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Iowa Loose Meat Sandwiches


People from central Iowa know this sandwich (a simple affair of steamed ground beef topped with mustard, pickles, and onions, served on a soft hamburger bun) as a Maid-Rite, after the Maid-Rite chain that made it famous. To achieve the sandwich’s trademark loose, pebbled texture, we gently simmer 85 percent lean ground beef with water in a skillet until the beef is thoroughly cooked but not browned. We keep the flavors simple: just salt, pepper, mustard, and some sugar to enhance the beef’s subtle sweetness. Adding the onions to the beef just before serving allows them to soften slightly but still retain a crisp texture.

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Iowa Loose Meat Sandwiches 1 Picture


  • Serves 4
  • Do not substitute leaner ground beef in this recipe or the sandwich will be dry.
  • Ingredients
  • 1 pound 1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 4 hamburger buns
  • Sliced dill pickles


Adapted from


Step 1

1. Combine beef, water, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper in 10-inch skillet. Bring to simmer over medium heat, breaking up meat with spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, cover, and remove from heat; keep warm while preparing buns.

2. Spread extra mustard on bun bottoms then, using slotted spoon, mound beef mixture over top. Cap with pickles and bun tops. Serve.

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