Slow Cooker Loose Meat Sandwiches Recipe

Loose meat sandwiches are sort of a "grown up" version of Sloppy Joes. 

These are delicious, savory, ground meat (can be beef, lamb, turkey, or chicken) sandwiches that aren't loaded down in sauce and glop. 

They are fantastic to serve at a football or any other sort of sports day get together!

I am such a dork that I didn't realize that yesterday was the Super Bowl until Saturday afternoon. 

I knew it was coming, but in my head I thought there were still a few weeks to go. Because of this, I didn't plan any Super Bowl food---

in fact, on Friday when I woke up feeling kind of sluggish and I'm-coming-down-with-a-cold like, I decided that I was going to eat raw for the next three days. 

And when I watched my DVR'd Oprah, and it was on "going vegan" for a week, it seemed like A SIGN that I should really do it. 

So I plopped the baby in the stroller and we walked to the local produce market and bought pretty much everything in sight 

(at least we must have, according to my receipt. DUDE. eating that way costs bank.) 

Anyway. I came home and made a delightful smoothie of pear, mango, clementine oranges, apple, banana, and kale (and then a bit of water to get it to smoothie-cize). 

It was actually pretty good.

and I was all geared up to eat/drink nothing but this concoction for the next three days.

You see where I'm going with all this.... right?


I lasted until about 1/4 through the game and then succumbed to Adam's "Super Nachos" (essentially a few chips loaded with 8 million pounds of cheese, guacamole, and sour cream).

oh well.

I don't really have a segue from that story to this recipe. 

The first time I heard of Loose Meat Sandwiches was on the Roseanne television show back in the 90s. 

I forgot all about them until our family friend, Harvey, asked if I had ever made them in the crockpot. 

When I said I hadn't he told me that they'd work great.

Harvey was right!

The Ingredients.
serves 8

these are the ingredients used to make loose meat sandwiches. Great super easy crockpot slow cooker recipe.

1 pound extra lean ground beef or turkey (the lean is more imp. than the type)
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups beef broth
8 hamburger buns (I used gluten free bread, toasted)
traditional hamburger fixen's (pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, etc)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. 

Crumble in the ground meat (it needs to be thawed, or it'll cook in a big clump). 

Add onion, sugar, spices, mustard, and vinegar. 

Pour in the beef broth. 

Mix well until everything is fully incorporated---you may want to use your hands. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. 

Stir well before serving by scooping with a slotted spoons onto hamburger buns. 

Top with your desired fixings.

The Verdict.

The meat is juicy and tender with a slight tang from the pickle and mustard. 

It doesn't taste salty as much as savory---which I was worried about. I've had hamburger-with-gravy sandwiches before and didn't really care for them, but this is not that. 

The kids loved their dinner, and Adam ate 1 1/2 sandwiches. 

I served the leftover meat over mashed potatoes with frozen peas the next night.

Thank you for picking out a winner, Harvey!

2008 flashback:

Made easily in the crockpot slow cooker, Loose Meat Sandwiches are a bit like a "grown up" version of Sloppy Joes. Seasoned with vinegar, mustard, and garlic they are not saucy and gloppy but beautifully savory and delicious! Naturally gluten free -- serve on toasted bread or hamburger buns.

Do you love this recipe?

Please share it with your friends!

Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at July 14, 2019

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What they say about this recipe

  1. lol, nachos are a bad influence for me when i try to go vegan, too. you can eat vegan cheaply though. just not without planning ahead. i got thrown into it my an illness a couple weeks ago and it was tough. but, for instance, vegan "ground beef" substitute costs me about $2 to make 4 pound equivalent batches (out of lentils, brown rice, oats and spices). cheap. way cheaper than the store-bought "beef," which runs about $5-6 a "pound"/bag.

    Kristi @
    Veggie Converter

  2. Anonymous2/07/2011

    How funny! I also thought of Roseanne when I read your post's title!

  3. Yum, sounds great! thank you!

  4. I'll have to try this one! I make a similar recipe -we call them Maid Rite sandwiches (though it's my own twist on the restaurant ones)- in a batch-cook on the stove top and freeze in meal-sized portions for busy evenings - I bet this would be great for that method too (but still crock-ed). I'm a last-minute meal person, so cooked meat in my freezer is my lifesaver! Printing this now! Thanks!

  5. Lilith2/07/2011

    I always think of Roseanne when I hear Loose Meat Sandwiches! LOL!

  6. Oh my gosh. I can't even tell you how happy I am to see this recipe. I love a Maid Rite, and I've moved away from the mid-west. Thanks bunches!!

  7. I thought of Roseanne too! Def going On my meal Plan for next week!

  8. So, you don't cook the beef prior to putting it in the crock pot?

  9. If it wasn't for Roseanne, probably no one outside of Iowa would have every heard of loose meat sandwiches. I think she even had a restaurant with Tom at one point that sold these sandwiches. I've made them before, but not slow-cooked. The sugar is an interesting ingredient and gives them a hint of a sweet which is kind of unexpected in a meat sandwich.

  10. Anonymous2/08/2011

    The only time I have ever heard of loose meat sandwiches was on Roseanne. I had no clue what they were. This recipe looks good. Sort of like sloppy joes with a twist. I am sure my husband would love these. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Anonymous2/08/2011

    Looking forward to trying guys love sloppy joe's so it will be nice to have a non-tomato version.
    Random do you blend your smoothies? Do you have a juicer, super mega-blender or what? Been looking at all the options and can't decide what to buy!


  12. You are too funny. Gosh forgetting the Super Bowl around here would be worse than forgetting someone's birthday. But you're so much fun all is forgiven. I love your directions for this meal. You must have a camera on my crockpot when I toss in frozen ground beef. :-)

  13. I don't remember Roseanne and the loose meat sandwiches, but they sound kind of like a sloppy joe type thing, which we love. :-) I though the Oprah show was a disservice to those who eat vegan and eat real food, but if it got you making a smoothie, Steph, I'm impressed! LOL


  14. soooo, they're like sloppy joes, sort of? sounds yummy!!!

  15. It looks like a delicious sandwich for an early cold morning...easy to prepare......

  16. This is AWESOME! Mostly because I have everything on hand to make these this week! Thank you! I've been recovering from a cold and am still wanting to take it easy. Can't wait to try this!

  17. Anonymous2/08/2011

    I can not wait to try this! I recently found your blog and am so excited because I use my slow cooker several times a week and am always searching for new recipes.
    I am posting your link on my blog under awards.
    Have a great week!

  18. What could I substitute if i don't have cider vinegar? snowy day here and can't get out. Hope I have beef broth too. We always have chicken broth. These look sooo good!

  19. Oh, please do some good vegan recipes! I decided to do it for a month ( before Oprah) and need some good ideas! And the crock pot is so perfect for beans. Basically I just want you to do the leg work for me. And then do another cookbook!

  20. Made this last night and it was a big hit! thank you.

  21. Could I use white wine vine vinegar instead? Would save me a trip to the store but still want the recipe to work.

  22. hi MonkeMama, sure! you'll get the same tangy flavor.

  23. Anonymous2/10/2011

    Made this tonight and it was a BIG disappointment. Followed the recipe exactly. Don't know what happened.

  24. I did a double batch for a group of hungry teens last night along with the famous potluck beans. great meal, everyone was happy.
    thank you.

  25. Anonymous2/11/2011

    Made this tonight/today for supper.. Love it.. Not sure how you eat it without the bun falling apart though. I had quite a bit of liquid still, but I figured there would be since the slotted spoon was mentioned as being a necessity. :D

  26. I tried the recipe yesterday but I have trouble eating the beef because it is running out of the bread every time I take a bite so I end up spooning. But I just love the taste super especially when it blends with the toasted bread..

  27. Hi Stephanie, found your blog via a link from Debbie's site this weekend. I wanted to say "thanks" for so many amazing recipes. I'm on a healthy path to losing weight, and I can absolutely incorporate some of your meals into my weekly plans. I'll also be seeking out your book!! Have a good rest of the weekend.

  28. Anonymous2/13/2011

    Oooh, I have a pound of lean ground beef putting a hole in my freezer as it begs to be cooked. This has potential. :)

  29. I think it's funny. I grew up in Iowa where we called them "maid rites" (based on the name of the restaurant.
    Then I moved to Nebraska where I have heard them called "loose meat", "Tastees" (after another restaurant) and "Taverns" (because apparently they serve them in taverns here. :)

  30. With mustard these tasted like burgers from Krystal!

  31. Anonymous3/04/2011

    Making these for supper tonight. I have been drooling since 11 am.

  32. I made this tonight with deer burger - that I shot myself :). It was fantastic! Everyone loved it and I can't wait to double or triple it to feed a crowd!

  33. I've seen various loose meat sandwich recipes and they always vary of course, but all look delicious in their own right. I just love how the bread seems to overflow with meat! And the cheese... just divine.

  34. I tried this last night. Tasty, thanks! But... I think my slow cooker is hotter than yours. I set it for 10hrs & left it overnight.... when I woke, it has turned into a shallow meatloaf, pulled in 1/2" from the edges, with edges pretty badly burnt. As what was left was tasty, if a bit dry, I spooned out the unburnt 90% (occupycrockpot?) & warmed/lightly simmered it for a few minutes with about a half cup of water and a half can of coconut milk. The results were quite tasty, though... not particularly pretty. Looked quite a bit like grape nuts as hot cereal. I ate it over a sweet potato & steamed green beans. Healthy & tasty, but... not pretty. Possibly I smushed all the ingredients together too much in addition to the overcooking?

    Anyhow, thought you'd be amused. Though I suppose it's impossible not to improve most any recipe via coconut milk. :)

  35. I found this really bland :( I drained all of the liquid and added all of the flavorings back in but doubled them and I think I sort of saved it. Not a keeper, but thank you for the recipe! I love your blog and I've found so many amazing recipes!

  36. We have made this recipe for over 2 years it is a favorite in our house. Thank you so much for posting this.

  37. I worked at Maid-Rite as a youth, so I added 4 ounces of Mexican Coca-Cola (made with cane sugar) and 2 tablespoons of Paprika. Brings back great memories. YUM

  38. The restaurant that inspired Roseanne's loose meat sandwich was as Jackie said " from a truck stop in Iowa" it's called Ross'. The Ross burger/magic mountain is that places legacy. The mountain makes me sick but I loooove a good Ross burger!