Living in Southern California, I have access to some of the most delicious burgers. Whether it’s the classic animal-style at In-N-Out, the original gourmet burger at Father’s office, or the Hatch burger at Umami – I love them all. What I can’t seem to find when dining out, though, are good beef sliders. Because sliders are smaller, there’s lots of room for error: overcooking the meat, using too many toppings, soggy buns, etc. When I think of the perfect little burger, the White Castle cheeseburger comes to mind. The buns are soft, there are lots of yummy bits of cooked onions, the cheese is melted perfectly, and the meat is tender. Thinking of White Castle has inspired me to make my own version of beef sliders at home.
I came up with this recipe while shopping at Trader Joe’s, where I purchased all the ingredients with the exception of the ground beef. I was fortunate enough to acquire some some grass-fed beef from a rancher in Bend, Oregon, but if I hadn’t, I would have bought some fresh ground beef from my local butcher or ground my own, either of which I recommend. Make sure the ground beef is 80% lean and 20% fat for extra tenderness. One of the biggest mistakes cooks make is shaping the meat into round patties by hand, which toughens the meat. You want the air pockets from the spaces and grooves that were formed when the butcher ground the beef, as this will also keep the meat tender. Also, though it’s not my favorite, American cheese is actually the best cheese for these burgers. It melts beautifully and gives the sliders that classic burger taste. I add sautéed onions, which not only adds moisture, but great taste, and sliced pickles are essential for adding acid and balance. Finally, add your favorite BBQ sauce. I love Trader Joe’s new Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce for a little kick. This step-by-step method will ensure moist and delicious sliders. Enjoy!
Juicy Beef Sliders
Yield: 8 mini burgers
1/2 large sweet onion
Sunflower oil or vegetable oil
6 slices of organic American cheese
8 slider rolls or mini buns
8 slices of sweet bread and butter pickles
Freshly ground pepper
1 lb of grass-fed ground beef, 80/20
Your favorite barbecue sauce (Trader Joe’s Sriracha BBQ Sauce)
1. Chop the onions into a small dice. Heat a medium sauté pan to low heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil, then add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes.
2. The onions should be tender and translucent, but not have a golden color. Set aside.
3. Get all your toppings ready. Remove the cheese slices out of their individual plastic wrappers. You will need to cut out 1/3 of the cheese so it will be the correct slice for sliders. You will combine you smaller cheese scraps for 2 of the sliders. Place them on a parchment paper so they stick to each other.
4. Take the pickle slices out of the jar. Slice each one at a diagonal. Bread and butter pickles tend to be a little thick. You’ll have 16 slices. It’s an extra step, but it makes a difference in the taste of each bite. Set aside.
5. Take the ground beef and serrated knife and begin cutting the beef into 8 portions. Gently flatten each portion by separating the meat pieces with your fingers, but you do not need to form it into a traditional burger shape. If you handle the ground beef too much, it will toughen the meat.
6. Season the meat with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
7. Heat a large cast-iron pan to medium-high heat. Take out the slider rolls and set aside. Place 4 ground beef portions, seasoned-side down, onto the cast-iron pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the unseasoned side. Cook the meat for about 2 minutes until you get a nice sear.
8. Flip the meat and add the cheese slices. Add the 4 slider buns to the pan, cut side down (total of 8 slices).
9 . Cook the meat for about one minute on the other side. I like my burgers medium.
10. To assemble the sliders, spread about a teaspoon of the cooked onions on the bottom bun.
11. Add the cooked meat, two pickle slices, 1 tablespoon of your favorite BBQ sauce, then the top slider bun. Serve right away.
12. Repeat the process with the remaining beef and ingredients to make four more sliders. Enjoy!
Trader Joe’s Pantry