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Food & Recipes

Test Kitchen Secrets: 4 Surprise Ways To Take Sliders From Good to Great

Hint: King's Hawaiian buns are perfectly fluffy and just the right amount sweet

When it comes to fun food, sliders are at the top of our list — there’s just something so cute about the mini sandwiches that makes them great for a party. But we also love ‘em any night of the week to make mealtime more festive. And just because they’re only one or two bites doesn’t mean they’re not packed with big flavor. Our easy secret to take sliders to the next level? We use King’s Hawaiian buns. They’re slightly sweet, perfectly pillowy and complement so many flavor fillings. Ready to try it for yourself? Keep scrolling to learn more about King’s Hawaiian sliders, plus get pro tricks and recipes that make it easy to enjoy.

What makes King’s Hawaiian buns ideal for sliders?

A great slider begins with the bun, which should be small enough to hold with one hand yet still allow room for toppings or fillings. That’s why First for Women food director Julie Miltenberger suggests rolls like King’s Hawaiian Sweet Pre-Sliced Slider Buns (Buy from Walmart, $4.97). Not only are they perfectly sized for sliders, they’re fluffy in texture with just the right amount of sweetness — regardless if you toast them or not. “That flavor is a great way to balance classic savory slider fillings like burgers and pulled pork,” Julie says. Intrigued? Read on to learn how to make the perfect slider.

How to make sliders at home

A slider can contain any meat that’s shredded, shaped into mini burger patties or cut into small pieces — it really is that simple! And yet Julie notes there’s one hitch for many home cooks: Burger sliders are prone to drying out because the thin patties cook very quickly and can lose their juices if overcooked. The good news is, you can avoid tough and chewy slider patties simply by following these three steps from Julie.

  1. Keep an eye on the meat. Julie notes that slider patties don’t require lengthy cook times since they’re so small. “On a hot grill, they will only need 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side for medium-rare,” she says. For a slider patty that’s closer to well-done, cook it for a few extra seconds or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
  2. Add moisture-boosting veggies to the patty mix. According to Julie, adding veggies to the ground meat mixture helps it become moist and tender. “To ensure they don’t dry out, I like to grate a little mushroom or zucchini into the patty mixture,” she says. “The moisture from the veggies will baste the meat from the inside out.!” Try grating 2 to 3 small mushrooms (any variety) or a thumb-sized piece of zucchini into the ground meat and combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Portion the sliders evenly. Julie says you should aim for about 2 oz. of protein per slider (1 pound of ground beef should make 8 sliders). “I like to divide the patty mixture into equal portions, roll them into balls and then flatten them slightly,” she says. “Since they cook so quickly, you don’t need to make an indent in the patties to keep them from shrinking.”

5 easy recipes for sliders

Now it’s time for the fun part: getting inspiration for your batch of homemade sliders. Below, Julie shares five sliders recipes that are sweet, tangy, spicy — and equally delicious for your loved ones to enjoy!

1. Cheesy Chipotle Sliders

Cheesy Chipotle Sliders
Sandra Roesch/Shutterstock

Spiced mayonnaise makes these burger bites so mouthwateringly good, guests are sure to gobble them up.


  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp. chipotle chile pepper
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (preferably 80/20)
  • ¼ cup ketchup 
  • 8 slices American cheese, 6 oz., quartered
  • 16 slider rolls, split
  • Pickle and tomato slices, torn lettuce and ketchup


  • Active: 45 mins
  • Total time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 16 servings
  1. Position broiler rack so that tops of burgers on rack in pan are 4 inches from heat source. Heat broiler. Mix mayo and chipotle pepper; reserve. In bowl, mix beef and ketchup; shape into 16 (⅜-inch thick) patties.
  2. In 2 batches, place patties on rack in broiler pan and broil, flipping once, 2 minutes. per side for medium-rare. Spread cut sides of rolls with mayonnaise mixture. Place 2 pieces cheese on each bun bottom. Broil until cheese melts, 15 seconds; place burgers on top.
  3. Top with pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup and bun tops. 

2. Turkey ‘n’ Bacon Burger Sliders

Turkey ‘n’ Bacon Burger Sliders
Food & Photo

Our easy from-scratch Thousand Island dressing can be made up to a week ahead — make a double batch to use a condiment on sandwiches or for a tangy dressing for green salads.


  • 1 (20.8-oz.) package ground turkey 
  • ½ cup finely minced mushrooms 
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs 
  • ¼ cup whole milk 
  • 1 large egg 
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley 
  • 5 slider buns
  • 5 slices American cheese, torn into 15 pieces 
  • 5 slices cooked bacon, cut into thirds


  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. pickle relish
  • 1 Tbs. minced onion
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes and skewers (optional)


  • Active: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr, 30 mins
  • Yield: 15 servings
  1. For sliders: In bowl, combine turkey, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, milk, egg, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley. Shape into balls (about 3 Tbs. each); transfer to plate. Press to flatten into 2 ½-inch patties. Cover and chill until ready to cook.
  2. Separate tops and bottoms of burger buns and flatten slightly. Using small 2” round cutter or shot glass, cut 3 rounds from each for slider-sized buns.
  3. For dressing: In medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, onion, vinegar and salt. Cover and chill until ready to use.
  4. Place air fryer basket in 7-quart air fryer; heat to 400°F. In batches, in single layer in air-fryer basket, air-fry burgers until browned and when meat thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 165°F, about 14 minutes. Top with cheese, then bacon. Spread roll bottoms with dressing; if desired add lettuce. Top with burgers and roll tops. If desired, skewer halved tomatoes and insert into sliders.

3. Chicken Sliders

Chicken Sliders
ARE Media

A combo of lime-scented ranch slaw and cumin-rubbed chicken makes these mini sandwiches irresistible.


  • 1 to 2 limes
  • 1 cup light ranch salad dressing
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage, 8 oz.
  • 1 ½ cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ lbs. thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 12 (2 ½-inch wide) pieces
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 12 slider or dinner rolls, split
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced


  • Active: 35 mins
  • Total time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking. Grate enough zest from limes to equal 2 tsp.; squeeze enough juice to equal 1 Tbs. into small bowl; add dressing and ¼ tsp. pepper. Transfer ¼ cup dressing mixture to large bowl; stir in ¼ tsp. salt, then cabbage, carrots, cilantro and scallions until coated. Reserve remaining dressing mixture. 
  2. Toss chicken with oil, cumin and remaining ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper; grill, turning once, until no longer pink in centers, 3 to 4 minutes. per side. Evenly divide cabbage mixture among roll bottoms. Top with chicken, remaining dressing, jalapeño and roll tops.

4. Chili Cheeseburger Sliders

Chili Cheeseburger Sliders
Happy Foods Tube/Shutterstock

Ketchup, chili powder and pepper Jack cheese add big flavor to our scrumptious bite-size burgers. 


  • 4 Tbs. ketchup 
  • ½ tsp. green hot pepper sauce
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (preferably 80/20) 
  • 2 tsp. chili powder 
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced pepper Jack cheese 
  • 16 slider rolls or small soft potato rolls, split 
  • Lettuce leaves, halved 
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced 
  • ½ cup guacamole 


  • Active: 30 mins
  • Total time: 30 minutes + grill prep time
  • Yield: 8 servings
  1. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking or position broiler rack so that top of meat in pan will be 4 inches from heat source; preheat broiler. In small bowl, com- bine 2 Tbs. ketchup and hot pepper sauce; reserve. In large bowl, combine ground beef, remaining 2 Tbs. ketchup,  chili powder and cumin. Shape into 16 (⅛-inch thick) patties. 
  2. Grill or broil patties, turning once, until cooked through, 2 minutes per side. Top with cheese, dividing evenly; grill or broil until melted, 1 minute. 
  3. Spread reserved ketchup mixture over roll bottoms; add lettuce, burgers, tomatoes and guacamole. Top with roll tops.

Want to make your own guac? Click through for our favorite recipe for homemade creamy guacamole.

5. Pulled Pork Sliders

Pulled pork sliders
ARE Media

Set-it-and-forget-it slow-cooked pork melts into the scrumptious filling for these finger-licking good mini sandwiches.


  • 3 lbs. boneless pork butt
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • ⅓ cup + 1 Tbs. white vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 ½  tsp. grated lime zest
  • 2 ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 2 cups packaged 3-color coleslaw mix, from 14-oz. package
  • ½ cucumber, halved lengthwise, sliced
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 12 slider rolls, split


  • Active: 40 mins
  • Total time: 12 hrs, 40 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Place pork in 3-quart slow cooker. Combine tomato paste, barbecue sauce ⅓ cup vinegar, sugar, garlic, 2 tsp. zest, cumin and 1 tsp. salt; pour over pork. Cover; cook on low cook until very tender, 12 hours.  
  2. In bowl, whisk together oil and remaining 1 Tbs. vinegar, ½ tsp. zest and ⅛ tsp. salt. Stir in coleslaw mix, cucumber and cilantro until combined.
  3. Transfer pork to plate; cool slightly. Using 2 forks or stand mixer, shred meat. Skim fat from juices in slow cooker. Combine pork and ½ cup juices. Reserve remaining juices.
  4. Fill rolls with slaw and pork. If desired, serve with remaining juices.

Want some tasty ideas for what to serve with your sliders? Check out these recipes:

Test-Kitchen Secrets to the Best Corn on the Cob — and a Must-Try Air-Fryer Version

This Trick for Crispy Oven Fries Will Make You Say Goodbye to Drive-Thrus

Cucumber Salad Is the Ultimate Summer Side — Here’s How To Make It Extra Crunchy and Flavorful

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