We can all probably agree that just like other “mini” versions of things we love (baby animals!), a mini-hamburger is really adorable. But there are other reasons you may want to try making sliders besides their Instagram appeal.
Their smaller size and finger-friendliness also makes them a budget-friendly party food (smaller portion size helps the meat stretch further and you don’t end up tossing a bunch of deserted half-eaten burgers at the end of your BBQ). A couple of pounds of ground meat makes enough to feed a crowd!
Ready to get on the tiny burger train? We’ve got all the slider info you’ll need: what they are, how to make them, plus fun recipe ideas to get your creative juices flowing (like these awesome jalapeno popper sliders—watch Rach make them in the video above).
WHY DO THEY CALL IT A SLIDER?
We were curious about this so did some searching online. One theory is that the term came from Navy men calling greasy burgers “sliders”—no explanation as to why it only small burgers came away with this name. Another thought is that it comes from how smaller burgers could easily be maneuvered around and off a griddle in the kitchens of diners and fast-food burger shacks… then the word stuck as a way to differentiate downsized burgers from larger ones?
Apparently there are some “slider purists” out there who insist that a true slider is only a thin hamburger 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.
Who knows, but they’re all delicious in our book!
HOW MANY OUNCES OF MEAT ARE IN A SLIDER?
A pound of ground meat will make about 8 to 10 sliders. When you form your patties, you’ll want them to be around the size of ping-pong balls.
As with sliders’ classic burger cousins, the ground beef you use is important. It’s easy to overcook sliders because of their small size, so for the juiciest patties, look for higher-fat beef, like an 80/20 blend (80% lean beef, 20% fat) of ground chuck or brisket.
Another big similarity between sliders and regular burgers: you can go wild with what you put between the buns. Try subbing ground beef with shredded chicken doused in Buffalo sauce, Sloppy Joe-style ground turkey, or -- for a special occasion -- even tender beef filets.
Speaking of buns...
WHAT KIND OF BUNS ARE BEST FOR SLIDERS?
These can be almost anything you like, from traditional sesame-topped hamburger buns (yep, you can find mini versions of these at the grocery store in the bread aisle, look for “mini hamburger buns” or “slider buns”) to small ciabatta rolls; even a couple of baguette slices will do the job.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COOK SLIDERS?
First things first, to ensure even cooking, follow Rach’s burger-making method: Using your palms to roll the seasoned ground meat, form round patty balls (again, you’re going for ping-pong size to make sliders), then flatten them so that they’re thinner at the center.
When it comes to cooking, Rach prefers cooking her burgers in a skillet: “I love the caramelization of all the meat on a flat surface… I think the best burgers come out of a big ‘ol frying pan”—but it’s really a matter of taste. Other people love the smokier flavor of a grilled burger.
Depending on the thickness of your sliders, they’ll need about 4 to 6 minutes of cooking on each side. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat or fire up your grill. If you’re using a skillet, test to see if it’s hot enough by pouring in a drop of oil. When it smokes, the skillet is ready.
Once your grill or skillet is hot, place the patties in the pan, then flip them all immediately. Since they cook a lot faster than full-size burgers, you need to keep a closer eye on them to make sure they don’t dry out (but the upside of this is they’ll be ready for hungry guests faster!).
To make sure your sliders taste their very best, we love this burger pro-tip from chef Anne Burrell: Make a teeny-tiny tester patty to cook up quickly before cooking the rest of the burgers. Since you can’t taste ground beef before cooking, doing this is a great way to make sure that you’ve seasoned your meat to perfection.
CAN YOU MAKE SLIDERS IN THE OVEN?
You absolutely can! In fact, making sliders in the oven is a great option, since it lets you be hands-off while prepping your party snacks.
For oven-baked sliders, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Form balls of ground beef that are slightly larger than you would when grilling, since they’ll cook down more when they’re baked. Next, you’ll place them on a baking sheet (or a muffin tin) and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Once you pull the patties out of the oven, you can add toppings to your heart’s content!
WHAT ARE THE BEST SLIDER RECIPES FOR FEEDING A CROWD?
Once you’re ready to get creative with your burger bites, try mixing it up with chicken teriyaki sliders, bistro-inspired sliders topped with zesty horseradish and Gruyere cheese, or South Boston-style burgers topped with bacon and beans.
Here are a few more of our favorite slider topping possibilities:
SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS
GET THE RECIPE: Sausage and Peppers Sliders
BOURBON BARBECUE SAUCE
GET THE RECIPE: Bourbon Barbecue Sliced Steak Sliders
GET THE RECIPE: Club Burger Sliders with Avocado Ranch Dressing