Why would someone choose beef sliders instead of a full-size hamburger? There are many reasons why restaurants and food trucks experience strong sales when they innovate delicious toppings and flavor combinations. In fact, it’s a top seller as both an entrée and an appetizer.
If full-sized burgers are a featured item on your menu, adding sliders provides another option that will be popular with your patrons. Everyone enjoys a great hamburger, but sometimes all you really want to order is a taste, not the full nine yards of a multilevel burger, stacked with toppings.
From light lunches to late night ‘pub grub’ the small size of the beef slider provides just enough protein for a satisfying meal. Increasingly restaurants are seeing customers who prefer to combine several appetizers for a tapas style dining experience, instead of settling for one starter and an entrée.
Sliders are also ideal for sharing with friends. Restaurants can plate up to (3) classic sliders with all the standard toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheese and condiments) or choose to serve three different varieties with unique toppings. Now that’s a great way to get customers excited about your menu, particularly if you rotate the slider combination with new toppings and combinations!
Beef Slider Preparation and Topping Suggestions
Slider cooking times may vary, depending on the size and thickness of the patty, but on average a slider takes approximately 10 minutes to cook thoroughly. Beef sliders should be cooked and checked using a meat thermometer for food safety, and until each patty reaches an internal temperature (in the center) of 160°F and until the meat juices run clear, with no hint of red or pink.
Some of the most innovative sliders we’ve seen in restaurants were served on crostini bread, lightly toasted sour dough rounds, pretzel buns and sweet Hawaiian rolls. If you are serving spicy grilled peppers as a topping, it pairs well with a soft and sweet bun (as opposed to a crusty roll).
Now for the really fun part… getting creative with the toppings to impress your customers.
- Heart Healthy Sliders
Add a healthy option by choosing whole grain, lightly toasted buns. Add grilled fruit like pineapple slices, grilled sweet potato, portobello mushrooms, grilled asparagus, grilled romaine lettuce, or fresh avocado for a California inspired flavor.
- Gourmet Mini-Cheeseburgers
The classic combination of a great slider with old cheddar is a fan favorite for restaurant goers, but you can exceed their expectations by serving it with a variety of different cheese toppings. In fact, you can take the humble slider to the gourmet level, by experimenting with cheese varieties that have the appropriate melting point, including:
- Smoked gouda (try this with a sprinkle of slivered almonds)
- Pepper Jack
- Goat cheese (perfect with grilled vegetable toppings)
- Swiss cheese
- Blue cheese
- Feta cheese
Since sliders cook so quickly, many chef’s use a stainless-steel bowl to cover the beef patty and help thoroughly melt the cheese approximately 1 minute before the patty is done cooking on the grill.
- Spicy Sliders
Since sliders are small and appetizing, you can experiment with a variety of homemade burger sauces and grilled peppers to ‘turn up the heat’ for customers who like to walk on the spicy side.
Try some of these topping suggestions:
- Grilled jalapeño peppers
- Pickled jalapeño (for a milder alternative)
- Spicy crumbled Chorizo
- Grilled Hatch chile
- Savory grilled poblano peppers
There are so many ways to make the classic slider an exciting appetizer or light-eating menu option for your restaurant. Get creative, and experiment with different seasonings such as cayenne, cumin, hickory and chili powder to create your own selection of signature sliders, unique to your restaurant.