Sliders are a colloquial term used for very small hamburgers that can be consumed in 2 to 4 bites. They are also seen referred to as “microburgers”, “tiny burgers”, “bite-size burgers” and “mini-burgers.” They are often sold in multiples of 4 to 6.
The hamburger patties will be made from about 1 oz (30g) of beef, and be only about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 1/2 cm) wide and thin.
The buns are correspondingly small. Standard-sized hamburger buns won’t work, as they would give you too high a bun to beef ratio. Usually the bun is a soft bread bun, but English Muffins have been used on occasion.
Upscale ones can be made of Wagyu-style Beef (for instance, those served at the Stanton Social, 99 Stanton Street, New York.)
The small-burger concept was pioneered by the White Castle Burger Chain in America, which steam cooks its burgers. The name “Sliders” was coined by fans, referring to how easy the juicy, steamed burgers slid down. Because the patties are so small and thin, they can often be dry, in which case they are definitely not sliders, but just tiny hamburgers. White Castle’s steaming technique helps avoid the dryness issue. In later years, wags have said it refers to how easy the burgers slide down — and out — you.
White Castle finally embraced the name and copyrighted it, but in its copyrighted version, it changed the “i” to “y” — as in “Slyder”, so that it would be a copyrightable term.
Sassy’s Sliders (opened 1995: corner of Third and 86th in New York) even uses the term in their name.