19 Fun Ways to Cook Hot Dogs
Topped, wrapped, chopped, and topped some more, these dogs go way beyond the bun
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I live in a hot dog family:
Growing up, my favorite, favorite dinner was Spaghetti with Hot Dog Sauce — our version was nothing but sautéed sliced wieners mixed with a jar of marinara. It came from a place of relative poverty, since the hot dogs were cheaper than ground beef, but I didn’t realize that until I was much older. My Italian-American husband is horrified when I mention my childhood comfort food, though his hot-dog-loving side acknowledges the appeal of sliced-and-browned franks.
Speaking of sliced-and-browned, my son wrote his first recipe when he was eight — his hand-written instructions call it “Musterd Dogs.” I can’t share the secret ingredient, but the basic technique involves chopping up hot dogs, pan-frying them until they’re crispy little nubs, then dousing them in a sauce made with spicy brown mustard. He’s 13 now, but Musterd Dogs still make him happy. He ate a batch for lunch today, in fact.
For nine consecutive years our Father’s Day tradition has involved a jaunt to Connecticut for some of my husband’s favorites dogs. They’re well worth the drive up from NYC. (Seriously, Connecticut’s hot dogs are so good, there’s a documentary about them.) This year, when our favorite spot turned out to be closed due to the pandemic, my husband practically cried.
So yeah, I know a thing or two about hot dogs. But until relatively recently my frankfurter perspective was pretty limited. I’d enjoyed all the usual suspects on a dog — mustard, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut, baked beans, and, when in Chicago, their fully-loaded dog — yet that’s as far as my choices went. Over the last few years, though, the world seems to have undergone an explosion of hot dog innovation. I’m awed by the creative dishes people make with these humble, inexpensive links. For instance, the following recipes for how to cook hot dogs.
Jump ahead to:
5 all-American classic hot dogs
Before we branch out, we need to talk about some iconic frankfurters.
My son’s first hot dog was a “dirty water dog” from a city street cart. He wasn’t too big on toppings (still isn’t, in fact), but if he wanted to go all-in as a New Yorker he’d have tried one with everything: sauerkraut, brown mustard, and a sweet-and-tangy onion sauce.
Until I was an adult, I had no idea anyone ate hot dogs any way other than the perfect New York version. Chicago’s dog is famous in its own right, and it’s nothing like my hometown frank. It features poppy seed buns, first of all, and also yellow mustard, pickle relish, sliced tomatoes, chopped onion, dill pickle spears, sport (pickled) peppers, and celery salt.
This is the uber-chili dog, topped with a meaty chili (no beans), chopped white onion, and mustard. Making the chili from scratch is key here.
When we’re not heading north from New York to grab some Connecticut hot dogs, we’re crossing the Hudson River for New Jersey-style franks. These come in a hero roll (or even better, a special pizza bread roll) and get topped with fried onions, peppers, and potatoes.
Most of the summertime fairs are canceled this year, which means I won’t get my corn dog fix. Good thing they’re relatively easy to make at home! I don’t do a lot of deep-frying, but for a perfect corn dog I’ll make an exception.
3 newfangled pups
These are definitely still traditional hot dogs in hot dog buns, but the toppings (and the buns themselves) get playful.
This sounds like the ultimate kids’ food, but take a look: Don’t you want to take a big ol’ bite of that crunchy, buttery bun, and to feel the gooey cheese stretch out as you pull it back? It’s a shockingly simple way to make an irresistible dog.
Living a low-carb keto lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bunned hot dog like everyone else. This recipe for keto hot dogs has you wrap your dogs in Fat Head dough (if you’re doing keto, you know what I mean) and bake them, then top with chili and cheddar cheese.
Chicken as a hot dog topping? Sure. Shredded chicken doused in buffalo sauce? Yeah, baby. Naturally, ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles are also involved. If you’re a wing lover, this is definitely your new favorite wiener.
3 corn dog variations
Yes, a deep-fried, cornbread-coated frank on a stick is a beautiful thing. But there’s more than one way to corn a dog.
If you’ve got a waffle iron and some cornbread mix, you’re minutes away from a crispy corn dog. The batter also includes some sour cream, shredded cheddar, and chopped chives, for just a little bit more flavor.
When my son has a bunch of friends over (I’m sure it’ll happen again someday), this is my go-to option. It couldn’t be simpler: You put cornbread batter into mini-muffin cups, submerge a thick slice of hot dog into each, and bake. In 20 minutes, they’re on the table.
These are more than just gluten-free — they’re completely grain-free. And the batter recipe offers two versions, one made with almond flour and the other with chickpea flour (in case you’re nut-free, too). The almond flour ones are crunchier, but even a slightly soft corn dog is better than no corn dog at all.
3 pigs in different blankets
Who doesn’t love a cocktail frank rolled up in dough? (Sometimes, my son “cooks” dinner for the family by baking a box of frozen Hebrew National franks in a blanket.) But they don’t have to be exactly what you expect.
Using just five ingredients (and one of them is optional), you can make a sweet, salty, and spicy update. I love the combination of apricot preserves and sriracha — it goes inside the blankets and also makes a great dipping sauce. Starting with crescent rolls in a tube gets you eating your mini hot dogs in just half an hour.
The twist with these nibbles comes in the blanket itself. Instead of crescent dough or puff pastry, this clever recipe pours pancake batter into pig-shaped silicone molds. Of course, without the molds you lose some of the charm, but I could see this working with any shape mold you have. The recipe suggests dipping in the usual hot dog condiments, but I think maple syrup is perfect.
What do you get when you tuck a cocktail weenie inside a jalapeño popper, then wrap the whole thing in puff pastry? A flaky-spicy-salty-cheesy burst of indulgence, that’s what. This hits all my husband’s favorite flavor notes — he can devour them by the dozen.
5 international dogs
While hot dogs seem like a quintessential American food, they didn’t originate here — and countries all over the world have put their own mark on them.
Here’s an intriguing approach: A combo cheese stick/hot dog inspired by Korean street food. Rather than cornbread batter, these get dipped in a mixture that’s very similar to pancake batter. Then they’re dipped in panko before hitting the hot oil — and when they come out, they get a dusting of sugar and a drizzle of condiments. I can definitely dig the crunchy-salty-sweet combo.
Chef Pati Jinich created these as an homage to the hot dogs she devoured as a girl in Mexico. She wraps the franks in bacon first, which is awesome in itself. But the spectacle happens on the bun: melted cheddar cheese lines it, and the bacon dog gets topped with a cooked salsa featuring pickled jalapeños, ketchup, and mustard.
It may look like a somewhat standard hot dog in a bun, but it holds surprises. Those abundant toppings include mustard and ketchup, of course, but also crushed potato chips, coleslaw, and a homemade pineapple sauce for a touch of sweetness.
When it comes to toppings, nothing beats a Brazilian hot dog. In this recipe the plumped-up pups are blanketed with a seasoned ground beef mixture and shredded mozzarella cheese, and then things get really interesting. Options include steamed corn, steamed peas, pico de gallo, grated Parmesan cheese, shoestring potatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped parsley, chopped olives, grated carrots, and even mashed potatoes.
Our last option ditches the bun entirely. Think of this as a semi-traditional Bolognese sauce, made sweet and savory with the Filipino addition of sliced hot dogs and banana ketchup (yup, it’s made from bananas). If you don’t have banana ketchup, the author recommends using the regular kind and adding some extra sugar. The jarred sauce my mom used for our Spaghetti with Hot Dog Sauce was pretty darn sweet. I can totally see this recipe becoming my replacement for it.
More perfect hot dogs
Did we miss your favorite dog or favorite cooking method? Let’s keep exploring, because the best hot dogs are all about what you're in the mood for. If you're thinking of grilling for a cookout, how about Hawaiian-style grilled hot dogs with pineapple, or bbq bacon-wrapped hot dogs with gouda cheese? For an easy method, try oven-roasting on a rack set on a baking sheet: Oven-Baked Sonoran Dogs are wrapped in bacon and topped with pinto beans, onion, and lime mayo. To get grill marks and a nice char without turning on the grill, you can pop cowboy dogs right under the broiler. And keep those tongs handy, because on Yummly we have thousands more hot dog recipes to choose from.