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ATK Kids

How to Make Copycat White Castle Burgers

Learn the origin of these sliders and make the crispy, cheesy, onion-studded burgers on pillowy buns right at home—no need to hightail it to the fast-food joint.
By Published Mar. 22, 2022

Superthin, crispy, and cheesy, the fast-food-style slider is undeniably iconic. But have you ever wanted to try making this fry-cook essential at home? Cook’s Country’s Ashley Moore developed a way to re-create the first fast-food burger ever invented—the White Castle slider—in your own kitchen. 

It’s a recipe the ATK Kids team then adapted for our latest cookbook, The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs. Read on to learn how these little burgers came to be and how to replicate them with just a few easy tricks.

Tasty History

A century ago, fast-food hamburgers were a new idea thought up by business partners Billy Ingram and Walter Anderson. In 1921, they opened a tiny burger restaurant in Wichita, Kansas, that was shaped like a castle and named it White Castle. Their idea was to serve burgers quickly, cheaply, and consistently for customers on the go. White Castle’s little “sliders” were fast to prepare and affordable to buy at just 5 cents apiece, so customers could “buy ’em by the sack.” 

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The success of White Castle led the owners to open new locations all over the country—all with an identical castle design, and all of which cooked their burgers exactly the same way. This had never been done before, making White Castle the first chain restaurant in the country. White Castle is still in business today, with about 375 locations (still owned by the Ingram family) serving its iconic sliders. 

How to Make a White Castle–Style Slider

White Castle pioneered its small, thin patty so that they could cook lots of burgers more quickly. In this recipe, you can achieve that same thinness by shaping the ground beef into balls, placing those balls in a large zipper-lock plastic bag (with the side seams cut open), and flattening them with a clear pie plate to the perfect slider-size diameter.

At White Castle, they cook large batches of burgers at once on a bed of grilled onions. We imitate that step on a smaller scale by pressing a layer of finely chopped onion into one side of each patty and cooking the patties on both sides. This gives the meat that iconic sweet browned-onion flavor.

Finally, to get the meltiest cheese and most pillowy buns, employ the power of steam: Place some gooey American cheese and the top bun on each patty, pour a bit of water in the bottom of the skillet, and cover for the last couple minutes of cooking time. Transfer the patties to their respective bun bottoms, and you have a meal fit for a king. The king of White Castle, that is.

Hey! Did you know ATK Kids has its very own YouTube channel? Subscribe now, and watch the video below as teen recipe testers Max and Adelina make these sliders.