Top Secret Recipes | Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich Recipe

Home >> Recipes >> Maid-RiteŽ >> Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich Recipe  
Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich Recipe
Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich
By Todd Wilbur

Recipe Type: Sandwich
Calories: 265
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Recipe Rating: 4.3 (53 reviews)

It's been an Iowa tradition since 1926, and today this sandwich has a huge cult following. It's similar to a traditional hamburger, but the ground beef is not formed into a patty. Instead, the lightly seasoned meat lies uncompressed on a white bun, dressed with mustard, minced onion, and dill pickles. Since the meat is loose, the sandwich is always served with a spoon for scooping up the ground beef that will inevitably fall out.
      When this clone recipe for Maid-Rite was originally posted on our Web site several years ago, it elicited more e-mail than any recipe in the sites history. Numerous Midwesterners were keyboard-ready to insist that the clone was far from accurate without the inclusion of a few bizarre ingredients, the most common of which was Coca-Cola. One letter states: "You evidently have not ever had a Maid-Rite. The secret to the Maid-Rite is coke syrup. Without it you cannot come close to the taste." Another e-mail reads: "Having lived in the Midwest all of my life and knowing not only the owners of a Maid-Rite restaurant but also many people who worked there, I can tell you that one of the things you left out of your recipe is Coca-Cola. Not a lot, just enough to keep the meat moist."
      On the flip side, I received comments such as this one from an Iowa fan who lived near Don Taylor's original Maid-Rite franchise: "The secret to the best Maid-Rite is the whole beef. Don had a butcher shop in his basement where he cut and ground all his beef. Some people still swear they added seasoning, but that is just not true. Not even pepper."
      Back in the underground lab, no matter how hard I examined the meat in the original product -- which I had shipped in dry ice directly from Don Taylor's original store in Marshalltown, Iowa -- I could not detect Coca-Cola. there's no sweetness to the meat at all, although the buns themselves seem to include some sugar when the buns are chewed with the meat, the sandwich does taste mildly sweet. I finally concluded that Coca-Cola syrup is not part of the recipe. If it is added to the meat in the Maid-Rite stores, its an insignificant amount that does not have any noticeable effect on the flavor.
      Also, the texture is important, so adding plenty of liquid to the simmering meat is crucial. This clone recipe requires 1 cup of water in addition to 1/4 cup of beef broth. By simmering the ground beef in this liquid for a couple hours the meat will tenderize and become infused with a little flavor, just like the real thing.
      When the liquid is gone, form the ground beef into a 1/2 cup measuring scoop, dump it onto the bottom of a plain hamburger bun, then add your choice of mustard, onions, and pickles. Adding ketchup is up to you, although it's not an ingredient found in Maid-Rite stores. Many say that back in the early days "hobos" would swipe the ketchup and mix it with water to make tomato soup. Free ketchup was nixed from the restaurants way back then, and the custom has been in place ever since.

Source: 'Top Secret Recipes Unlocked" by Todd Wilbur.

1 pound lean ground beef (15% fat is best)
1 cup water
Try this
Submitted on: 12/16/13
Dehydrate onion, two parts oyster sauce, one part soy sauce and definitely steam the meat.
Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich
Submitted on: 10/14/13
Well, the Bettendorf one closed. The meat quality and flavor had gone downhill from what I remember from long ago. I made my own several years ago and my family said they tasted just like the real thing. I have mustard, onion, and pickles on the counter. Just got back from the store w/1-1/2# Amana 80/20 beef. The secret is STEAMING them on low heat for hours, breaking up the meat as it cooks, don't mash the juice out. I will use one packet of W=G. Washington's Rich Brown Seasoning
Original Made-Rite
Michael Johnson  
Submitted on: 09/17/13
I grew up eating at the original Made-Rite in Marshalltown and to this day love making them more than regular hamburgers. THe secret is getting good Iowa Beef
Marsha Border  
Submitted on: 02/23/13
We too grew up on maid-rites in Nebraska it was franchised store and Jeni is correct, the packet came in silver packets without any ingredient info. She is spot on in the cooking process also. You don't precook the meat. Years ago in a popular magazine a close clone was onion soup mix but pulverizing it so no onion bits are visible I have used this method for years about the only thing that comes close simmered low and slow. 2 Tbl. Lipton onion soup mix,1/4 cup water to 1lb raw hamburger.
Galen Hiveley  
Submitted on: 01/01/13
I bought Tod's recipe and tried it. No, that's not it. Of course living in Iowa almost all my life I really know how they taste and this isn't it. It may be partially correct. I think what one other person mentioned that paprika is added, might be correct. I'm not sure on that though until I try it. They do add coke, I've watched them do it at some locations. So that's my next try, use Todd's recipe, try adding paprika to one batch, try adding coke to another and see if
Maid Rites
Frederick Nicholson  
Submitted on: 01/14/12
I live in the quad cities, (Moline illinois is one of them) have eaten Maid Rites since the 1950's. After reading all of these posts one thing is clear, no one really knows. Also there are at least 4 Maid Rites in this area, only 1 (in bettendorf Iowa) has the flavor i recognize from my childhood. So it appears to me that individual franchise owners add what they feel is good enough, probably to maximize profits. Oh well my search continues!
Not just for sandwiches
Charlee Compo  
Submitted on: 06/30/11
I'm not a burger fan but I do love the Macho Nachos that are made from the Maid-Rite meat mixture. You might want to try them. Place a couple of handfuls of round tortilla chips in your plate. To that add one large ladle of the meat mixture. Top with finely shredded lettuce, sliced green onions, finely chopped tomato and finely shredded cheddar cheese. A large dollop of salsa can be added last but you can also add sour cream. DON'T MELT THE CHEESE!
Tasted good but not the same
Robert Muller  
Submitted on: 06/28/11
We just had a Maid-Rite open in my area and this reciped was not even close. The real one had much more flavor and seasoning. Maybe this was a clone of the Taylor Maid-Rite that I heard was different.
a big hit!!!!
veronica haas  
Submitted on: 05/11/11
When I was a young girl growing up a little south of St. Paul, MN; My parents used to take us down to Cannon Falls on some nice weekends to the Maid Rite there. An older couple owned it and sometime in the late sixties or early seventies they closed, I think it was due to road improvement, and the building was torn down. So; I have always been looking to find a recipe to make these for my family, which I did today.... and they're a HUGE HIT!!!
Made rite
Submitted on: 02/06/11
This is not the same as buying one there. It tastes good but it is no made rite.
Submitted on: 09/16/08
I've lived in central Iowa most of my life and have easy access to Maid-Rites. There have been dozens of "recipes" for this sandwich. Someone who used to work in a Maid-Rite shop told me they used 7-up and flour. I don't know this is true, but the meat is very dry... no visible grease, so the flour might be a good addition.
Submitted on: 08/12/08
I just made these for the first time and we loved them! We have never had the original Maid-Rite sandwiches but hope to someday. My husband's exact words were "These are @#$%ing GREAT!" (Sorry - wanted to convey how much he loved them.) So glad I bought this one!
Submitted on: 05/30/07
I worked as an Assistant Manager for a Maidrite in Bettendorf, IA. The seasoning came in silver packet and had no ingredient list on it! You mized the packet with one gallon of water, then poured it over the raw hamburger when you put it in the steam bin. The meat cooks excruciatingly slow...several hours, and we kept a huge potato masher in the bin so we could repeatedly mash and mash and mash the meat to smithereens. All the big chunks of meat had to be broken up. People would drive from all over to have a Maidrite! And they are VERY MUCH an acquired taste!
Submitted on: 08/21/06
I live in oklahoma now but was raised in Missouri we had a maid-rite place in town so I was pretty much raised on them. I go back home a few times a year and always bug the place for the recipe or the stuff they put in them but they never would, so the last time that I was home as usual first stop was to have a maid-rite. Well later on in the weekend after many maid-rites my aunt called and said she had the recipe...I just didn't believe that was all that was in it, so after gettin back home I made it. While it was steaming I was on here looking at all the comments, and still I was thinking it just cant be..Boy was I wrong...These things are great and pretty much right on.....THANK-YOU
Submitted on: 05/19/06
In 1926, Fred Angell, a respected butcher in Muscatine, Iowa, combined a special cut and grind of meat with a selected set of spices and created the one and only Maid-Rite sandwich. As legend goes, Mr. Angell asked a delivery man, at his restaurant, to taste his newest sandwich creation. After a few bites, the taster exclaimed, "You know, Fred, this sandwich is just made right." Thus our signature sandwiches name was born. Maid-Rite has withstood the test of time for over 79 years. From our humble beginnings of a restaurant owned by a man with a dream of serving great tasting food, the sandwich that was "TOO GOOD TO BE A PATTY" was established. Maid-Rites are cooked in a delicious special seasoning in our special cut of ground beef and served on a warm home-maid bun. In addition to our signature Maid-Rite ground beef sandwiches, our delicious menu also includes such popular items as breaded tenderloins, maid-fresh-daily French fries and home-maid onion rings. Our Blue Bunny Ice Cream Shoppes serve waffle cones, hand dipped hard packed malts & shakes along with classic hot fudge, caramel, strawberry sundaes and parfaits. For true ice cream lovers, the Maid-Rite Blue Bunny Ice Cream Shoppes have specialty desserts like Chocolate Lovers Hot Fudge Brownie, MEGA size banana splits, Hot Fudge Double Mint Delights, and Cotton Candy ice cream sprinkles for kids. "Maid-Rites taste so good we'll drive 40 miles just to get one!" Penelope Swan Richmond, Missouri
Submitted on: 01/07/06
This recipe is very close to the original. My grandmother, an uncle and an aunt all worked for the Maid Rite when it was still here in town and then I later worked for the owners at their house, the only added ingredient that is not here is paprika...approx 2 tsp. One other thing I have been reading is what goes on a Maid should always be ordered with everything which is ...plain mustard, onion, and dill relish...never dill pickle!!!! And NEVER EVER should ketchup be put on a Maid Rite!!
Submitted on: 10/03/05
"One Star Kathy" should be spanked for not even trying this item........this is one of the greatest treats in the last fifty me.....
Submitted on: 09/21/05
Recipe perfect as is, but addition of dehydrated onions is good. My sister has experimented w/this, and, like a previous reviewer, uses a crock pot to make her loosemeat. You do have to mash the meat a bit in the beginning, but once done, the crock pot steams it perfectly. My sister & I make a large double/triple batch in the crock pot, eat some for dinner, freeze the rest for another quick meal. Freezes & defrosts well, tastes great reheated. We've tried both 80% & 88% ground beef, both good. We've also done a combo of 1/2 grd beef, 1/2 grd turkey. Also made this w/just all ground turkey. You may need a little bit more broth, but taste is quite good for a lower fat version.
Submitted on: 09/21/05
We found this recipe to be totally bland. Yuk!
Sherry Joyce  
Submitted on: 09/20/05
I loved this recipe because you and your guests can pick their favorite toppings. I made it according to directions except I kept thinking what is this coke syrup they keep insisting is in the recipe? The only thing that would pour out of a bottle that looked like coke syrup would be Kitchen Bouquet. My mother told me about it when I got married. It is great for rubbing on the roast for a rich dark color and flavor. So I poured a few tablespoons in the ground beef as I was just about done frying it up. Sure enough it gave it a rich brown color and flavor. Could that be the syrup that was being poured in the mix at the restaurant?
Sue H  
Submitted on: 09/20/05
Just about perfect. Lived in Iowa for years & missed these.
Submitted on: 09/18/05
This is a very tasteful sandwich the only thing I did different was put my meat between waxed paper froze it for 1 hour then cut it in squares cooked it with grilled onions and added cheese slices put the buns ontop the meat to steam and ate them...delicious this is a winner recipe...
Submitted on: 09/18/05
WELL, this sandwich orginated in Wichita, KS, and, as I have known one of the original owners (who has now passed on) I am familiar with the cooking process. It is pressure cooked, and you DO NOT use lean meat. It MUST have original mustard (like yellow French's), fried chopped onions, and dill pickle slices. And Kathy, of Sept. OBVIOUSLY have not had the samdwich. You have missed a real treat. We have people come back to Wichita, that have moved away, and the first thing most of them want is a NU-WAY.
Submitted on: 09/18/05
It is VERY close! I grew up in the midwest and worked for a Maid-Rite all through high school for spending money. Since I moved to Texas I realized how much I missed them and when i saw this I had to try it! It's closer than anything else I've tried! Thanks LOADS!
Joni Sanderson  
Submitted on: 09/16/05
I was really excited to see this recipe, I live in Beaman Iowa (all my life) only 15 miles north of Marshalltown, so when I read your recipe and story to go with it, I had to write. I am the Foodservice Director for our school district and we have been making "maid-rites" for years, only I can't print in the menu "maid-rites" we have to use the word beefburgers. Into a large kettle run by steam, we break up 100lbs of ground beef, as fine as we can get it, into hot water add 1 cup of salt and then boil the heck out of it, for about an hour and a half, stirring and breaking up with a large wire whip every 10 to 15 minutes. Thanks for running this recipe!
Submitted on: 09/16/05
In the South for the most part, if you don't order your burger differently, you automatically get one with mustard, onion, pickle, and tomato. I thought I had come up with this recipe quite originally in the late 60's just to save time. I guess everyone else was doing the same thing. This is exactly what I have been doing most of my life. It's great.
Submitted on: 09/16/05
Living in Des Moines all my life, I am very familiar to Maid Rites. This is how I have been making them for years. I used to sit at the counter and watch them cook them and the steam is what does it. If you ever get to Iowa you will find a Maid Rite in nearly all the major towns.
Submitted on: 09/16/05
I cook a lot of meals as a volunteer at a local Veterans facility. I was always looking for something different to serve. This was it. I don't add the additional salt, but always get great reviews from the veterans. It's quick and easy and delicious.
Submitted on: 09/16/05
This was my all time favorite when I went to visit my Uncle - his special twist was instead of the water/broth he would use a can of beer and a couple of teaspoons of sugar and a few good shakes of pepper - after cooking he would place the buns on the "splatter screen" over the meat to steam them then add the mustard and pickles - it is so good - either way - your choice!! If you don't have a potato masher, I use a pastry blender to get my meat real fine (works good on tuna fish and chunk chicken too!!)
Submitted on: 09/16/05
I've never had an original, but this recipe intrigued me, so I prepared it, and it was very delicious!
Submitted on: 09/16/05
I'm Iowa born and raised...I'm 60 years old and I've eaten a lot of Maid Rites.. I've made them at home for years too...I always mixed mustard and ketchup in the mixture and they taste just like the real thing to all of us...I'm real surprised to NOT find ketchup in the recipe. But I'll try it...If it's not as good as mine...I'll start selling mine as "Made Wrongs"
Submitted on: 09/16/05
I have made these for years, since I grew up on these delights every Fri night from The Maid Rite in Ottumwa, Iowa. After work, dad would stop and get a bag of them for the family and we would sit around the table and thoroughly enjoy them. I do mine in the crock pot so they are well steamed and wrap each in wax paper just like in the good ole days.
Submitted on: 09/16/05
This is the recipe I use at home, and everyone loves them! I use beef bullion in mine.
Submitted on: 09/16/05
Here in Wichita, KS, we LOVE our Nu-Way sandwiches. I've spent alot of time in Iowa too, and have many community cookbooks, with Maid-Rite recipes galore to prove it! This is a very close replica. The mustard, pickle, onion is the key (just like a great cheeseburger)! If you use good pickles it will be perfect!
Submitted on: 09/15/05
I remember these from when I was a teen-ager in Sacramento. It was our favorite place to go for the delicious loose meat sandwiches. They just kind of vanished and I often wondered what happened to them. I have always wondered how to make them and I am so very happy that you came up with the recipe. I'm now 70 and I can't wait to make them this weekend for my daughter. Thanks so much for the happy ending to my long lasting mystery of how I could make them myself.
Submitted on: 09/15/05
I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I will. It sounds exactly the way it should be made. Making sure the meat is in tiny little pieces is part of the tradition of this sandwich. Do not add ketchup to the sloppy joe mixture -- it goes on top of your sandwich AFTER it's cooked, along with any other condiments you desire. I'm 65 yrs. old, and this sandwich was around BEFORE I was born --It's awesome!!!
Carol Marol  
Submitted on: 09/15/05
I'm originally from Illinois, where we also have the Maid Rite chain. I agree with you about "no Coca Cola" in the sandwich. My dad is a retired policeman who used to frequent the restaurant at lunch. He told me the hamburger is actually steamed. So what I do is use one of those veggie steamers, brown the meat in there & use a squirt bottle to put beef broth in it. (Has to be drained occasionally.) Dad taste-tested it & said it was just like the real thing! I don't salt & pepper mine, either.
Gordon, San Antonio  
Submitted on: 09/15/05
I sure was glad to see this recipe. After being gone from the midwest for a lot of years, Maid-Rite sandwiches have been sorely missed. I will try this recipe, but just reading it makes me salivate!!
Submitted on: 09/15/05
Kathy "One Star", please do not rate a recipe if you haven't even tried it. If you had, you may know what "all the hoopla" is about.
Submitted on: 09/15/05
I have lived where the Maid-Rite has been for years in the same family and they do grind the meat in the basement. They do not add Coke nor do they serve them with Ketchup. Onion, mustard and pickle and no french fries.
Submitted on: 09/15/05
Kids loved this one, and easy! I added some Worcestershire sauce and extra beef boulion. Buttered the rolls, sprinkled a little garlic salt on them, browned them in the oven then put the meat on. Wow!
Submitted on: 09/15/05
You've got to be kidding me...what is all the hoopla over this "recipe"?? Meat, water and some beef broth....why bother?
Submitted on: 09/15/05
My neighbor worked at a local Maid-Rite in Iowa in the 70's. Back then, they used Coke syrup from a jug (which can be found in small bottles at most pharmacies near the Pepto Bysmol - it soothes an upset stomach) and chicken broth. These days, Maid-Rites use a powderized form of all the seasonings. You can use any thing sweet and something salty. Any flat soda will do. Thats it!!
Submitted on: 09/15/05
I am familiar with this recipe. I was manager at a Nu-Way store in Kansas City for 3 years. They were started around the same time as Maid-Rite in Witchita Kansas. We used only 85/15 meat also. We cooked it in a cast iron cooker using a large masher. As the meat cooked we added water to it. The steam would get all the bits from the bottom of the pan. We kept our buns in a steamer to make them moist. All we did when we scooped the meat up was add a dash of salt. We would use Mustard, Onion, and Pickle as the standard dress. People would order the sandwhich Dry, Greasy, or normal. For the dry you just squeeze out the juices. For the wet you just stir the meat in with the juice. Our cooker was on an angle with the deepest end to the back. As the orders came in we would scooop the meat from the back of the cooker and then put in on the bun. We would also drain any excess grease before we served.
Submitted on: 09/15/05
Sounds nasty, but when I tried it (because i like to try new things), it was wonderful. I also tried it with Tish's revisions. Both editions are wonderful. I never tasted the real thing, but my children and i enjoyed both fakes!
Submitted on: 09/15/05
The recipe I have is with chicken broth instead of beef broth... But the idea is still the same. The chicken broth is a favorite of my family and friends!
carol s.  
Submitted on: 09/14/05
I thought it was great, although I used more beef broth then water. Wish I could get the coke syrup. I remember at the maid rite shop here in town eating these often and saw the mysterious black (stuff) they added.
Submitted on: 09/14/05
I haven't tested your recipe yet, but I work for a local Maid-Rite restaurant! - They tell me that they quit using salt some time ago. Their "recipe" uses water (nothing about broth) and the only spice is 2 parts sugar to 1 part pepper!
janet and al  
Submitted on: 09/14/05
we like this recipe with 1/2 pkg of onion soup mix and less water, then put thin slices of raw vadalia or red onions on top with the dill pickles. Also a slice of tomato is good too.
Submitted on: 09/14/05
All looks good except our Maid-rite steams the buns and they sprinkle a mixture of Accent and salt to each sandwich after preparing. If msg bothers you, you have to ask for "no salt". They use the same "salt" on their onion rings and fries. That's why they are so good. They also use dehydrated, or rehydrated onion instead of fresh. This makes a totally different taste too.
Patricia Sitton  
Submitted on: 09/14/05
Having spent two weeks every summer in a small town called Ladora, IA not too far from Marshalltown, we would make two trips to a Maid Rite Stand. The first trip was for lunch the day after we arrived and the second was right before we left. This recipe is the same as the one my aunt gave me about 12 years ago on a trip back. I even called my aunt to ask if she knew of coca cola being used in the recipe and she did not. Great job!
Sandi McBride  
Submitted on: 09/14/05
Good grief Tish, why mess with success? This is a keeper for sure, but will leave off your "improvements"
Submitted on: 09/12/05
I made a few changes to this recipe. First, I used a package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix instead of the broth. Because of this, I increased the water by about 2/3 cup - give or take a few tablespoons. I also added a dash of MSG (Accent) just to make the flavor "pop". Near the end of the cooking time, when just about all of the liquid was gone, I placed my buns atop the meat to let them steam. Finally, I topped a 2 of the burgers with a couple slices of real American cheese. Absolutely DELICIOUS!!!! This one's a keeper for sure!