Hot Dogs: the best version of the classic American recipe

Total time: 40 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 10 people
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By Cookist
braised onions (optional)
4 cups
beer (optional)
2 12-ounce cans
natural casing all-beef hot dogs
2 pounds
hot dog buns, for serving
for the topping (optional)
pickle relish

No summertime barbecue is complete without hot dogs. This classic American dish has German origins. Frankfurter sausages were introduced to the US by German immigrants during the 1800s. Putting the sausages in a bun was an American invention. As for the name “hot dog”, sausages have been called “dogs” since the 19th century.

There are several ways to cook hot dogs: grilling, frying, boiling, and baking. When properly done, each method will yield a juicy, moist sausage you can pop in a soft bun and top with your favorite fixings. Hot dogs are a fantastic, easy meal that both kids and adults love, so make sure they're on the menu for your next backyard cookout!

What are the Best Hot Dogs to Use?

All-beef hot dogs are the most flavorful type of hot dogs. However, beef and pork, pork, chicken, turkey, and even plant-based hot dogs are delicious, too.

Some hot dogs are cured (with sodium nitrate), while others are uncured (with celery nitrates). There's not much of a difference in terms of taste, but there are some concerns about adverse health effects associated with sodium nitrate.

You can choose hot dogs with natural casing or skinless hot dogs. It's all about how you cook the hot dogs and the toppings and condiments you use.

How to Grill Hot Dogs at Home

Grilling hot dogs is surprisingly easy. With this method of cooking the hot dogs in beer and onions, you can infuse the sausages with incredible flavor while keeping them perfectly juicy and tender. Here's what to do.

Start by heating your grill on high heat for 10 minutes. Make sure to keep the lid closed. If you want to add flavor, pour the beer and braised onions plus their juices into an aluminum tray, otherwise skip to the next step. Tuck the dogs into the onions, then pop the tray on the grill. Bring it to a simmer, then scoot the tray to the cooler side of the grill. Crack open the grill vents and cook the hot dogs with the lid closed for about five minutes. Turn them over and cook for another five.

Now it's time to char the dogs. Put the hot dogs on the hot side of the grate and grill them for a few minutes, turning periodically, so all the sides get nice and browned. Serve the dogs in buns, add your toppings and condiments, and enjoy!


Hot Dog Cooking Methods

No grill? No problem! You can just as easily sauté your hot dogs on the stovetop, cook them in the microwave, in the oven, or boil them. We'll take you through each cooking method below.

Boiling Hot Dogs

To boil dogs, all you need to do is put the hot dogs into a pot with boiling water and cook them for 4 to 6 minutes. Let them drain on paper towels for a minute or so, then go ahead and assemble your hot dog. If you choose to boil your hot dogs, try cooking them in beer to infuse them with more flavor.

Making Hot Dogs in the Oven

Cooking hot dogs in the oven is simple as well. Arrange the dogs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 15 minutes at 400F. If you'd like to brown them up, turn on the broiler for a few minutes.

Microwaving Hot Dogs

Making hot dogs in the microwave is probably the easiest, most low-maintenance way to cook hot dogs. Simply wrap the hot dogs in a damp paper towel (not too tight, not too loose), and cook them for 30 seconds. After the initial 30 seconds, microwave in 15-second intervals until heated through.

Frying Hot Dogs

Frying is another quick way to cook hot dogs. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the hot dogs for 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Pop them in a bun, add toppings, and enjoy!

Can You Make Hot Dogs From Scratch?

Homemade hot dogs are a fun project, and it's a great way to enjoy hot dogs without worrying about additives. The best part is you can customize your flavorings. It's easier to make homemade hot dogs if you have a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer. Trying to stuff hot dogs by hand is incredibly labor-intensive.

To make hot dogs from scratch, you'll need beef (or pork, chicken, or turkey) and sausage casings, plus spices. Use any spices you like, but paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, celery seed, ground coriander, mustard powder, salt, and pepper, always work well. Use a meat grinder to grind your meat of choice. Combine the spices and meat. Cover and put the mixture in the fridge for about half an hour. Grind it again. This will give you the best hot dog texture.

Next up, wash the casings well to get rid of the salt. Let them soak for about half an hour. Place one open end of the casing under the faucet and run water through it to remove excess salt. Use your hot dog stuffer to fill the casings. Once you've filled them up, you can twist the casings to make the individual hot dogs. Store them in the freezer for up to one month, or in the fridge for up to two days.

Tips for Making Classic Hot Dogs

When grilling, make sure to spray or oil the grill grates before you start cooking.

Use any method you like to cook your hot dogs. Grilling or frying will give you a nice, brown, crisp outside, but you can just as easily bake, boil, or microwave them.

No need to slit the hot dogs. This will cause the juices to leak out.

Toast your hot dog buns to give them more flavor and help keep the buns from falling apart.

Hot Dog Topping Ideas

Take your hot dog to the next level with toppings. Add sauerkraut, grilled onions, chopped raw onions, or pickle relish.

You can also top the dogs with cheese, chili, crumbled bacon, jalapeños, or chopped green onions.

No matter what toppings you choose, don't forget the condiments! Yellow mustard, spicy mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce, sriracha, and coleslaw will make your hot dog taste gourmet.

What to Serve with Hot Dogs

Enjoy your hot dogs with homemade French fries or potato chips, grilled corn, potato salad, or baked beans. Any of the classic barbecue or potluck side dishes will make amazing partners for homemade hot dogs.

Can You Store Homemade Hot Dogs?

Wrap and store cooked hot dogs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three to 4 days. You can store hot dogs in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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Preheat your grill on high for 10 minutes with the cover closed.

Put the braised onions plus juices into an aluminum tray.

Pour in the beer.

Put the hot dogs in the tray, partially covered by the onions. Place on the grill and heat until the liquid is simmering.

Once simmering, put the tray on the cooler side of the grill.

Open the vents of your grill. Cook hot dogs with the lid down for 5 minutes.

Flip, then cook for another 5 minutes.

Place the hot dog buns on the hot side of the grill grate to brown up, for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve in hot dog buns with mustard or ketchup.

You can also top with onions, and add desired toppings and condiments.


You can use sauerkraut instead of braised onions to cook and flavor your hot dogs.

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