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White Castle vs. Krystal: 7 Major Differences

It's the tale of two slider chains, but there are some key differences between the two fast-food spots.

When the mini burger craving strikes, there are few fast-food chains more well-known for this staple menu item than White Castle and Krystal. These two chains are both celebrated for their small square-shaped sliders, with White Castle often credited as the inventor of this iconic menu item.

Founded in Wichita, Kan., in 1921, White Castle is the first fast-food hamburger chain in the United States. The burger joint's founder, Bill Ingram, chose the name "White Castle" to represent cleanliness and strength. The chain heavily emphasized these elements to alleviate meat-related concerns following the release of Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle, which exposed the unsanitary conditions of the meatpacking industry. Krystal had a similar thought process.

In 1932, Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill opened the first Krystal location in Chattanooga, Tenn. According to the chain's website, the two were "sticklers for cleanliness." After Davenport's wife noticed the cleanliness of a crystal ball lawn ornament, phrases like "crystal clean" or "clean as crystal" came to mind. And the rest is history.

There's no doubt White Castle and Krystal are similar in their beginnings and menu offerings, but the chains have some distinctions, too, which are worth noting. If you're curious how the two fast-food spots compare, here are six differences between White Castle and Krystal.

Store footprint

White castle restaurant

Depending on where you are in the U.S., you might only have access to a White Castle or Krystal—not both. In fact, the only states with both chains are Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida. White Castle, which is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, has more than 350 locations across the Midwest, Southwest, and New York area. The chain previously operated restaurants in other countries, but these locations are no longer open.

Meanwhile, Krystal has a smaller restaurant footprint. Based in Dunwoody, Ga., the burger chain currently has 201 locations, primarily in the South. Krystal also opened its first Puerto Rico location in November 2022.

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krystal sliders, fries, and drinks
Krystal / Facebook

As previously mentioned, sliders are the star at these fast-food chains, but the offerings aren't identical. Visit a White Castle location, and you can choose from a lengthier list of mini burgers and sandwiches featuring beef, chicken, fish, Impossible beef, or the limited-time sloppy joe ground beef. To make its iconic beef patties even more distinctive, White Castle adds five holes to each one, which the chain says adds flavor and helps the patties cook faster. White Castle even patented this cooking method.

At Krystal, customers have fewer slider options, with the chain only offering beef-based sliders, known as "Krystals," and crispy chicken-based sliders, known as "Chiks." These are come in a few different varieties. It's also important to note that menu item availability can vary.

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Breakfast options

white castle waffle sliders
White Castle / Facebook

Your fast-food breakfast order might look a little different, depending on which chain you visit. Yes, you can order breakfast sliders at both places, but peruse the menus even further, and you'll see each chain serves some distinctive offerings.

For instance, White Castle has a few different waffle options, such as the Belgian Waffle Slider. This breakfast item features egg, bacon or sausage, and a choice of American, jalapeño, or smoked cheddar cheese, all sandwiched between two Belgian-style waffles. At Krystal, customers can order biscuit breakfast sandwiches, scrambled egg bowls (aka Scrambler Bowls), glazed doughnuts referred to as "Glazed Bombs," and a three-egg breakfast plate.

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Additional food options

krystal corn pups, chili cheese pups, fries, ketchup, and mustard
Krystal / Facebook

When comparing the chains' sides, White Castle has more variety. The Ohio-based chain not only dishes out classic offerings like french fries, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks, but it also serves some chain-specific menu items like Chicken Rings, Cheddar Cheese Rings, and Fish Nibblers.

Krystal's sides are limited to fries, chili, tater tots, and Glaze Bombs. However, the chain has loaded tots (in addition to loaded fries, which White Castle also serves), and Pups, which include corn dogs and hot dogs. White Castle doesn't have these offerings.

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Grocery store presence

white castle frozen sliders at the grocery store
The Image Party / Shutterstock

As White Castle says on its website, "If you have a microwave, you have a White Castle." The burger slinger offers frozen versions of a few popular menu items, which include sliders, Chicken Rings, and Castle Bites. Fans can purchase these products online or in stores. Unfortunately for Krystal fans, the chain hasn't yet made an appearance in grocery stores.

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miso robotics flippy
Miso Robotics

Robots making food? That's nothing new for White Castle. In September 2020, the burger chain deployed Flippy, a fry-cooking robot created by Miso Robotics, in the Chicago area. In 2021, White Castle upgraded to "Flippy 2" after seeing "an immediate positive impact on daily operations" and employee productivity, according to a 2022 press release. The robot's tasks include filling fry baskets, submerging fries in oil, and moving the fries to be handled by workers. Krystal hasn't ventured into this space.

In October 2023, White Castle told that Flippy is still being deployed and will eventually be in almost one-third of the chain's restaurants.


krystal slider
Krystal / Facebook

When it comes to the cost of menu items, pricing can vary by location. With that being said, you may find one chain to be a more cost-effective option, even if it isn't a significant price difference. At one Florida-based White Castle, the Original Slider costs $1.19. Meanwhile, the Original Krystal goes for $1.89 at a similar location in the Sunshine State. A Crispy Chicken slider at the same White Castle costs $2.79. This is $1.11 cheaper than the the Krystal's Classic Chik, which doesn't have cheese, and sells for $3.69.

These price patterns might not be reflective across all menu items. For example, White Castle's Double Slider costs $2.78, while the Double Krystal goes for $2.49.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna