From the American South and beyond, here's a delicious collection of 25+ Savory, Slow-food Slider Recipes that you can really sink your teeth into!
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What is a slider and where did they come from?
White Castle, generally credited as the country's first fast-food chain, also gets credit for inventing the original slider - a little two-inch square burger with a ridiculously thin meat patty - and introducing it to the world.
Over the last decade, sliders have been popping up like daisies on menus all across the US, from greasy spoon drive-ins to upscale gastropubs. In no place are they more ubiquitous than in the American South, home to both White Castle and its tiny-burger rival, Krystal.
Depending on who you ask, a slider is either (a) a mini-hamburger, or (b) a mini-sandwich. Unless you ask Adam Kuban, [Editor Emeritus, Serious Eats], who unequivocally defines and defends the original slider recipe:
A slider is something very specific. It is not just a mini hamburger. It’s a thin, thin slip of beef, cooked on a griddle with onions and pickles piled atop patty. The steam from the onions does as much cooking as the griddle. The buns are placed atop the onions, absorbing the pungent aroma and flavor.
Personally, I prefer to use the broadest interpretation possible – a slider is a little bun with a yummy, mostly protein-based filling. However, while I may not agree with Mr Kuban on the defining points, I do have to give him some serious props: he has constructed what is probably the best copycat recipe around for traditional beef-n-onion sliders.
The Great Slider Debate
White Castle first opened its doors in Wichita, Kansas in 1921. Eleven years later, Krystal was founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In a modern-day Mason-Dixon fast food standoff, Tennessee and Kentucky are the only two US states in which the two chains cross paths.
Since Mr. B and I had to grab a couple of quick meals on our last trip to Tennessee, we decided to seize the opportunity to weigh in on The Great Slider Debate.
Whose slider recipe is better - White Castle or Krystal?
White Castle vs. Krystal
We tried to be as objective as possible in our review. It had been more than 15 years since either Mr B or I had eaten a White Castle slider, and neither one of us had ever tried a Krystals slider before. In both cases, we sampled the basic Cheese Slider (or Cheese Krystal, as the case may be).
- Appearance: The sliders look basically exactly the same. The White Castle slider seemed a bit loftier; it was almost as tall as it was wide. By comparison, the Krystal slider was a bit flatter and had more the appearance of a miniature burger.
- Size: I didn't get out a caliper gauge or anything, but by all appearances, they seemed to be exactly the same size.
- Buns: White Castle buns seemed much lighter and airier than Krystal buns. More importantly, they had a very slight, yet distinct sweetness that I missed in the Krystal bun. The Krystal bun felt a little more dense, and would probably hold up a bit better if you had to take it home before eating it. [Point: White Castle]
- Cheese: Standard fast food yellow processed cheese. Nothing distinctive in either case.
- Meat: The meat in both sliders was the same size and thickness (just under ¼' high). White Castle's slider meat seemed to be slightly seasoned, whereas Krystal's tasted a little flat to us.[Point: White Castle]
- Onions: In both cases, the onions used were reconstituted from dried onion bits, or at least they tasted like they were. The onions were better on the White Castle sliders; they tasted like maybe they put a little Worcestershire sauce or beef stock or something on them to season them, or perhaps it was just "flavor crystals" from the grill. In any case, the Krystal onions were just not as flavorful. [Point: White Castle]
- Other Condiments: White Castle sliders come with a pickle. Period. Krystal sliders come with a pickle and mustard, which Mr B and I both liked, so...[Point: Krystal]
WINNER: White Castle
Summary: If you want a sweeter, lighter slider, White Castle is the place to go. If you like a more tangy slider with a denser bun, go with Krystal. In any event, if you've never even once sunk your teeth into one of these little east-of-the-Mississippi coronary cloggers, it's an experience you might want to try. At least once.
Even if you never set foot in the South, you can still enjoy a savory little slider anytime! Get started with one of these delicious slider recipes!
Looking to get your Southern cooking on? Try our Naked Colonel's KFC Original Recipe Copycat; or, if you like things a little hotter, take a bit of our crazy-delicious Nashville Hot Chicken! Then finish things off with a slice of this amazing Southern-style Triple-layer Strawberry Cake.
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