It’s the Fourth of July! Let’s have a picnic on this patriotic holiday. I associate All-American hot dogs and hamburgers with Fourth of July celebrations and so I’m making burger sliders for this picnic. Mine are a re-make of White Castle sliders. These are miniature square hamburgers with onions served with a steamed bun. If you’ve never had a White Castle slider, try these substitutes. They are quite tasty little hamburgers.
White Castle is a family owned hamburger fast food chain found in the Midwestern states, so there’s a good chance you’ve never seen or tried these burgers. There are 420 chain stores vs McDonald’s 36,000 outlets according to Wikipedia. The sliders aren’t just any hamburger, White Castle followers find the sliders to be addictive.
The hamburgers are quite simple. They are ground beef patties seasoned with salt and pepper that are grilled. The distinctive features are the tiny chopped onions which are cooked along with the burgers adding flavor and the steamed buns. For my remake, I grilled the buns in margarine in a skillet to make a crispy, steamed bun.
Originally the patties were small balls (18 to one pound) which were placed on a grill. Slivered onions were added on top, the hamburger was flipped and pressed down. A bun was placed on top of the burger so that is was steamed and hot. A pickle was placed on top of the burger before serving. No other condiments were added; patrons could add their own ketchup, etc at the tabble. Now the burgers are pre-made and the onions are dehydrated ones. The burgers are flat and square with five holes poked in each square so the onions penetrate through.
White Castle now sells frozen burgers in stores throughout the states. A co-worker found some of their burgers at Sam’s Wholesale Club stores. I found some at Walgreen’s Pharmacy store. Now I have a source for my own White Castle burgers!
First fast food chain and first slider
The White Castle fast food chain was founded in 1921 in Wichita , Kansas. The chain claims to be the first fast food chain and the first to make sliders or tiny sandwiches. The company standardized the kitchen procedures making the process like an assembly line. To boost the public’s confidence in the sanitation of the food, all the building interiors were made of stainless steel and the workers wore spotless white uniforms.
The buildings are also easy to identify. They are made of pre-fabricated materials and look like a caste. Because it’s a family owned business and the all food products come from several manufacturing facilities (even the buns are family-made) the chain hasn’t grown outside the mid- west.
On one of our road trip travels through the mid-west, we stopped in Cincinnati. My son spotted a White Castle fast food chain restaurant. We had to try a burger. That was my in introduction to the sliders.
Re-make of a White Castle Slider
I searched the internet to find recipes for White Castle sliders. Of course there were many variations and I tried a number of these copy cat recipes. I found that if the burgers were too thin then all you tasted was the bun. If I grilled the tiny burgers, they burnt. If I used hamburger with a higher fat content, they were flavorful but too greasy.
In the end, I followed the process often found on the internet adding my own recipe and a few additional ingredients. Here are the ingredients for my sliders.The hamburger ingredients of ground beef, salt, black pepper, egg and seasoned bread crumbs are mixed then rolled between wax paper to fit into a 8″ x 10″ baking pan.
Lots and lots of finely chopped or minced onion is generously layered onto the bottom of the pan.Then the flattened ground beef is added on top of the onions. Holes are poked into the ground beef layer in the pan. I used a chop stick.
All-American Burger Sliders
- 1 large white or sweet onion (3 cups), chopped or minced into small pieces
- 1-1/3 lb lean ground beef 93/7, fine grind
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 12 Pepperidge Farm slider buns (2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″)
- 12 bread and butter or dill pickle slices
- condiments as desired such as ketchup, tomatoes, lettuce
Instructions and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spread onions in 8″ x 10″ baking pan.
- Add ground beef to medium bowl then add bread crumbs, beaten egg, salt and black pepper. Mix well.
- Place wax paper on a large flat surface (I used a cutting board). Then add the ground beef mixture and place wax paper on top. Roll to a thin rectangle that is the size of the baking pan. Transfer to the baking pan on top of the onions.
- Using a chop stick, poke holes in the ground beef approximately one inch apart.
- Bake in the 400 degree onion for 20 minutes.
- Remove and cut in squares, 3 cuts across and 4 down.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Open the slider buns, spread margarine on buns and place opened buns, buttered side down, on skillet. Grill until the surface is browned and the bun is warmed.
- Add a cooked burger with lots of onions to bottom bun, place dill pickle on top, add top bun.
- Serve immediately, passing condiments of ketchup, tomato, lettuce as desired.
Read more about White Castle