Sunday, August 15, 2021

Krystal versus White Castle taste test comparison

I do love Sliders. I grew up eating Krystal hamburgers since my Mamaw worked there for 35 years! Krystal burgers are regional though, and I don't often have them available. 

Instead, what I do see more often are White Castle hamburgers, since they're available in Michigan. 

White Castle and Krystal don't usually overlap, but while we're on the road, we found a city that has both! And it's my birthday today! You know what that means? We're going to do a taste test comparison!  

Which burger chain will win out? Let's find out!

Not everyone enjoys these types of hamburgers. Actually some people think there's pretty terrible. 

Alli - Can I just have one bite and then eat my real dinner?

Good thing we're not just tasting the hamburgers. We're looking at 3 categories. Burgers, Fries, and Desserts. 

White Castle is our first stop. 
Did you know that White Castle is considered to be the world's first fast food hamburger chain? Founded in 1921 by Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram, they chose a white building and lots of stainless steel to project a feeling of cleanliness. 

Since they were founded in 1921 White Castle is celebrating their 100th birthday this year! Walt Anderson is credited with inventing the Hamburger Bun, and the Assembly Line Kitchen. In 2014, Time Magazine said that the White Castle Slider, not the McDonald's hamburger, was the most influential burger of all time. 

Way back in 1921 burgers were only 5 cents. Today they're a bit more expensive at 77 cents each. They've also got a lot of different things on the menu, like onion rings, chicken rings, fish nibblers, and cheese sticks.  

The burgers are made the same way they always have been. On a griddle on a bed of onions. The buns are placed on top to steam while the burgers cook. Once they're done, two pickles are added and the burgers are boxed up. 

Our second stop is of course Krystal. 
Founded in 1932 by Rody Davenport Jr and Glenn Sherrill, Krystal is 89 years old. The name supposedly comes from Mrs. Davenport seeing a lawn ornament in the shape of a crystal ball. They also wanted to focus on cleanliness, as in "Clean as a Crystal" but substituted a K for Krystal instead of a C. Is that a crystal ball in their logo? 

Krystal Burgers are made in a similar manner to White Castle's burgers. The one difference is that Krystal adds mustard standard, while White Castle Burgers are plain. 

We took our bounty to a nearby parking lot, parked in the shade of a tree, lowered the tailgate of the truck and started our taste test. 
I tried to get like-for-like from each store.
The burgers are pretty obvious, as were the french fries. I picked the best dessert that was offered. 
From Krystal we have 6 sliders, 1 medium french fry, a fried apple turnover, and a Strawberry Fanta. 
From White Castle there's 6 sliders, 1 medium french fry, a 5 count of mozzarella cheese sticks, a Cake on a Stick, and to drink a sweet iced tea. 

There's no better place to start than with the burgers. They look nearly identical. Both have square patties, square buns, and come in a paper box. 

Both have a layer of onions and 2 pickles. 

Krystal on the left has mustard, while White Castle does not. Otherwise they look to be the same dimensions, thickness, etc. 

Taste-wise though, I definitely have a favorite. 
The Krystal burger bun has a much better texture and flavor than the White Castle bun. I also like the mustard that comes with the Krystal burger. 
Theresa said that White Castle burgers have a specific scent. The Krystal burgers don't have that scent which is a good thing. The pickles (which I take off and generously donate to Theresa) have a stronger flavor on the White Castle sliders. That's enough to make the White Castle burgers barely squeak by Krystal burgers for her. 
Alli devoured her first Krystal burger. She likes mustard too. By the time she started on her White Castle burger she was surprised. To quote her "I thought I didn't like the White Castle burger, but it was the most delicious part of all." 
Likewise Ian also picked the White Castle burger as his favorite today. "Wow, that was amazing! I was surprised I liked White Castle better."
That's 3 votes for White Castle burgers and 1 vote for Krystal. 

For the French Fries, we have a split decision. Theresa and I thought the White Castle fries were plain old crinkle cut fries that we could easily make at home. They weren't salted all that well and were a bit soggy. The Krystal fries were the straight cut fries, they were crispy, and we liked them better. 
The kids had other opinions. They liked the crinkle cut fries just fine. 

One special mention for White Castle. They have a bigger selection for sides. Onion rings, onion petals, and my favorite Mozzarella Sticks. 

For the dessert, there was no question for Theresa and I. A hot, fried, apple turnover. It's crispy and hot and tastes like warm apples and cinnamon. Definitely a pleaser. 

The desserts from White Castle were a little different. It's a Birthday Cake... On A Stick!

My mind just goes to the movie WALL-E and the septuacentennial cupcake in a cup. 

Here's your $1.09 cake on a stick! It's dipped in super sweet frosting and covered in sprinkles. 
I thought it was just okay. Theresa bit into it and then spat it out. She was not a fan at all. 
So of course that means that the kids love it. Both picked the cake as their favorite dessert. 

So which restaurant is the ultimate winner? 
By the numbers, it's White Castle, with 3 votes for burgers, 2 votes for fries, and 2 votes for dessert. 
If you throw out the kids' votes though because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, then it's Krystal that wins. We have a split decision on the burgers, but Krystal wins the French Fry category as well as the Dessert category. 

It was fun to pull this together and see which restaurant we really liked best. And now it's giving me ideas for more things to compare in the future! We'll have to see what kinds of things we can try next!


  1. Happy Belated Birthday, Joe!! What an appropriate comparison taste test to do. Krystal is a new place for me (btw, wonderful article on your Mamaw!) Even from the picture, the Krystal burger bun looks more moist, too. Thin, crispy fries for me, too :-) Cake-on-the-stick is an interesting dessert idea but I think Theresa and you can make a much better tasting one! Were the beverages both good? Fun way to help celebrate your birthday, Joe! EOM

  2. I read a USA today article saying the only difference was w.c. steamed its burgers and k doesn't while I remember doing that when I worked there 15yrs ago.has that changed since then?or does k still steam theirs too?

    1. From what I could see, they were still steaming their burgers. Krystal has been doing it ever since I was little. I'll have to pay special attention when I go again.

    2. Yes they still do steam them

  3. Which two locations did you go to in the same city? I cannot find two that are nearby eachother! TIA

    1. Bowling Green Kentucky has a Krystal and White Castle that are less than a mile from each other!

    2. Nashville, TN has both. All around the city.

    3. I live near Nashville and Nashville has only 2 White Castles locations now. The one on White Bridge Rd closed a couple years ago.

  4. Nice article. I'm a Chicagoland boy, so I've eaten WC all my life. When I found Krystal in my 20s, I fell in love w/their mini chili dogs, lol. My vote for next comparison is Taco Bell vs. Del Taco!

    1. I used to eat Del Taco when I dated a girl in Toledo, OH and I remember thinking "these Tacos are KILLING Taco Bell" 🤣 but that was specifically for their regular Taco (Supreme style). When you start throwing in chalupas/dorito's locos tacos, The Bell ultimately takes the cake for me personally

  5. Hey my slider loving friend. I copied your article and put my pic on the page. Hope that's okay. I've been a fan of both for many years. First White Castle was in Cincinnati back in late 50's for a dime per burger. Got first Krystal in early 70's. I actually love them both and can go with either. Love the response to your article.

  6. I've only had white castle. Cincinnati is full of White Castle restaurants. I believe its close to 20 locations still open. Ive always wondered about krystals. Around here its a novelty. You get that random crave for a couple double cheese burgers then you may not go there until that next crave hits you again a year later. Definately is not a regular thing. You get a reminded of what you ate later on that night.

  7. Birthday cake on a stick , of course kids are going to pick this .

  8. I've always preferred Krystal over WC.

    We used to have a Krystal locally, but it closed when I was in Jr High/High School, and the WC right across the river just isn't the same.

    Their fries are horrible, no mini dogs, and no mustard, just not the same to us.

    Great blog and post about the two

  9. Great article. Krystal's are #1 for me.

  10. These two restaurants do not get enough credit for how delicious they are when you're hungry.

    1. So true I absolutely loved the White Castle!

  11. Fun little article here. I grew up in Tampa and we don’t have White Castle but I definitely have had hundreds of stomach grenades / belly bombs from Krystal. I finally got my chance to try WC while in Las Vegas last week. I was surprised at how nearly identical they are. I mean the bigger burger chains are massively different. A BK, Wendy’s and MCDonalds burger are nothing alike. But Krystal and WC are nearly identical. In fact, if you added mustard to the WC or removed it from Krystal, and did a blind taste test many would confuse them. I noticed the WC bun was a little flatter and softer but almost soggier. Maybe it was just the understaffed over worked location on the Vegas strip. I can more easily stuff a whole WC slider in my mouth. But the larger and denser bun of the Krystal would make this difficult.
    I have to admit I prefer the softer bun of WC but overall prefer the flavor of Krystal bun. If the Krystal bun was just a bit softer or 20% less thick it would be perfect.

  12. Happy belated birthday Joe! 🎂 I am planning a trip to Nashville to compare both slider franchises. Do you mind if I link you vlog in the description of my YouTube Channel? Thanks in advanced, and thank you for creating this web page.

    1. Thanks! Hope you enjoy the sliders! You can totally link to me! Have fun!

  13. I wish we had the luxury of have both in the same city. I've never been to a White Kastle and wish they come to Little Rock, Arkansas. I love Krystals and never had any issues with them. I just want more 24 hour restaurants to come to the city.

  14. Being from Chicago I grew up with WC and only found Krystal when moving to Atlanta. Which one is more known? Just ask Harold and Kumar 🤣😄🤣

    1. Oh yes, White Castle is definitely more well known. Even if you don't live near one, there's a good chance you can still find Frozen White Castle burgers at the grocery store. Can't say the same about Krystal burgers.

  15. Raised on White Castle. They use to deliver food to your car on roller skates. 74 years old!
    I now call them FART BURGERS...they give me plenty GAS!

  16. You can add brown mustard to wc if you like mustard but k comes with it if you don't know that you might not like them

  17. I have lived in Ohio all of my life but have travelled for work. I was also involved in volunteer squad and fire for years and we would stop at the 24 hour white castles after middle of the night hospital and morgue transports down to Columbus Ohio.
    My wife and I had the opposite experience with crystals coming g home from my sister's in TN. Our buns were dry and neither of us were fans of the mustard. Vici loves the clam strips and fish at white castles also.
    Safe travels.
    Keep making memories!!