How to make hot dogs

Your kiddos favorite go to for a picnic or a meal, hot dogs do not have to be just about the boring old  From mac ‘n’ cheese dogs to hot dog curry to hot dog hash, we’ve rounded up creative hot dog recipes that will change the way you think about franks. Scroll down for our top dogs!

You can’t let the summer slip by without having a chili dog—and if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right, with this recipe from Garlic & Zest. The “dilly” part comes from a pickle, which makes for a crisp and tangy contrast to the hearty chili. Get all the details by clicking here.

We like to keep a stash of hot dogs in the freezer for those times when cooking up an elaborate meal isn’t in the cards. This twist on chili dogs from Mama Gourmand is the perfect way to make an old favorite new again—and it’s a guaranteed kid-pleaser too. Find her recipe here.

Think hot dogs are only for lunch (or dinner)? This creative recipe from macheesmo.com brings hot dogs to the breakfast table—and the results are delicious. Visit macheesmo.com for the full recipe and lots of other delish delights. 

photo: Bob & Carlene

They loved grilled cheese. They love hot dogs. Why not switch things up and combine the two for a lunch that invokes the ballpark and comfort food all in one. Get the full recipe right here. 

photo: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

If you’re out of hot dog buns, don’t worry — this recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron will wow the whole family. The key to this delicious dish is the homemade barbecue sauce, which will come together in five minutes with ingredients you already have in your fridge and pantry. Click here to grab the recipe.

Try out this clever twist on pigs in a blanket, swapping crescent rolls for wonton wrappers. Don’t forget the key ingredient: gooey cheddar cheese! Click here to get the details from Cheap Recipe Blog.

photo: Or Whatever You Do

Here’s a perfect “the-fridge-is-nearly-empty” meal—just wrap hot dogs in a tortilla and fry them up, then you’ll have perfectly sized bites to dip in ketchup and mustard. To get the full recipe from Or Whatever you Do, click here.

Whether served as a finger-food appetizer or as dinner alongside a green salad, this recipe from Cook the Story is bound to be a home run. The mini hot dogs are topped with honey mustard and a peach salsa. Click here for the full recipe.

photo: The Midnight Baker

Hot dogs become something brand new with this recipe from The Midnight Baker. With a salty-sweet sauce made using pineapple juice, soy sauce and brown sugar, it’s going to be an instant hit with the kiddos. To get the full recipe, click here.

This fun idea from Damn Delicious gets the tots involved in the cooking. Have them thread uncooked spaghetti through hot dogs before you boil the pasta, and pair it with homemade or jarred marinara sauce for a delicious meal. To get the recipe, click here.

photo: Sweet Twist of Blogging

So what’s for dessert after all those hot dogs? Hot dog cakes, of course! If you’re an ambitious baker, it’ll be the perfect weekend project. Click here to get the details on how it’s done from Sweet Twist of Blogging.

To add a colorful Tex-Mex flair to your usual hot dog, top it with corn, beans, salsa and peppers — or let your little ones pick their own topping combinations. To get the recipe from Country Cleaver, click here.

Try this twist on the classic franks and beans that incorporates hearty sweet potatoes, crispy bacon and tangy barbecue sauce for a stick-to-your-ribs meal. Click here to get the recipe from The Weary Chef.

Got a tater tot lover in your family? Top some hot dogs with tater tots, cheese sauce, sour cream and crumbly bacon for a kid-approved meal. Click here to get more details from The Merry Thought.

Transform hot dogs into something totally unexpected with this great recipe from Curry and Comfort. It’s not spicy, just sweet and tangy, so even picky eaters will love this one. To snag the recipe, click here.

This dish from Cully’s Kitchen will come together in no time at all — just layer chili, hot dogs, tortillas and cheddar cheese to make a warming meal that the whole crew will love. Grab the recipe by clicking here.

Two kid-favorite foods combine in Taste and Tell’s awesome mac and cheese dogs recipe. Whip this one up as a decadent weekend treat. It’s sure to be a big hit with the whole fam. Grab the recipe by clicking here.

As if grilled hot dogs weren’t delicious enough already, this recipe from Barbara Bakes ups the ante by wrapping them in bacon and stuffing them with gouda cheese. Sign us up! Click here for the full recipe.

Have you ever tried a creative hot dog recipe? Let us know in the comments!

—Susie Foresman

featured photo: Alves Family via flickr 

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hot dog recipes

Tips and Tricks for Making Campfire Hot Dogs

Clean the grill grate or use cast iron: We’ve been to enough campsites to know 9 out of 10 campfire grill grates are practically unusable. Years of exposure has left most of them crusty and rusty. Moral of the story, don’t count on them. If your campfire has a clean grill, great! If not you can try to give it a clean with some steel wool. But if it’s beyond repair, you can either bring your own grill grate from home and lay it on top. Or you can just use a cast iron skillet to sear your hot dogs. ProTip: If you use a cast iron skillet, we highly recommend using butter while searing!

The Two Zone Heat Setup: The best way to cook hot dogs over a campfire is a two zone heat setup. That means one half of your grill is hot and the other is warm. Since most campfires have fixed grills, you’ll have to build or reposition your fire in a way to achieve this effect.

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As with virtually all types of campfire cooking, you want to be cooking over embers, not flames. Cooking over an open flame will result in burnt, burst skin, soot-covered dogs. So get your fire started at least an hour ahead of time and let it burn down to a nice bed of embers. Or, if you’re short on time, pack along a bag of charcoal.

The two zone heat setup will allow you a lot of versatility to both cook and keep things warm. Which leads us to our preferred hot dog cooking technique…

Poach, Then Grill: Taking a page from Kenji Lopez-Alt’s book from Serious Eats, we’re big fans of the poach first, grill second approach. This is more critical for sausages, but it has a lot of benefits for hot dogs too.

The idea is you get a container (disposable aluminum baking pan or high sided cast iron skillet) and poach the hot dogs in a liquid base. We’re fans of dumping in a jar of sauerkraut, a can of beer, and adding in some mustard. Place this over the hot section of your grill and bring it to a light simmer. This will bring the hot dogs up to temperature, keep them plump and juicy, and infuse them with some additional flavor.

When you’re ready to grill, move your container to the warm section of the grill and then pull out your hot dogs and place them on the hot side of the grill. You just want to get a nice even char the outside without breaking the skin casing. Once the dogs are done, you can either serve them immediately or return them to the container to keep them warm (this is a great tip if you’re cooking a lot of hot dogs for a group!).

Stick Roasting [Alternate cook method]: We’ve had mixed results using this method, but if you want to roast your hot dogs over an open fire using a stick here’s our advice: wait until you have embers to cook over. We can’t stress this enough.

Use a stick with two prongs otherwise, your dog will spin on the axis and you’ll have limited control. Better yet, use a hot dog basket like this, which exposes all sides of the hot dog to the flame. Be patient and go for medium sustained heat. High heat will risk bursting the casing and releasing all the juices.

New England Style Top Sliced Buns: We haven’t eaten enough brands of hot dogs to have a strong opinion which is better, but when it comes to buns, we have some thoughts!

New England style top-sliced buns are a structurally superior hot dog conveyance system than the most widely available side sliced buns. Top sliced buns (most commonly used for lobster rolls) have a flat base, so they can be placed on a plate and not roll over. They also have a much slimmer profile, so won’t ever end up with a disappointing mouthful of just bread. If you can find them, get top-sliced hot dog buns! They’re worth it!

Grill buns on the outside: Here is an area that’s flummoxed us for years: how to toast the inside of your hot dog buns? The answer is you don’t. We’ve split dozens of buns over the years trying to perfectly splay them out on the grill in order to get the inside. It’s far better to just grill the outside of the buns (which is very easy when using the previously mentioned flat sided, top sliced buns!). Besides, you want the inside of the bun to be a flexible as possible to accommodate all your toppings.

If you’re using a cast iron skillet or griddle, a real pro level way to prepare your buns would be to toast them in a little bit of butter on both sides.

Condiments

While this topic is hotly contested across the internet, we believe this to be the ideal sequencing for layering your condiments. But first things first. Put the hot dog in the bun.

Wet condiments go on first in the cracks along the side. We like a thick bead of mustard down one edge and a thick bead of relish down the other.

Chunky condiments like diced onions and sauerkraut go on second.

Featured condiments go on last, think shredded cheese, pickled jalapenos, etc.

Finally, top with salt & pepper

While these are all classic hot condiments, we believe there’s one topping which is often left out but can really bring your hot dogs to the next level. And it’s usually sitting on the plate next to your hot dog.

Potato chips!

A few crumbled potato chips layered on top of your hot dogs adds the missing crunchy element that completes the textural spectrum. We’re big fans of Kettle Brand chips as they come in a wide range of amazing flavors – nearly all of which pair well with a hot dog. So if you feel like your hot dog is missing something, we suggest adding some crunch!

Our Favorite Gourmet Hot Dog Combinations

The Classic: Sauerkraut + Mustard + Relish

Buffalo Style: Wing sauce mixed with mayo + blue cheese crumbles or bleu cheese dressing + sliced green onions

Nacho Dogs: Jalapenos + pickled red onions + cheddar cheese + salsa + jalapeno chips + cilantro

Chili Dog: Chili + cheddar cheese + diced white onions + sliced green onions

Reuben Dog: Sauerkraut + Swiss cheese + Thousand Island Dressing + dill pickle chips

Elote Dog: Grilled corn + mayo + cotija cheese + cilantro + lime + chile

Hawaiian Dog: Grilled pineapple + teriyaki sauce mixed with mayo + grilled red onions + Hawaiian roll + tropical salsa chips

Firecracker Hot Dog – Spicy Heat, Great Textures and Flavors

This dog will become your favorite if you love some heat, spicy goodness and a crunchy texture. The key of course if selecting good quality hot dogs.

Reading the ingredients is always crucial to ensure you are buying something which will star with flavor. The dogs I used for this recipe are from Niman Ranch, a mixture of pork and beef (without nitrates, raised without antibiotics or hormones, all vegetarian fed and are gluten-free).

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One might wonder if hot dogs really can differ all that much and the answer is a resounding YES, they can. Like any other cut of meat, you usually get what you pay for.

A spicy Firecracker Hot Dog with fried jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and grilled onions

What’s in a Firecracker Hot Dog?

The Firecracker Hot Dog features a melted slice of Pepper Jack cheese, grilled or sautéed red onion slices topped with crispy, gluten-free or regular beer-battered deep-fried jalapeno peppers for a kick.

Each bite is indescribably delicious!

One thing when working with chile peppers is that the heat level can vary incredibly. In this case I found once fried the jalapenos almost tasted sweet without much heat; the opposite can be true as well so it’s always best to taste before serving to gauge the spicy-factors for your diners.

TIP when working with chile peppers: Consider using food safe vinyl gloves and washing hands diligently, avoiding touching any mucus membranes after handling chile peppers.

Whole and sliced jalapeno chile peppers

Cured VS Uncured Hot Dogs

Cured hot dogs are preserved with nitrites and nitrates. These chemicals help preserve meat so it doesn’t spoil (it may also affect the color of the hot dogs).

Uncured hot dogs have no preservatives so it’s especially important to keep them refrigerated until cooking/reheating them.

Blue platter of all beef hot dogs

Myth Busting: Don’t Pierce Hot Dogs with a Fork Before Cooking!

Especially for grilling and steaming there is a school of thought to piece the hot dogs with a fork before cooking. This allows venting of any steam from the juices heating up; the goal is to prevent the hot dog case from bursting if cooked over high heat on the grill or in a microwave.

DON’T PEIRCE HOT DOGS! This allows the juices to come out and the hot dog to become dry and less flavorful. The cooking methods I’m sharing here are successful WITHOUT piercing the hot dog.

Hot Dogs on a grill grate

How to Grill Hot Dogs

Grilling hot dogs adds great flavor and those grill marks we love! Exploding hot dogs can be avoided by cooking on the grill in the Indirect Method. The grill is heated however the hot dogs are placed over an area of the grill that is NOT heated directly underneath.

For a gas grill: heat an outside burner but grill the hot dogs on the area just next to it with no direct heat underneath.

For a charcoal grill: move the heated charcoal to one side of the grill and grill the hot dogs on the other side. This can be done manually or using an insert for your grill.

  • Place the hot dogs on the prepared grill grate NOT ABOVE the heat source. Want some grill marks? Place them on an angle to the grates to get gorgeous grill marks!
  • Grill the hot dogs about 1 minute per side to fully heat through. Turn using heatproof tongs.
  • To crisp up the outer casing the hot dogs can be put on the direct heat side of the grill for a few seconds. Watch carefully to ensure no burning or case bursting.

Hot Dogs on Grill with grill marks

Hot to Steam Hot Dogs

An alternative to boiling, steaming hot dogs reheat them fully though do not add more flavor as with grilling or panfrying.

  • In a pot with a steamer insert (or using a steamer basket inserted into a pot) add a couple inches of water (so the steamer insert/basket is still above the surface of the water). Bring to a boil.
  • Add the hotdogs to the steamer and cook until the internal temperature reaches at least 140 degrees (can be measured with an instant read thermometer); approximately 5 minutes cooking time.

Silver 6-quart Slow Cooker

How to Cook Hot Dogs in a Slow Cooker/Crock Pot (method for a crowd or party)

This method of how to cook hot dogs is practical for a crowd. It’s great for:

  • a gathering when you need loads of hot dogs
  • for a serve yourself buffet allowing guests to help themselves over a period of time (think a football game viewing)
  • or for tailgating if you have power to plug in the slow cooker

A large quantity of hot dogs may be heated (up to 48 for a 4-quart slow cooker and 60 for a larger 6 quart slow cooker). There is a key to success for this method: DO NOT ADD WATER.

The hot dogs will steam in the heat and release moisture as they warm. Adding water may cause the casings to split releasing the flavorful juices.

  • Add the desired number of hotdogs for your slow cooker; stand them upright if possible for even heating (NOTE: extra long hot dogs will not be able to stand upright; if laying them horizontally rotate them once or twice during cooking for even heating)
  • Heat on High for 2 hours or Low for 4 hours

How to Panfry Hot Dogs in a Skillet (Pan Steaming)

This method is a combination of actually steaming the hot dogs but then allowing them to brown in the pan when the water evaporates. Very similar to how Pot Stickers are cooked. The benefit is the hot dog heats though but also gets a nice crisping of the outside.

  • In a large skillet add 1-inch of water and heat to medium-high.
  • As the water comes to a boil add a few hot dogs leaving plenty of room in the skillet.
  • Using heatproof tongs roll the hot dogs allowing them to brown on all sides.

Alternatively, butter can be melted in the skillet and the hot dogs may be browned until steamy hot.

How to Cook Hot Dogs in the Oven

Roasting hot dogs in the oven is a wonderful way to develop great flavor similar to grilling them.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan with foil.
  • Add the hot dogs to the prepared pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until the hot dogs begin to make a sizzling noise.
  • To crisp up the outside they may be put under the broiler for a few seconds after baking.
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Roasting hot dogs over an open campfire

How to Roast Hot Dogs over a Campfire

Cooking food outdoors when picnicking or camping is a big part of the fun. How to cook hot dogs over a campfire is one of the simplest methods ever.

I recommend using a telescoping roasting fork. They are designed for over fire cooking of marshmallows or hot dogs and are sturdy.

The telescoping feature ensures you can get the hot dogs over the fire but keep yourself a safe distance away. They usually can roast 2 hot dogs at a time.

The other option for a larger number of hot dogs is using a grilling basket designed for hot dogs and sausages. It allows multiple hot dogs to be grilled at once. NOTE: grilling baskets generally do NOT have telescoping handles so if using over an open fire grilling gloves are recommended as the handle heats up.

  • Build a fire and allow the coals to become orange
  • Insert the hot dog lengthwise onto the cooking fork (or 3-4 foot long green sharpened stick if you are backpacking)
  • Turn the hot dog constantly over the fire until it’s fully heated through; approximately 2-4 minutes.

How to Boil Hot Dogs

Though this was the only way I ever had hot dogs prepared when I was growing up it’s not a method I ever use now. It works well to heat the hot dog through but it can drain some of the flavor away and leaves a soggy consistency.

Having said that, hot dogs can be boiled in other liquids, such a beer, or with herbs in the water (like garlic) to enhance the flavor and offset and flavor dilution from boiling.

  • Select a sauce pan larger enough to accommodate the number of hot dogs you wish to boil with room.
  • Fill the pan with water and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add the hot dogs and boil for 6 minutes. Drain.

The boiled hot dogs may also be quickly pan fried in oil or butter to crisp the outer surface and add more flavor.

Firecracker Hot Dog - BoulderLocavore.com

Now that you are an expert on How to Cook Hot Dogs, here are some more hot dog recipe ideas:

If you’ve enjoyed this guide on How to Cook Hot Dogs and tried this Firecracker Hot Dog recipe or any other recipe on BoulderLocavore.com please don’t forget to RATE THE RECIPE and let me know where you found it in the comments below, I love hearing from you!

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How to Cook Hot Dogs: Firecracker Hot Dog Recipe – Step by Step:

Firecracker Hot Dogs. Melted Pepper Jack cheese, grilled red onion and beer-battered gluten-free jalapeno slices! - BoulderLocavore.com

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 35 minutes

Servings 1 (additional servings

Calories 382 kcal

Author Toni Dash

  • 1 Hot Dog
  • 1 Hot Dog Bun (gluten-free or with gluten depending on preference)
  • 1 deli slice Pepper Jack cheese per hot dog (hand sliced equivalent amount may be substituted)
  • 1 large Jalapeno chile pepper per serving
  • 1 large slice Red Onion per serving: 1/4 inch thick , sliced to form rings
  • Fresh Cilantro leaves for garnish

Ingredients for Beer Batter and jalapeno deep frying:*

  • Vegetable , Canola or Sunflower oil for deep frying
  • 1 cup Gluten-Free Flour or gluten All Purpose Flour (I used King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour blend)
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bottle) Lager-style Gluten-Free Beer
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper , freshly ground

Instructions for Beer Battered Deep Fried Jalapeno peppers:

  1. To prepare jalapeno peppers: Slice off the stem of the jalapeno. Using a paring knife, gently cut out the inner membrane and seeds of the pepper, leaving the outside of the pepper intact. Tip: I keep a pair of long needle-nose pliers in my kitchen tool drawer specifically for cooking projects and they work perfectly for this step.
  2. Slice the jalapeno(s) into rings approximately 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Pour 2-3 inches of oil into a medium size heavy pan or pot. Position a cooking thermometer in the oil but not touching the bottom of the pan. Over medium to medium-high heat, heat the oil to 375 degrees.
  4. Set paper towels on a plate of baking sheet to drain the fried jalapenos.
  5. In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients for the beer-batter. Slowly pour in some of the beer and whisk to combine allowing the foam to subside. Pour in the remaining beer and whisk to combine. The batter will be thin.
  6. Using heatproof tongs, dip jalapeno slices individually into the batter, allowing them to be coated fully. Lift coated sliced above the batter and allow to drain slightly.
  7. Place battered jalapeno slices into the heated oil and cook for a few minutes until they begin to turn golden brown. Remove and place on prepared paper towels. Repeat for all slices.

Instruction for cooking onion slices:

  1. Grilling: brush each side of the onion slice with oil and allow to grill a few minutes per side until grill marks are present and the onion softens becoming slightly translucent. Separate onion into rings when removed from grill.
  2. Pan sauteing; Pour a small amount of oil into a heavy skillet. Cook onion slices over medium-high heat, stirred periodically to separate onion slice into rings, allowing them to cook until soft and translucent.

Preparing the Firecracker Hot Dogs:

  1. Cook hot dogs by desired preparation method (grilling or pan frying preferred). On the grill or in a skillet, place a slice of Pepper Jack cheese on a hot dog and allow it to being to melt.
  2. Place hot dog in a bun on serving plate. Top with the sauteed onions, fried Jalapeno slices and cilantro leaves; serve.

*any leftover batter may be used to batter and fry other vegetables.

Nutrition Facts

Firecracker Hot Dog

Amount Per Serving

Calories 382 Calories from Fat 81

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 9g 14%

Saturated Fat 2g 10%

Cholesterol 21mg 7%

Sodium 2938mg 122%

Potassium 111mg 3%

Total Carbohydrates 51g 17%

Dietary Fiber 1g 4%

Sugars 4g

Protein 11g 22%

Vitamin C 1.4%

Calcium 1.1%

Iron 66.2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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