Homemade Taverns Recipe (2024)



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Taverns. The basic, frugal little, unassuming sandwich that you probably haven’t made yet. Why should you try this simple homemade Taverns recipe? It’s frugal; you can make them up fairly quickly, and it’s filling. Win-win-win.

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Homemade Taverns Recipe

Every once in a while, my brain will see a word, and it will trigger some kind of memory. I’m sure the same is true for you. A couple of months ago, I was looking through some of my old cookbooks and stumbled across a homemade Tavern recipe. It brought back so many memories of lunches and dinners at my Granny and Grandpa’s house when they were still living.

Both of my grandparents were born in the ’20s in South Dakota, so they not only lived through the Great Depression but also were on the edge of the Dirty ’30s. My grandma knew how to cook a meal with what she had. She also always had bread and jam present at every single meal. Does anyone else’s Granny do that, too? My mom never bought or made white bread, so I always thought that Granny’s bread was a special treat, and she always accompanied it with her homemade jams, usually made from something growing in her backyard (lots of plum jam!).

You might be a bit confused by the recipe I’m featuring today since it doesn’t seem like much of a recipe. This homemade Taverns recipe originated in my little corner of the world…eastern Iowa/southeastern South Dakota.

My family is from southeast SD and I grew up in west central Iowa so hearing the 3 names for this just makes me smile and think of home!! Nothing like a REAL tavern… Maid-Rite… or loose meat!! I was a car hop growing up and the farmers would always ask for loose meat and strings… sounds disgusting but yep… a tavern and French fries!!😂

Dona, Little House Living reader

It was created and most heartily consumed in the ’20s and ’30s, so it’s something that my Granny must have grown up eating for supper. It was also known as a Loose Meat Sandwich or a Maid-Rite Sandwich.

In January on Little House Living, I always talk about eating from the pantry and eating up what you have. January is just a great time to do that! If you have onions and potatoes in your cold storage or in a basem*nt, hamburger in the freezer, plus a few pantry staples to make the buns, you can make this entire meal out of what you already have. No trip to the store is required.

Made them for dinner tonight, and what a hit! I added too much stock, so I used some cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Also added a large clove of garlic with the chopped onions, and then a bay leaf while it was simmering down. That’s the treasure of finding recipes like this, taking a basic recipe and making it your own. I will def be adding this to our repertoire!

Grammy Prepper, Little House Living reader

Variations to a Basic Homemade Taverns Recipe

There are many variations on the basic homemade Tavern recipe (one of them being a Sloppy Joe, which is NOT the same thing), but this recipe that follows is the original way to make this loose meat sandwich in the midwest. A Tavern makes for a very frugal and easy-to-prepare meal because it’s just so simple…easier than making a hamburger.

You can dress it up if you like by adding:

  • dill pickles
  • seasoning salt
  • yellow mustard
  • tomato sauce
  • worcestershire sauce
  • corn
  • ketchup
  • cheese
  • mayonnaise
  • garlic powder
  • brown sugar

Or whatever else you might have on hand. Or you can keep it original and basic, sticking with the frugal sandwich as is.

Have made these up before.Making these up tonight for dinner. My husband grew up in Iowa, and he says this recipe is about as close to the loose meat sandwiches he grew up on over at the Maid Rite restaurants there in Iowa! Will make again and again! ☺️

Laurie, Little House Living reader
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Ingredients in Homemade Taverns Recipe

  • Ground Beef. You need 1lb to make this recipe and feed 4-6 people. I’ve not used any other meat (like ground turkey) to make this tavern sandwich.
  • Onion. This should be chopped so you can add it to the beef. Yellow onion works the best and is usually the cheapest.
  • Beef Broth. If you have homemade beef broth, you can use that! Store-bought will work as well. A good, flavorful broth will go a long way.
  • Salt and Black Pepper. You’ll need to add a bit of these for seasonings to give it some flavor. This is a very simple and basic sandwich.
  • Hamburger Buns.

We call it Loose meat sandwich’s. I add a couple tablespoons flour to thicken it up a bit. Sometimes served on toast.

Mrs. Mac, Little House Living reader

Step by Step Instructions for Making Homemade Taverns

In a frying pan, large skillet, or cast iron pan, fry up the ground beef along with the chopped onion until no pink remains. Drain your ground beef if it’s too greasy.

Add in the beef broth, some salt, and pepper, and simmer on low until the mixture is thick enough to scoop onto your bread. You should not need to drain any liquids. The texture should kind of be like sloppy joes but not quite as sloppy.

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Serve the meat inside some homemade Burger Buns, and enjoy.

You might be able to make this in the slow cooker if you want it as a ready-made meal but I also haven’t tried that yet.

Tip: A great side with this recipe would be my Olive Oil Roasted Potatoes. Delicious and hearty!

You may choose to add some of the extra ingredients that I mentioned above, but if you are looking to make the traditional homemade Taverns recipe, my Granny’s recipe is as close as you can get.

Depending on what town you are from in SD/IA, you might get some different answers to what exactly is in a homemade Taverns recipe, but I think they will all agree that this is the base recipe!

I don’t know that we have an actual name for those kinds of sandwiches in Michigan – scrambled hamburger comes to mind – but I grew up with them. In our house it was just ground beef, onion, salt, and pepper. And normally, we’d put it on a slice of buttered bread, folding it to make ‘half sandwiches. It’s still one of my favorite meals and, not surprising, my kids love them too.

Kristy, Little House Living reader
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Print this Homemade Taverns Recipe below:

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4.91 from 10 votes


Homemade Taverns

Easy and frugal loose meat sandwich to make for your family!

CourseMain Course


KeywordLoose Meat Sandwich, Taverns

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes

Total Time 20 minutes

Servings 6 people

Calories 322 kcal

Creator Merissa


  • 1poundground Beef
  • 1onionchopped (medium or large)
  • 1cupBeef Broth or Stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4-6Burger Buns


  1. In a frying pan or cast iron pan, fry up the ground beef along with the chopped onion until no pink remains.

  2. Add in the beef broth, some salt, and pepper, and simmer on low until the mixture is thick enough to scoop onto your bread.

  3. Serve the meat inside some homemade Burger Buns and enjoy. A great side with this recipe would be my Olive Oil Roasted Potatoes. Delicious and hearty!

Nutrition Facts

Homemade Taverns

Amount Per Serving

Calories 322Calories from Fat 153

% Daily Value*

Fat 17g26%

Saturated Fat 6g38%

Trans Fat 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 7g

Cholesterol 54mg18%

Sodium 413mg18%

Potassium 305mg9%

Carbohydrates 23g8%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 4g4%

Protein 18g36%

Vitamin A 1IU0%

Vitamin C 2mg2%

Calcium 82mg8%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Homemade Taverns Recipe (7)

More Frugal Ground Beef Recipes

  • Cheeseburger Bake
  • Homemade Goulash
  • Stretching a Buck Lasagna
  • Simple Meatloaf Recipe
  • Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch
  • Mozzarella Stuffed Meatloaf
  • Old Fashioned Meatloaf
  • Cheap and Easy Recipes with Ground Beef
  • How to Make Make Ahead Meatballs
  • Frugal Ground Beef Recipes to Stretch the Budget
  • The Best Beef Jerky Recipe
  • Homemade Beef Sausage Patties Recipe
  • Sloppy Joe Seasoning Mix Recipe

Have you ever heard of or tried Taverns before? Do you think you will try this super easy homemade Taverns recipe?

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Merissa Alink

Merissa has been blogging about andliving the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from theContact Page.

This Homemade Taverns Recipe was originally published on Little House Living in January 2019. It has been updated as of December 2023.

Homemade Taverns Recipe (2024)
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