid-Rite and a cold mug of root beer!


  19. Grew up with a Maid-Rite down the road, in Bettendorf, Iowa. We don’t have them where I live now but even if we did, apparently things have changed (not for the better). This is a great, comparable sandwich. Won’t be exact but it’s close enough and the food get snarfed down very quickly. I find that I do prefer cooking the mustard in the meat this way, even if that isn’t how the restaurants did it. It allows a subtle mustard flavor without having to douse the bun in cold mustard. My husband doesn’t normally rave about food but he could not shut up about these and said they’re definitely a menu staple. Quick, easy, yummy. 

    • Hi Joy, thank you so much!! You’re right, it’s impossible for me to make an EXACT copycat. But I’m glad you liked this version, I do too. I also genuinely appreciate your use of the verb “snarf” because I do too, and I really feel like not enough people in the world talk about snarfing down food. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing! I’m grateful to you husband too, that’s really always what seals the deal (approval by The Husband). Thanks again, take care, and I appreciate you! -Meggan

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