White Castle sliders are one of those things that you love or you hate, or sometimes you love to hate. Recently, we stopped by a White Castle to put in a quick order. I was amazed that a tiny little hamburger that is about 1/3 the size of any other hamburger was selling for .79 in my area. Seventy-nine CENTS! That is outrageous, quite frankly. I’m sorry, but I can get a burger off the value menu of almost any fast food restaurant for about $1 that is three times the size of a White Castle slider.
It got me to thinking about the recipe I’ve used for years to make my own sliders at home (jump right to that recipe). There are a couple of drawbacks to my White Castle recipe, though. For one, it s messy. I just use ground beef and serve it on a bun. It sort of tends to fall out and you have to pretty much eat it with a fork. The taste is out of this world, though. My husband will eat almost anything I cook, but he has complained about how messy it is.
So, I began experimenting this past week with alternatives for White Castle Copycat Sliders that wouldn’t be as messy and I came up with a new, economical slider recipe I think you’re going to love (skip right to the new recipe).
Sliders Bring Back Memories
When I was a little girl, there weren’t nearly as many fast food places as there are now (I’m probably telling my age here – okay, I’m 48, might as well own it.). On the road near my home was a Burger Chef, a Steak and Shake, and some sit down restaurants. By the time I was a pre-teen, fast food was springing up everyone. Hardee’s had taken over Burger Chef’s spot, Taco Bell, McDonald’s and many others. There still weren’t as many as there are today.
Sliders bring back memories when we would go to the flea market on a Saturday and me and my parents would stop in for the little hamburgers. Back then, you could get a slider for about 14 or 15 cents each. We’d each get three or four on a plate and that was our dinner. It was cheap, it was tasty, you wouldn’t regret it until later in the evening.
I have never been able to decide if I really love the taste of a slider or I love the feelings it is associated with. I often associate food with memories, which probably why I am a bit fluffy. At any rate, while I’m all for memories and food, I am also all about saving money.
Breaking Down the Savings
Let me show you how making these yourself, even just some of the time actually does save you money. Keep in mind that one slider is .79. Yes, you can probably get a slight discount if you buy in bulk, but you’ll also pay luxury tax in many states for eating out, so we are going to call it a wash. For example, we have to pay 7 cents on the dollar in Indiana.
So, let’s say you are going to make the loose meat version. I’m going to base my prices on the costs in the Midwest at Kroger on a typical day. If you buy items when they are on sale or from a lower priced grocer, you may be able to save even more. I also buy my ground beef from a local farmer friend who raises grass fed beef. You most definitely can get this cheaper.
- 1 pound grass-fed ground beef – $6.00
- 1 small white onion – $1.00
- 1 package white hamburger buns (I get the Psst!) – $0.89
- Pickles – $1.00 (you won’t use the whole jar)
Total cost for recipe is $8.89. You will get 8 large burgers or about 24 slider’s worth, making them only $0.37 each. My estimates are high here. You can definitely do this even cheaper than that by buying the beef on sale.
Option number two is getting actual slider size mini burgers and buns. This will cost you a bit more, but you’ll save money and control the ingredients.
- Slider burgers – $6.99
- Slider buns (you can also get a whole wheat version) – $1.99
- 1/2 small white onion – $0.50
- Pickles – $1.00
Total $10.48 or about $0.58/each
Being the cheapskate that I am, I would normally just insist that my family go ahead and eat the loose meat ones, because the savings is quite a bit more. Apples to apples comparison:
- 18 White Castle Sliders: $14.22
- 18 Loose Meat Copycat Sliders: $6.66 (I promise they aren’t evil, though, well… maybe to your tummy)
- 18 Mini Patty Copycat Sliders: $10.44
So, at a minimum, you’ll save almost $4.00 on this one meal. Or, you can save almost $8.00. My advice? For the family, do loose meat. This allows you to use grass-fed beef and feed them healthier. If you must buy the slider size buns, spend a dollar more for those. Then, if you are having company or kids’ friends over, you can splurge a bit and buy the actually little hamburger patties. Option # 3 would be to use the ground beef and make up your own little mini patties. To hold them together, add a small egg to the mix. You can go ahead and season the meat, too.
Ways to Save Even More!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know how I love to stretch a nickel. I’m always looking for ways to save even more money. There are a number of ways to save on this particular meal.
- Buy items when they are on sale. Occasionally, I see these patties go down to $4.99 or a coupon through Kroger. If you see them on sale like this, stock up. Buy several packages. The same goes for any other ingredient.
- Use a cheaper beef. I prefer the grass-fed and honestly it is as cheap to buy as something like Laura’s Lean (cheaper in most cases). However, you can save a lot by using say an 85% lean beef and buying it on sale. Instead of paying $6/lb., you may be able to pay as little as $3 or $4.
- Make a bigger batch and freeze it. As with most things, if you can buy in bulk, you can save some money. Simply make a big batch of beef with the onion and seasonings. Portion it into sizes your family will eat for a meal and freeze what you aren’t going to use. This will also save you money, because when you need a quick meal you will have one instead of being tempted to eat out.
Tips White Castle Hamburgers Copycat
Things you make at home don’t ever taste exactly like they do in the restaurant. There are some closely guarded secrets. And, there are times where you do need to splurge, if you can call White Castle a real splurge, and just buy the real thing. However, there are many times you can get the taste close enough to satisfy that craving.
Here are some things that will make them taste a bit closer:
- Salt – White Castle sliders are very salty. Have you ever watched them prepare them? They put the patties down on the grill and they salt them. Do the same thing, no matter which recipe you are using.
- Onions – You can use a yellow onion if that is what you have on hand, but the white onions are more like what they use in the restaurant. You’ll also want to chop them very fine. I have a Pampered Chef food chopper that works perfectly.
- Buns – White Castle cooks one side and flips it and then places the buns on the burgers to soak up the grease a bit. This works best with the loose meat slider recipe, in my opinion. I tend to cook until browned and then turn down to a low simmer and place the buns inside down on top. This makes them soft and gooey. Yum! If using patties, cook through and then put the buns down to soak up some of the grease and simmer for a minute or two.
- Pickles – Add two pickles per slider or four if using a bigger sandwich. This is close to how many the restaurant uses. You also can add cheese if you prefer, but it will impact the overall cost.
Ready to try your hand at making your own White Castle like sliders at home?
Recipe # 1 – Loose Meat White Castle Copycat Sliders
- 1 pound ground beef of choice
- 1 small white onion (you likely won’t use it all – to taste)
- 1 package white hamburger buns
Chop onion as fine as possible.
Add ground beef to skillet and add onion (stir together). Salt the entire top of the mixture.
Cook on medium heat until mixture is browned through. Reduce heat to simmer.
Place hamburger buns face down on top of mixture to allow to soak up a bit of the grease before serving.
Add pickles to taste and serve while warm.
Recipe # 2 – Slider Patties White Castle Like Burgers
- 1 package frozen slider burgers
- 1/2 small white onion you may not use it all
- 1 package white slider buns
- Dill pickles to taste
- Salt to taste
Chop up onion as fine as possible.
Place 1/2 of chopped onion in skillet. Place hamburger patties on top. Salt to taste.
Brown one side of the patties and then flip them over, salt the other side and brown until cooked through.
When patties are browned, reduce heat to simmer, place hamburger buns face down on top of the patties and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add pickles and serve warm.
On top of saving money, making your own White Castle sliders at home allows you to spend precious time with your family. Get the kids involved in the process. Even the youngest child can set the table or add pickles to the sandwiches. Plus, you’ll be in control of the ingredients, which will ensure your family is eating healthier.