Loose meats

Maid Rites, Taverns, Charlie Boy, Sloppy Joes, Loose meats…

Depending on what part of the country you live in, all of these words essentially mean the same thing… ground beef on a bun. Now how they differ is what is in that ground beef. Some of them have a tomato base sauce, others no sauce, just spices.

If you are from Iowa, Sioux City in particular, I am pray sure you have heard of a Sioux City staple and one of my favorite places to grab a loose meat….

Growing up, Fred and I loved going to Tastee Inn and Out. The fact that there was no inside seating and you had to order through their drive-thru or walk-up window just added to the appeal. Our trips there didn’t happen very often, but when they did, it was amazing.

The loose meats were out of this world, and you couldn’t go to Tastee’s without getting their onion chips and creamy onion dip.  a.k.a Heart attack waiting to happen.

Two years ago, my friend Michelle passed along a copycat version of Tastee’s loose meats.

And for two years it sat in my recipe book just waiting to be used.

Finally the time arrived.

After I dusted off the recipe card, I got to work.

There are a couple of important details to this recipe.

One. The onions need to be minced into the smallest pieces possible.

Two.  Be sure to cook the onions with the ground beef so that the onion flavors can seep into the meat.

Three. You want to be sure to break up the meat into the smallest crumbles possible.

Four (okay more than a couple of important details). You cannot forget the sugar.

I was skeptical at first too. But trust me on this one.

Be sure to simmer the meat long enough so the water cooks out.

Jake and I love fresh baked buns from the bakery. A very handy tip when using buns that look more like a ball than a bun, is to tear out some of the bread in the bottom half.

Leaving a hole like this allows the meat to fit nicely inside so it stays inside the bun rather than falling out.

Add some ketchup, mustard and pickles and you are good to go.

Tastee Inn and Out Loose meats


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Heat skillet on stove.
  2. Mince onion as fine as possible.
  3. Cook ground beef, salt and onion in skillet. Break up ground beef with the back of a wooden spoon into the smallest crumbles possible.
  4. When the beef is browned, drain off any excess fat.
  5. Add mustard, vinegar, sugar and 1/4 cup water.
  6. Simmer meeat until the water is cooked out, 15-20 minutes.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve on bun of your choice. Top with ketchup, mustard and pickles.

What type of ground beef sandwich do you prefer? 


2 thoughts on “Loose meats

  1. We have moved from Sioux City, to Newport Beach, to now Austin, TX. My son was so happy to finally get Tastees again. Thanks!

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