Maid Rite Recipe Loose Meat Sandwiches + Video

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Use our Maid Rite recipe to create a loose meat sandwich that tastes just like the restaurant original! Each ground beef sandwich may look like a sloppy joe, but it tastes nothing like one. The flavor is so much better, and with our recipe, you can make them at home!!

maid rites loose meat sandwich with ketchup and pickles


This loose meat sandwich recipe may seem simple, but trust me — there’s something special about these sandwiches. They’re easy to make and irresistibly scrumptious! 

There’s nothing like homemade maid-rite sandwiches. That brown ground beef, in between soft hamburger buns, will dill pickle slices…so good!

This recipe is perfect for busy nights and a great way to bring a fun and unique flavor to your kitchen. 

raw meat in crockpot

Maid Rite Recipe

If you live in the Midwest, you may already be familiar with Iowa’s famous Maid-Rite restaurant franchise. 

They’re best known for their loose meat sandwich —  perfectly seasoned ground beef served on a warm, slightly sweet bun with pickles and diced onion. 

My husband and his family grew up enjoying the Maid Rite sandwich, so I wanted to create a homemade version. 

After a lot of trial and error, I came up with this crockpot loose meat sandwich recipe. Trust me, this one is a keeper!!

For a delicious twist on a ground beef sandwich, make a batch of burger bombs. They’re made with frozen dinner roll dough — the perfect game-day food!

You can also cut down on some of the fat content of this loose ground beef recipe, and use lean ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground chicken.

All will create a great recipe that will pair perfectly with your favorite buns. 

cooking ground beef in crock pot

How to Make a Maid Rite Sandwich

At the restaurant, the ground beef is prepared in very large pots. But for this recipe, you’ll be using a crock pot.


Watch the video in this post to see us make this Maid Rite recipe from start to finish!

  1. Slow cook the ground beef. 

    Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, then cover and cook on High for 1 hour. 

    Remove the lid, then continue cooking for 2-3 hours, or until most of the liquid is gone.
  2. Assemble the sandwich.

    The classic Maid Rite sandwich is served on a steamed bun. If you have a steamer, you can use that. Otherwise, warm or toast the buns.

    Scoop the seasoned ground beef onto the bread. Use a slotted spoon, otherwise the liquid will make the buns too soggy.
  3. Add your favorite toppings.

    At Maid-Rite, you can order a “Cheese-Rite,” which is the original loose meat sandwich topped with cheddar cheese, onion, and pickles. 

    Other popular toppings at the restaurant are jalapenos, BBQ sauce, and cheddar cheese sauce.
ground beef in crockpot

Serving Suggestions

Pair this Maid Rite recipe with any of your favorite cookout or picnic side dishes. 

You can’t go wrong with a side of corn (which Iowa is also famous for) or a side of French fries.

If you’re feeding a crowd, skip the fries and whip up some potato salad or crockpot baked beans with bacon instead.

Loose Meat Sandwich Recipe FAQ

What is the difference between a Sloppy Joe and a loose meat sandwich? 

While both are made with seasoned ground beef, Sloppy Joes feature a rich tomato-based sauce. 

The meat mixture is slightly sweet and often enjoyed without additional toppings.

Loose meat sandwiches like Maid Rites, on the other hand, have no sauce at all. The meat has a bold beefy flavor, and the sandwich comes with pickles and diced onion on top.

Can I add other toppings for a fun twist?

You should totally add your favorite burger toppings! I’ll sometimes add a slice of American cheese, and extra dill pickle chips to mine, because why not? The more toppings means that you’re adding tons of flavor. 

A slice of cheese might not be typical of the Maid Rite name, but that’s fine—it’s your recipe. You can also change up this copycat recipe by adding diced yellow or white onions, soy sauce or yellow mustard, or sweet pickles instead of dill pickles—the sky is the limit. 

How do you reheat Maid Rite sandwiches? 

Allow the meat to cool, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend storing the assembled sandwiches, because the buns will become soggy.

Reheat the meat in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop, adding a splash of liquid as needed to keep the meat moist.

Prep Ahead Instructions

This Maid Rite recipe is perfect for meal prep! Toss everything in the crockpot and let it cook for a few hours while you go about your day.

If needed, you could also cook the meat ahead of time and reheat it later. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

2 maid rites loose meat sandwiches on serving tray with ketchup

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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close up: ground beef, pickles, ketchup on toasted bun

Other Easy Crockpot Sandwich Recipes

maid rite sandwich with pickles onion and ketchup

Maid Rite Recipe Loose Meat Sandwiches + Video

Donna Elick
Use our Maid Rite recipe to create a loose meat sandwich that tastes just like the restaurant original! Maid Rites are a childhood favorite.
5 stars from 8 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Slow Cooker
Servings 8


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium beef base, or a bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium chicken base, or a bouillon cube
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 pounds lean ground beef

For Serving

  • 8 hamburger buns

Optional Toppings

  • cheese
  • pickles
  • diced onion
  • ketchup


  • Set slow cooker to high.  Add all ingredients except ground beef and stir to combine. Add beef and stir again; be sure beef is completely coated.
  • Cover slow cooker and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to break up ground beef. 
    After 1 hour of cook time, remove lid and continue cooking on high for 2 ½ – 3 hours, until most of the liquid has cooked off.  Continue to stir occasionally and break up any chunks of beef.
  • Using a slotted spoon, serve a heaping spoonful on a warm bun and load it up with your favorite toppings.  We love cheese, ketchup and pickles!
  • Serve and enjoy!


Donna’s Notes

  • To make this recipe JUST like the Maid Rite restaurant does, steam the hamburger buns before you load them up with loose meat.


Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 373cal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 106mg | Sodium: 574mg | Sugar: 7g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 6mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): maid rites loose meat sandwich close up

Originally published April 2014, updated and republished June 2024

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  1. With the new cooker, Instant Pot, is there a version of Maid Rite loose meat for that cooker? I have an Instant Pot and everything that comes out of that is so tasty and full of flavor, and cooking time is cut down drastically! Any suggestions??

  2. I see pointless comments here about ketchup and Made-Rite vs sloppy joe.

    The distinction is cooking vs. eating. Condiments used for eating are secondary to what happens to the meat depending on how it's cooked.

    Ask any Chicagoan about ketchup on Chicago-style hot dogs – you'll get the same argument. But hot dogs cook dramatically differently than ground beef (and no, I don't put ketchup on hot dogs).

    I'm an Ohio native but I lived in Iowa City for 14 years. The difference between a Made-Rite and a normal hamburger is more important than the difference between a Made-Rite and sloppy joe.

    I cook my sloppy joe "Made-Rite style", which means to cook the ground beef slowly, crumbing it as it cooks, so that by the time it's all browned through, it's also completely loosely crumbed. And, by the way, once its browned through and completely crumbed, it's also completely cooked.

    The root beer syrup, or Coca-Cola, are acids that improving crumbing of the meat.

    Steaming would work as a commercial-level alternative, since steaming heats the meat more uniformly and thus fosters crumbing better. I don't steam, though – I stir continually over very low heat, breaking up the meat with the edge of a spatula to brown it through evenly as it crumbs.

    I use the "Made-Rite" cooking method also for Italian meat sauces for pasta dishes. I don't like chunks in what should be meat _sauce_.

    I have two CrockPots: a slow cooker, and a pressure cooker (CP Express). When I do meat sauces for pasta, I always saute' the meat first so I can crumb it Made-Rite style.

    When ground beef is not crumbed as it cooks, one has to try to crumb it after the fact, when doesn't work well, for a reason: once ground beef cooks as chunks, uncrumbed, the juices dry out so as to effectively "glue" the meat into chunks. Breaking up such chunks after browns isn't the same as crumbing the meat as it browns. Slow crumbing ground beef has a much finer "grain" than is possible in my experrience otherwise.

    My younger sister, who likes to cook, refuses to learn the Made-Rite method I use, for her pasta dishes, so her ground beef is always full of big chunks, … and loose tomato sauce.

    My sloppy joe doesn't have loose tomato sauce in it, nor does it have loose tomato sauce. The tomato sauce (which I add after crumbing/browning) is typically a small can of Contadina paste with italian herbs – and I brown/crumb in Worcestershire sauce (which my grandmother also always did). The WS goes in first thing (it helps with crumbing by distributing heat), the paste is added only after browning/crumbing. But that makes the difference between Made-Rite and sloppy joe a very minor difference.

  3. I think they taste amazing. I Have it on warm in the crockpot as I type this. I did however cook mine a tad bit on the stove with the onion, beef and chicken flavoring before I put it in the crock pot. I am from Iowa, and I don’t think my husband and kids have ever had a loose meat sandwich.. I’m super excited to have them try this version since I now live in Wisconsin and there isn’t a sandwich like it around here! Thanks for the recipe! This will be great for parties as well!

    1. My mom ran a MaidRite shop. The hamburger was a fine grind to start with. It was cooked in a slanting cast iron cooker built into the counter next to the grill. The addition of vinegar and sugar is new to me since the seasoning came from MaidRite and it was a secret recipe. We lived in Mn and once the shop closed, no more Maid Rite. The franchise originated in Iowa in 1929. There may be two left in Mn. You started out with bun swabbed with mustard and chopped onion on top of the bottom. You added the seasoned cooked beef, shook the bun to pack it down, and repeated that two or three times, pickles on top. Then put the top on and wrapped it in a red and white paper. No ketchup unless you added it. In the 60’s they were 4 for a buck. At that time there were no other menu varieties with toppings. At age 76 I still crave them. We go through Iowa and always stop at an existing shop. Brings back memories. They were great!

      1. 5 stars
        Thanks for giving the authentic version!! I had always heard mustard and pickle, but the onion makes a lot of sense, Never had a real one, but will be making this version!

      2. In my humble opinion, crumbled ground beef + ketchup = Sloppy Joe. Crumbled ground beef + mustard = Maid Rite. Pickles and onions are part of both recipes.

  4. Thank you for the recipe. I followed exactly. It smelled delicious through the cooking process, and everyone loved it . We have never had a maid rite sandwich so we were not concerned with it being a close match or replica to anything Out of curiosity we looked up their menu and it lists a variety of toppings they serve so some of the above comments seem really unnecessary and yes ketchup is served as an option for these sandwiches according to the maid rite menu . It was very tasty , again thank you for the recipe.

    1. I have issues with the taste of ACV. can I leave it out of the recipe and still have a decent Maid Rite?

  5. I attended college in Centerville, Iowa from 1957-59. There was a Maid-rite there, which was owned by Jean and Sol Kozlarich. I remember seeing Jean putting frozen packages of ground beef into the cooker, and occasionally stirring the meat as it cooked. The meat cooked by steam, mostly; because there was a lid which covered the cooker.

    Today, I live in Davenport, Iowa, and there is a Maid-rite about 2 miles from me. I think I need to pay them a visit and get a Maid-rite to renew my appreciation for what I always thought was a great sandwich.

  6. This is an amazing recipe! Unbelievably close to the Maid-Rites that my husband loves. We use dill pickle chips and mustard to make these sammies shine. So easy and delicious. YASSSSSS! Thank you for this awesome recipe.

  7. No self-respecting Iowan would ever put ketchup on a maid-rite…. but I do appreciate this take on the recipe.

    1. I say, to each their own, Kim. One of the perks of living in our great country is being able to “just say no”. 🙂
      TSRI Team member, Becca.

    2. I lived in Iowa the first 18 years of my life and always put ketchup on it. No onion, no mustard. But thanks for your value judgement.

    1. Hi Pam,
      We are so happy to hear that! Thank you for the star rating, we appreciate it! Have a great day!
      TSRI Team Member,

  8. Such a good recipe! So easy and tasty, very very similar to the actual Maid Rite!! I share this recipe all the time. Don’t worry about making a large batch, if there’s leftovers they are great to freeze and break out later as you wish. I love this with toasted brioche buns, ketchup, mustard and dill pickles. Nom!!!

  9. Ok, gotta say! My husband of 33 years is an Iowegian and he loves MaidRites. So I made this recipe last year, maybe year before….who can remember life dates since COVID hit us.
    Anyway, he loved this recipe and I have been trying for 33 years to duplicate what he likes. I miss our MaidRite restuarnat here in LaCrosse, WI., where I could get a MaidRite for 35 cents at lunch break from Logan High School….but we do enjoy your recipe and really, mustard and pickles, raw onions, all the way.
    When my Mom passed away a few years ago and I was so sad. I went and had a MaidRite and a vanilla coke from the Sweet Shop next door, across from our church, St. James. It truly was my comfort food that day.
    Thank you for this recipe

  10. OK I’ve never had one of these let me start off with that. I started the process at 1:30 and just got done having one it’s now 5:30 whatever the flavor is it’s very subtle most of the flavor came from the mustard and pickle on the bun. I guess I’m curious what is a taste supposed to be like and what’s the allure of the sandwich? I did wrap it with wax paper to try to keep the meat in the bun also.

  11. Fabulous and close to me tastes almost exactly like the original, though I do load up with extra dried onion. Close enough to the original that I would call it the same. Take it up another notch by toasting up a brioche bun. Heaven…

  12. 5 stars
    omg, made this today! The Maid Rite recipe from The Slow Roasted Italian website is absolutely amazing. So easy and delish!

  13. 5 stars
    I’m not sure if the sandwiches I ate at a bar in Rock Island, Illinois in 1967 was a Maid-Rite or not. I am from South Carolina and ate those loose meat sandwiches everyday for 3 months before having to go back home and haven’t had one since but I thought they were the best thing ever. I made these with your recipe on the stove and they were good but not sure if they tasted the same because at 76 now nothing tastes the way it used to. I can’t remember if the onions were cooked with the meat or added raw and don’t remember any condiments just that it was a unique flavor and I loved them Anyway, thank you so much for the memories and btw, I served mine on toasted slider buns with mustard.

  14. 5 stars
    donna’s maid rite recipe is a lifesaver! i added a bit of garlic powder for extra flavor, and it turned out fantastic.

  15. 5 stars
    This recipe is a keeper! The Maid Rite loose meat sandwich by Donna and Chad is a total hit at our house. Tastes just like the restaurant version.

  16. 5 stars
    Neither my husband or I have ever had a loose meat sandwich. I made the recipe exactly as written, and we absolutely loved it. We are having repeats tonight and the rest will go into the freezer.

  17. I grew up on Maidrites in the 60s and 70s — and would kill for one right now. However, I never remember having ketchup on one — only mustand and dill slices! and grease! yum!!!!! I live near Springfield, MO, and the closest Maidrite is 100 miles away! I’m trying your recipe tonight! Thanks.

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