Photo by Victoria Shes / Unsplash
By Kristine Hansen
Since hot dogs can go directly from the freezer to the grill, they are the ultimate cabin convenience food. So, keep a package or two in the freezer for unexpected company, a quick lunch or snack, or when you forget to defrost something for dinner! Below, we've come up with the 10 essential tips to grill the best hot dog this summer. Plus, scroll down for 9 inventive twists on your typical hot dog toppings!
Here are 10 tips to help you be top dog at the grill this summer:
1. Like that snap when you bite into a hot dog? If so, go for natural-casing franks which firm up as you grill. Skinless franks have a softer bite.
2. Diet-conscious cabin dwellers can opt for chicken, turkey or soy protein veggie dogs. They taste just like their pork or beef counterparts and grill up as easily, but they are significantly lower in fat and calories. Check labels to make sure sodium has not been increased to replace the flavor from fat.
3. Most hot dogs are fully cooked so they only need heating. Grill over medium heat for 4–7 minutes, depending on size and package directions. They’re done when evenly browned, just before the skin begins to split.
4. Place hot dogs on the grill diagonally so they’ll stay in place on the cooking grid. Roll them frequently with tongs for even browning.
5. Gadget lovers might like stainless steel roller grates that sit on the barbeque grid and mimic the convenience-store contraptions that continuously rotate hot dogs for even browning without grill marks.
6. Hot dog or sausage basket accessories hold, and simultaneously flip, a package-full of franks, preventing them from falling through the grate.
7. Some believe that cooking a hot dog till it splits lets juices escape and dries it out. Others prefer those crispy edges that form. If you like an even crispier dog, cut slits about every inch down the length of the frank, approximately two-thirds of the way through the meat. This creates more surface area for crunchy texture to develop when grilling.
8. To make a “dog chasing its tail,” curl the cut frank into a round shape, securing with a toothpick before grilling. Serve it on a hamburger bun!
9. Bid adieu to traditional hot dog buns at your cookout by trying creative alternatives like croissants, flour tortillas, pretzel rolls, sandwich flats, pita pockets, romaine lettuce leaves or even a split baked potato. Try substituting knockwurst, bratwurst, kielbasa, chorizo, chicken sausage, Italian sausage or cheese-infused varieties in place of your usual hot dog.
10. Kids love roasting hot dogs over a fire pit. Spear the dogs crosswise on sticks long enough to keep hands safe from the heat. Continually rotate the sticks over the fire so hot dogs brown evenly.
9 Ways to Dress Up Your Dog
From a simple quiggle of mustard to a mélange of exotic embellishments, the hot dog can go from humble to haute depending on the occasion and your preference. Even with limited cabin provisions, it’s easy to combine creative toppings to jazz up a grilled frank without straying too far from its comfort-food roots. Here are a few ideas to try:
1. Modern Muffaletta
Copy New Orleans’ signature Italian sandwich with a slice of provolone cheese and a big spoonful of olive relish made from chopped green and black olives, roasted red peppers, giardiniera (a blend of pickled vegetables) mixed with garlic, lemon juice, and oregano.
2. Corn Dog
Cut a grilled hot dog in half crosswise, then lengthwise. Place pieces open-face on the halves of a split, toasted corn muffin, and top with salsa, shredded cheddar, jalapeno rings, sour cream and guacamole.
3. Tropical Dog
Chopped fresh mango, red onion, shredded coconut, cilantro and lime juice transport a hot dog or chicken sausage to the Caribbean.
4. Veggie Dog
Top a tofu dog with a salad of chopped raw cucumber, carrots, tomato, peppers, red onion and fresh herbs. Drizzle ranch dressing on top.
5. Reuben Dog
For a new spin on the classic hot-dog-and-sauerkraut combo, add shredded Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.
6. Jambalaya Dog
Top a hot dog or kielbasa link with spicy red beans and rice, and garnish with chopped bell peppers.
7. Hot Potato
For an inside-out stuffed potato, top a hot dog with mashed potatoes, shredded cheddar, sour cream and chopped chives.
8. Let's Do Brunch
Wind a strip of bacon around a hot dog and grill it. Cut it to fit on a toasted English muffin and top with a fried egg and a splash of hot sauce.