Loose Meat Sandwiches

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Loose Meat Sandwiches are flavorful Midwestern chopped meat burgers made with seasoned beef, Worcestershire sauce and onion, topped with dill pickles.

While my Ultimate Sloppy Joes will always have a place in my heart, this nostalgic twist is a must try. Don’t let the lack of sloppy sauce fool you, this Loose Meat Burger is just as flavorful as any of my Sandwich Recipes.

Loose Meat Sandwich


Loose Meat Sandwiches are walk down memory lane, known by different names all over the Midwest. You might recognize them as the Maid-Rite, Tavern Sandwich, or the Tastee. Most notably you may remember these Sloppy Joe cousins from a little tv show called Roseanne.

Inspired by a real restaurant, the Canteen Lunch, Roseanne’s Lanford Lunch Box (in the original series) was known for their Loose Meat Sandwiches. More recently, trying different Loose Meat Sandwiches was featured on the tv show The Goodwife as a campaign strategy.

A version of these seasoned loose ground beef hamburgers has been around for almost a 100 years. Fred Angell featuring them on his menu as a Loose Meat Sandwich at the flagship Maid-Rite restaurant in 1926, and they’ve been all over the Midwest since. After you try this recipe, it’s easy to see why!

What sets these sandwiches apart from Sloppy Joes is the lack of a thick sauce that’s usually tomato based (unless you get as adventurous as I do with Sloppy Joe Recipes). They are just as flavorful with sautéed yellow onion and Worcestershire Sauce, just a bit more crumbly.

For a traditional Loose Meat Sandwich, simply spoon your seasoned ground beef mixture on a bottom hamburger bun, top with thick dill pickles and the other bun half. Tavern Sandwich versions include all your regular burger condiments like ketchup, yellow mustard, and mayonnaise.



  • Sear the beef with onions: Break apart the beef into larger chunks and cook along with the onions.
  • Add Seasonings: Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
  • Serve with pickles: Top with pickles for the classic variety or top with additional toppings of your choosing.

pan of ground beef for loose meat sandwiches


  • Loose Coney: Serve (almost) like they do in Detroit by topping a hot dog with Coney Sauce (no bean beef chili) and the Loose Meat. My Tommy’s Chili is great substitute for Coney Sauce, especially if you add nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon.
  • Seasonings: Instead of Worcestershire sauce, you can substitute soy sauce or beef broth. Add spices like garlic powder, paprika, or Taco Seasoning for even more flavor.
  • Toppings: Use hamburger condiments like ketchup and yellow mustard, or top like you do on any of your favorite burgers. Adding BBQ sauce, American cheese, and crispy bacon is one of our family favorites.
  • Meat: For a lighter version, use lean ground beef or substitute ground turkey or chicken. Go meatless by using veggie meat crumbles, usually found in the freezer section.

Slow Cooker Loose Meat Sandwiches

Brown ground beef and onions in a skillet and add to your slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and set slow cooker on low for 2 to 3 hours. Serve on hamburger buns with dill pickles or any of your favorite toppings.


  • What is the difference between a maid rite and a sloppy joe? Maid Rite sandwiches, aka Loose Meat Sandwiches, are not made with a thick sauce like Sloppy Joes.
  • What is a loose Coney? A Loose Coney is variation of a signature Detroit style hot dog known as a Coney. It has all the toppings of regular Coney, plus cheese and loose meat.
  • What is tavern meat? Tavern Meat is yet another name is for the Loose Meat Sandwich. It originates in Iowa and has been a regional dish for almost 100 years. Once difference is its served open faced on hamburger buns.



  • Serve: You will need to store your ground beef after 2 hours at room temperature.
  • Store: Bring your meat to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.
  • Freeze: This meat freezes really well for up to 3 months! Always cool completely before storing in a freezer bag.

Loose Meat Sandwiches on hamburger bun with pickles

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Loose Meat Sandwiches

Loose Meat Sandwiches are flavorful Midwestern loose meat burgers made with seasoned ground beef, Worcestershire sauce and onion, topped with dill pickles.
Yield 6
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef , (85/15)
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • hamburger dill pickles
  • 6 plain hamburger buns


  • Add the vegetable oil, ground beef and onion to large skillet on medium high heat.
  • Break the meat apart and continue cooking until the onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper, garlic, Worcestershire and mustard and stir well to combine.
  • Serve on hamburger bun topped with pickles.



Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 439mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 4mg

Loose Meat Sandwiches collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. In my teenage years during the 60s, I worked at an outdoor restaurant as a “car hop” in Phoenix AZ. The loose meat “zip burger” was one of the most popular burgers there. Not until now have I found a a recipe that even comes close. This loose meat sandwich is delicious and very much like the one made at that restaurant many years ago. Thank you for sharing

    1. I love hearing stories like yours. You’re welcome Lou and thanks for the five star rating.

  2. Wonderful loose meat sandwiches!!! Easy & quick. Saving this recipe for sure! Making this for future potlucks in slow cooker!
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Delicious sandwich. Love the combo mustard and worcestershire sauce in just about anything. This was enjoyed by everyone. Thank you.

  4. This is the same recipe my father used when I was a child. Have tried other recipes, but not the same as Dad’s was. Love it. Thanks you so much.

  5. I used to get these at Maid-Rites in Greenville, OH and the smaller tavern ones at the White Front in Indianapolis. I heard they used beer instead of water and mucho black pepper. Thanks for bringing these to my attention. I’ll make some tonight. No such critter here in Alabama!

  6. I LOVE THIS SANDWICH!! Oh so delicious and way better than a sloppy joe. I’ve made them twice so far and will definitely make it many more times!!

  7. I love, love, love, this sandwhich, i tried it when i was in Nebrask . Thanks for sharing, now i have the recipe

  8. I always saw this prepared by boiling the ground beef till it was cooked very fine-not as chunks. Is this maybe a short cut version?

  9. I grew up with a recipe very, very similar to this that we called Steam Burgers. We used dehydrated onion instead of fresh, we added celery salt, pepper was to taste, garlic was powdered if the cook even used it, and we added a couple of shakes of chili powder. Not enough to actually be able to taste it, but just as an additive. Once it cooked down to small bits and most moisture was cooked away, we added just enough instant potato flakes to thicken it a little and help it from just falling out of the bun, not enough to be pasty. Left over meat could be turned into taco meat, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes or could be used in a casserole. To this day we still make it, and always in farely large quantities when we do.

  10. Lovely idea and so tasty the pickles definitely make the bite perfection. Everyone at home loved it. Perfect weekly dinner to feed a crowd too.

  11. These were so good! I have made sloppy joes but never these. I will be making them again. The whole family loved them.