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Easy Loose Meat Sandwich without Bread or Buns

Easy Loose Meat Sandwich without Bread or Buns
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One pot dinners are easy to get on the table for a busy cook, and this loose meat sandwich (a Maid-Rite variation) is not only easy, but healthy and delicious. The recipe includes pickles and Georgia mustard (aka mustard-based BBQ sauce) to take it over the top in flavor.

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Bowl of loose-meat skillet dinner similar to Maid-Rite without bread.
Loose meat skillet dinner (variation of Maid-Rite)

What is a Loose Meat Sandwich

Sometimes referred to as a Tavern Sandwich or a Maid-Rite, the loose meat sandwich typically consists of ground beef on a bun, mixed with sauteed onions, and sometimes topped with pickles, ketchup, mustard, and cheese. It is unlike a hamburger, because a tavern’s meat is cooked loose rather than formed into a compact patty.

Ingredients for loose-meat skillet dinner.
Ingredients for loose-meat skillet dinner.

I opt out of using bread, so my loose meat dinner is more of a one-pot skillet dinner. I do add the pickles, onions, mustard and cheese, but no ketchup. The addition of a tomato base ingredient like ketchup essentially turns it into a Sloppy Joe.

I also like to keep the onions raw and add them with the pickles for the extra crunch.

Loose Meat vs Maid-Rite vs Sloppy Joe

A loose meat sandwich (aka a Tavern sandwich) is essentially the umbrella term for a ground beef sandwich where the beef is not formed into a patty, but rather “loose”. I make mine without buns and serve it as a skillet dinner. There is a little sauce to hold the meat together, but it is not as saucy as a Sloppy Joe.

Maid-Rite is a loose meat sandwich that hails from Iowa. Since the 1920s, it has been made with sautéed (sometimes steamed) ground beef and onions, served on a bun and dressed up with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.

A Sloppy Joe is a loose meat sandwich that include a fair amount of a tomato base in the sauce that holds the beef together. It is typically more “saucy” than a Maid-Rite or a Tavern sandwich.

Substitute Ingredients in Loose Meat Sandwiches

There are many ways to make a loose meat sandwich. Because I practice a low carb diet, I don’t use buns or bread but rather make it as a skillet dinner. There are a lot of variations on this type of dinner. Here is a list of the ones I have heard of:

  • Use Hawaiian rolls for the buns (it’s a sweeter bread).
  • Include coke in the sauce (instead of water).
  • Use Velveeta or other melting cheeses.
  • Add cream of mushroom soup.
  • Replace the water with chicken broth
  • Add a packet of powdered onion soup mix

Loose-meat (aka Maid-Rite) Skillet Dinner

Bowl of loose-meat skillet dinner similar to Maid-Rite without bread.
This is an easy variation on a Maid-Rite sandwich without the bread. It is a great low carb dinner that comes together fast and adds flavor with pickles and Georgia mustard (a BBQ sauce with mustard as the main ingredient)
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 347


  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Lb. ground beef
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 Cup Georgia mustard any BBQ sauce with a mustard base
  • ¼ Cup yellow mustard
  • ¼ – ½ Cup water
  • ½ -1 Cup cheese I used asiago cheese. My husband likes Velveeta!
  • ½ Cup chopped pickles I used cornichons for extra pickle flavor
  • 1 onion chopped (used raw)


  • Cook ground beef in oil over medium-high heat, breaking apart as it cooks. Cook until no longer pink (about 5 minutes)
  • Add salt, mustards and water and stir together until combined. Add cheese and cook until melted in.
  • Add pickles and raw onions and stir together (you are not cooking the pickles and onions, just combining the mixture)
  • Serve in a bowl if you are low carb. Serve on a piece of toast if not.


Calories: 347kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 17gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 1273mgPotassium: 454mgFiber: 2gSugar: 13gVitamin A: -17IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: -45mgIron: 3mg
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