Loose Meat Sandwich Recipe (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

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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.

5 from 14 votes

Loose Meat Sandwich Recipe (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.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword beef, sandwich
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 382kcal
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Drain the fat if desired (I don't, and it is closer to the original recipe if you don't, but you can if you want). Stir in onion.
  • 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.


Calories: 382kcal


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  1. Recarolyn

    I am from Iowa. We had an original Made-Rite
    on Main Street. Ate there often & I knew the people that worked there.
    I use a stainless steel saucepan. One lb. ground beef 80/20. A little water, sugar, or a little brown sugar, & mustard & about half a diced onion & a little
    garlic powder “opt”.
    I use a potato masher to get the meat to a fine consistency. Serve on a bun with whatever you like. YUMMO

  2. Theresa

    Hello…I remember these from Jr high school back in the 70’s. ..I’m so wanting to try this recipe…Would you know how to figure the carb count without the bun.. I’m guessing only a few…I’m on a very strict low diet to control my T2 diabetes. .Thanks so much…

    1. meggan

      Hi Theresa, happy to help. If you remove the buns, the carbs are 3.5g per serving including 0.6g dietary fiber and 1.9g sugar. Since you are T2 I also grabbed the information without the added 1 teaspoon sugar (in case you want to leave it out). Then it is 2.5g total carbs with 0.6g dietary fiber and 0.9g sugar. If you want any other info, just let me know. I use a nutrition label calculator and I’m not a registered dietician so these numbers might not be perfect, but it’s the best I can do. Thank you! -Meggan

  3. Wendy

    Just to be clear… do you drain off the excess fat after browning the beef? I didn’t see that mentioned anywhere in the recipe.

    1. meggan

      Hi Wendy, no, I don’t drain off the excess fat here. However, you certainly could if that was your preference. I’ll update the recipe to explain this very clearly. Thanks! -Meggan

  4. Ness Bashara

    I grew up on Taverns or loose meats
    Have had everything from Tastes, Maid Rites & the like!

    Never put ketchup on a loose meats, just onions & mustered. I also use a little Lip tins Union Soup mix for flavor. Best ever

  5. Cortney

    This was fantastic! I had a maid rite maybe 15 years ago, and don’t really remember it. I can’t say whether or not this recipe is accurate but I do know that it was delicious and we will definitely make it again. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Thanks so much Cortney! I’m glad you enjoyed it! -Meggan

  6. Mike verShaw

    My father ran the maid-rite in Kewanee Illinois for
    50 years starting with the opening in 1926 it was only boiled ground beef salt and pepper I worked there 8 years

  7. Josh

    Love in the area where maid-rite originated. My mother worked for the company that mixed their chain recipe together. She told me she couldn’t remember exactly what all was in it, but did say they used minced beef, and beef tongue…maybe that’s the secret thought I would let you know, maybe try that see if it gets closer.5 stars

  8. Suzy P

    The Minnesoda Fountain in Park Rapids, Minnesota has a similar sandwich called the Beefy Burger. Absolutely the best!

  9. Daniel

    I spoke with a Maid-Rite manager and even she was not allowed to know the original recipe. The meat gets delivered to the restaurants in clear plastic bags ready to be heated. While the mustard, chopped onions, etc. are probably on point, a friend once who had never had a Maid-Rite noted that there is clearly some vinegar involved in the recipe.

  10. Jerry

    This is incorrect. I know people that know the recipe so it’s not that no one knows,they’re just not going to tell.
    I lived right next door to the original owner of the very first Maid rite in Muscatine Iowa’s, Daughter. Saw the Owner often.
    I recently say the grandchildren (who know the recipe) but they wouldn’t tell me!

    1. meggan

      Sorry for the confusion, OBVIOUSLY somebody knows, yes. That isn’t what I meant, LOL. I meant no one who knows is telling. But yes, you’re technically right.

  11. Joy

    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. 5 stars

    1. meggan

      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

  12. Angie

    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!5 stars

  13. john gunderson

    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!!

  14. Melissa

    So instead of water you used beef broth?

  15. Dale Ast


  16. Dale Ast

    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!

    1. Jennifer Senne

      Dale, I use to live in Wichita and YES!!! They’re sandwiches are amazing! I’m sure you’ve tried the root beer! SOOOOO good!

  17. Mary Galletta

    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!

  18. Jerri

    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…yum5 stars

  19. Kelly

    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!5 stars

    1. Chris Brown

      we have a Maidrites in Ohio. I’m told the secret ingredient is steaming it in beer. I never make it without it. I still use mustard, salt, pepper and a tad of sugar.

  20. Michelle K

    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.5 stars

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