Crock Pot Iowa Maid-Rites

Loose Meat Sandwich.

If you know what this is, you must be from the Midwest.  Here in Iowa there is nothing quite like a loose meat sandwich, or Maid-Rite, as many of us grew up calling them.  This delicious sandwich with meat messily spilling over the edges of the bun is a staple for many Iowan meals.

The Maid-Rite sandwich was popularized back in 1926 by a man named Fred Angell.  He began franchising the idea and a chain of restaurants called Maid-Rite began to spread throughout Iowa.  Today one of the few original shops remains in Marshalltown, Iowa – Taylor’s Maid-Rite.  Several new shops have emerged over the years and have been grandfathered in through the franchise, but Taylor’s is one of the originals and a favorite of many long time Maid-Rite fans.

I have vivid memories of Taylor’s in Marshalltown.  I played softball in high school and our coach was a huge fan of Taylor’s Maid-Rites.   Every time we went to Marshalltown to play a game, we would drop off the freshman and JV teams and our coach and the varsity players would head over to Taylor’s to enjoy a yummy, mouth-watering loose meat sandwich.  That tells you how much he, along with many others, love these sandwiches!


MaidRite-Taylors-Interior (1)

I have a little bit of an obsession with ketchup and eat it on way more things than I should.  Much to my surprise, whenever we would go into Taylor’s there would be no ketchup on the counters.  The only way you could get ketchup was by asking and usually I would be given a hard time by the workers for asking for a bottle.  The traditional, Iowan way to eat a Maid-Rite is with onions, pickles, and mustard.  The story goes that back when the Maid-Rite restaurants first opened, hobos would come in and steal the ketchup bottles that were on the counters to make tomato soup.  The ketchup bottles were quickly nixed from the restaurants.  Most long time Maid-Rite consumers turn their noses up to ketchup saying it ruins the consistency of the meat and makes the Maid-Rite more like a sloppy joe.  I’ve heard that Taylor’s now has ketchup on their counters but many long time patrons are sometimes known to ask the servers to remove the bottles from the location where they are sitting 🙂

Growing up we ate Maid-Rites all the time, whether it was at the actual sandwich shop (we were lucky enough to have one in Mason City), my mom making her own version, or at the local fairgrounds during our county fair.  Everyone seemed to have loose meat sandwiches.  Anytime I catch the scent of a Maid-Rite it instantly transports me back to my childhood.

Here is an easy Crock Pot Maid-Rite recipe we have enjoyed in our house.  I’ve even learned to enjoy them without ketchup, using the traditional condiments of mustard, onions, and pickles 🙂 It’s easy to throw together and the crock pot takes care of the rest.  You’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip to an authentic Maid-Rite shop here in Iowa!

Here is what you’ll need on your grocery list:

**This recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people.  I give quite a generous portion on large, freshly made bakery buns so we only get about 6 servings out of it, but if you used smaller buns you could serve quite a few more people**

3 lbs Ground Beef

1 small Onion, chopped

1 Beef Bouillon Cube

1 Chicken Bouillon Cube

1  1/2 cups Water

2 tbsp Brown Sugar

2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

2 tbsp Worcerterschire Sauce

1 tbsp Soy Sauce

Large Hamburger Buns



Add the first nine ingredients to the crock pot.  Stir together to combine ingredients and break up the ground beef.

Cook on High for 4 hours. Stir occasionally to combine ingredients as they cook and to keep the beef from clumping together.  The smell that emerges from the crock pot each time you stir it is to die for!


Serve on hamburger buns…dont’ be shy, the messier it is the more authentic the sandwich!  Serve with condiments of your choice but remember the traditional condiments are pickles and mustard which I highly recommend.




221 responses to “Crock Pot Iowa Maid-Rites

  1. We used to go to the one in Greenville, OH when we lived there. The attraction was the “gum wall” at the drive through. For some reason someone started it and everyone followed. When you drove up you stuck your gum to the wall. I am sure it was less than sanitary. 🙂 But I love me a good Maid Rite—I need to make these this week!

  2. When I go to Mason CIty Iowa my home town I always go to Pro’s Shop which is an original maid rite shop back in the 20’s or 30’s don’t recall But it use to be called Shill’s Maid-rite. Still there & still delicious

  3. Four hours on high…have you ever tried leaving it for 8 hours on low?

    I grew up in Marshall County and now live in Indiana, so I’m looking forward to trying this. 🙂

  4. I have been to Marshalltown (Taylor’s) and to Waterloo’ Maidrite. I enjoy all of them. There is also one in Ankeny that serves sweet potatoe French fries that are out of this world. Yum!!!

  5. As a born and raised Marshalltownian, I look forward to using this recipe and see how closely it resembles the original. I live in northeast Iowa now and make it to Marshalltown a couple times per year. Every time I go, I hit Taylor’s around 10:30 in the morning for a late breakfast/early lunch, do my business in town, then hit Zeno’s Pizza on the way out. There’s no place like home.

    • Gathered at WC Maidrite after football games and ate them with waffle fries. We celebrated so many victories with Coach Rollinger’s teams.

  6. “Real” Taylor’s Maid-Rites are just steamed meat – the onions, mustard and pickle are placed on the bun before adding meat.

    • That’s right, just meat. Try cooking the ground beef in the micro-wave, that steams it and it is close to Taylor’s.

  7. The way we make them here in Southern Iowa is to brown the meat in chicken broth. Two ingredients and they taste just the same! 🙂

  8. I grew up a block away from Taylor’s. There are no spices in the meat which made it unique. Your crock pot recipe sounds delicious, but it is not a Taylor’s taste.

  9. Just to make sure I was’t told wrong look it up in wikapedea tne first was in Muscatine He was a butcher there and called them loose meat sandwich at first.

    • Dennis – Thanks for your comment! Yes, that is accurate! Fred Angell was the one who started the idea of the loose meat sandwich and began franchising the idea which spread rapidly through Iowa. Cliff Taylor purchased the rights to open his own store in Marshalltown. We still call them loose meat sandwiches around my house 🙂

    • The First maid-rites were made in Muscatine Iowa, I have a paper but can’t find it with the story. Can’t remember his name but he started making this sandwich and a delivery man came in and he tasted it and said that is made right. So this is what they named the sandwich.

  10. We used to have a Maid-Rite in my hometown of Seymour, Indiana. It was gone by the early 60s. I was very young so I don’t remember it well. My parents used to go there a lot.

  11. Maid-Rites (loose meats or taverns, as I’ve heard them called) are to Iowa what Runzas are to Nebraska. You won’t find them anywhere else, and if you do, they won’t be as good.

  12. Ahhh, maid rite… Love the Marshalltown one. Would always stop there before getting to Pella to visit the folks. Haven’t been for several years now. Their malts are to die for and they bring the metal blender cup with the extra left overs. Oooooo yeah~ gotta try this recipe for sure 🙂

    • Meghan – I have never halved this recipe. I would guess that if you only made a pound and a half of meat that you would not need to cook it for 4 hours. If you’re going to be around while you cook it, you could always check on it and see. Otherwise, your better bet may be to plan on a longer time of cooking…like 6-7 hours and cook it on low. My suggestion would be to make the whole thing and then freeze your leftovers. It freezes very well and then the next time you want them, all you have to do is pull it out of the freezer, thaw it out, and then warm it up when you want to eat…easy peasy!!! 🙂 Hope that helps!

  13. Nice article. I love maid rites also. There is also one on interstate 80 west at the wings truck stop. I am not sure what mile marker or exit but it is near where you turn north to go to Denison. I introduced these to one of the guys from Nebraska I worked with. He loved em.
    Thanks Debbie!

  14. I looked at your recipe, but I learned a secret recipe from a friend. Served years ago at a restaurant in Beaverdale, Iowa (Des Moines). They were called Reed burgers. Your recipe is missing 4 ingredients.

  15. Ottumwa, IA used to have a Maid-Rite, annd I liked them.
    Ottumwa also had, and still has, the original Canteen, in the alley.
    I’m telling you, they are fantastic!!
    In fact, I had one today!!!

    If you’re in Ottumwa, you really should syop and get one. You won’t regret it.

  16. my family grew up following the iowa section of the eisenhower hiway system my dad help build. we visited many maid-rite shops. and some where right next to the railroad.i wish i could remeber all the towns. am looking forward to making this recipe.

  17. I grew up in NW Iowa in Spencer where there was a Maid-Rite shop in the 1950s. It blew up and one person was killed. I then lived in Mason City where there was a shop..(Interesting that they were called shops.)
    On a recent trip up I-90 we stopped in Lamoni, IA at the Amish County Store which has a Maid Rite shop inside…. Good memories!

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  19. I was born in Newton where my parents were born and raised. Moved away when I was 3 mos old but I feel like I grew up on these. My request visiting newton was to have one every day. Now I live in Utah and lo and behold there’s a maid rite in Layton ut. I’m in heaven.

  20. I lived in Tama, IA for the first 8 years of my life and my grandmother and aunt and uncle lived in Marshalltown. Taylors was always a favorite place to go. Each time I go back, I’ve got to have one! The Big T Maid-Rite is in Toledo, IA and my niece works there! Will save the recipe for sure!

  21. Everyone from Quincy IL goes on and on about the Maid Rites there. All of us that have moved away just have to go when we get a chance to come home to go there. I move to Quincy in 1971 and Maid Rite was the place to go then, they had 2 stores when I left in 1993, but the original store was the best.

  22. We had a Maid-Rite in Keokuk Iowa where I grew up. Loved them!!!
    My father and grandfather were friends with Fred Angell from Muscatine.

  23. My Grandfather knew the recipe but in our family it died with him. He would never give it out in respect for Fred.

  24. I worked at a Maid-Rite as a teen in Fort Dodge Ia. I never tired of eating them. We cooked a lot of chicken there too, and I was off of chicken for several years. Just got sick of the smell–but never with the maid-rites! They were almost addicting.

  25. Your are not correct when you say
    the Maid-Rite in Marshalltown is the original one. The Maid-Rites are original, but the building isn’t. It was built in the late l950’s. The original one was across the street and a little to the south. It was a hole in the wall. Seven genrations of my family have eaten Marshalltown Maid-Rites at one location or the olher.
    Sharon Adams

    • Hi Sharon – I remember reading that when I researched about the history of the Maid-Rite. I had just meant the original in terms of the actual Maid-rite, not necessarily the building. It would be fun to see the original or at least pictures of it. Your family must thoroughly enjoy the Taylor Maid-Rite’s to be faithful for seven generations! I’m sure you have many stories from years of your family members eating at these locations that would be fun to hear!

  26. My first memory of Taylor’s Maid Rite in Marshalltown is stopping on our way to the state basketball tournament in Des Moines. It became a tradition that if we went through Marshalltown, we ate at Taylor’s. When my Dad passed away, I drove down on his first birthday following and ate at Taylor’s in his honor. Great memories!

  27. the Maid Rite in Quincy, IL was visited by Alton Brown from the Food Network a few years ago. He tried his best to get the owner to tell him the recipe with no success. These sandwiches are the best but I can’t wait to try your recipe and compare.

  28. I have to try these!!! i grew up in Marshalltown and seeing those pix have made me really homesick and craving a Maid Rite (I live in AZ now)!! back in the 90s we had a couple out here (same company) but it just wasn’t the same at all!! Last time I was home 3 years ago, I was in there several times and didn’t notice any kethcup on the counter. But then again I was so busy stuffing my face that I could have easily missed it lol

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  30. Thank you Debbie! I grew up not far from the original Maid Rite in Muscatine, but more often enjoyed the version put out at the livestock sale barn counter in my hometown of Columbus Junction. Loved these things. I’m just getting ready to make a double batch for my four teenage sons…they don’t last long. Thanks for the trip back down memory lane.

  31. Thank you for the recipe. We still have Maid Rites in the Iowa, Illinois Quad Cities but over the years they have lost something. They are too dry. Years ago my work mate would say, “If you’re only gonna get one, why bother?” Can’t wait to try this!

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