Flavorful seasoned beef is piled high on a bun creating a quick and easy meal your whole family will love. You don't have to be from Iowa to enjoy the classic Loose Meat Sandwich!
This simple recipe is similar in style to a Sloppy Joe, but a bit less saucy. These sandwiches are perfect for a no-fuss meal or feeding a crowd.
What is it?
Commonly known as a Loose Meat Sandwich, these delicious sandwiches are served at popular eateries like Canteen Lunch in the Alley. However, locals will often refer to it as a Maid-Rite sandwich instead, after the popular Maid-Rite restaurant chain, or simply as Tavern Sandwiches, where they are also frequently served.
Primarily consisting of finely crumbled seasoned ground beef and chopped onions, a Loose Meat Sandwich is eaten like a loose hamburger, similar to Sloppy Joes but with the absence of a tomato-based sauce.
Traditionally this sandwich is served on cheap hamburger buns with dill pickles and yellow mustard. However, I have it on good authority that ketchup and sometimes even a slice of cheese are added by locals.
Though regionally popular in Iowa since the 1920s, Loose Meat Sandwiches owe much of their national fame to the TV show Roseanne. The sitcom featured Loose Meat Sandwiches at Roseanne and Jackie's restaurant, The Lanford Lunch Box.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Ground Beef - Fattier beef, like ground chuck, will carry more flavor but you can use lean ground beef if you want to save on calories.
- Butter - You can substitute olive oil or even bacon grease.
- Onion - I like using yellow onions best, but sweet onions are equally great to use.
- Beef broth - Beef stock works well too.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Brown Sugar
How to make it
This loose meat sandwiches recipe is incredibly simple and doesn't require much time. Brown ground beef in a large skillet, or saute pan. Break it apart into crumbles with a wooden spoon, then the onions and seasonings are added.
I enhance the rich flavor of the beef by adding Worcestershire sauce and beef broth, plus a touch of sweetness and tang from brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Though initially soupy, simply continue cooking the meat mixture until all of the liquid has evaporated. The flavor will soak into the beef.
Once the ground beef mixture has thickened up it is ready to serve. Pile meat on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings. Dill pickle slices and mustard are the traditional choices.
What to Serve with Iowa Maid-Rites?
A simple meal like this is best paired with traditional sides that you would often see at a burger joint, such as fries, onion rings, and potato chips. I would recommend any of the following recipes to serve with this delicious sandwich:
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Loose Meat Sandwich
- 8 hamburger buns
- Melt butter in saute pan over medium heat and add ground beef.
- Cook the beef until it browns and is no longer pink, breaking it up into small crumbles as it cooks.
- Drain fat from the pan and add onions, beef broth, Worcestershire, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until all liquid has evaporated.
- Use a slotted spoon to serve onto hamburger buns with dill pickles and mustard.
This recipe was originally published May 30, 2018 on FoxValleyFoodie.com.