Is there a better comfort food at a backyard barbecue or baseball game than a good old-fashioned hot dog? They’re an affordable crowd-pleaser that are more versatile than people give them credit for.
Whether you’re sticking to ketchup or are interested in experimenting with bacon, cream cheese, and more, we’ll tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about grilling hot dogs.
Hot dogs are considered a pretty easy food to grill. They’re perfect for those who just got their first grill or for parents who are teaching their kids to grill for the first time. Sure. You could open up the packaged hot dogs, throw them on a hot grill, and hope for the best. Or, you could follow a few simple tips to make sure you grill the best hot dogs in the neighborhood.
Step 1: Preheat your grill to a temperature between 375 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Go for a hotter grill if you like crispier skin on your dogs, and a lower temperature if you want a classic, supple frank.
Step 2: Vent your hot dogs in several places by puncturing them with a fork or knife. Otherwise, your hot dogs might burst on the grill.
Step 3: Place your hot dogs on the grill. We prefer setting our hot dogs at a 45-degree angle on the grates to get those beautiful, angled grill marks.
Step 4: Cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees (as measured by an internal thermometer probe) and then remove your hot dogs from the grill.
Step 5: Split the hot dog buns along their seams and brush with melted butter. Grill them until warm.
Step 6: Add your hot dogs to the buns, load up some toppings, and enjoy!
##Should You Prep Your Hot Dogs in Water?
We don’t recommend you completely boil your hot dogs before grilling them, but you can experiment with “bathing” your hot dogs before grilling. You bathe a hot dog by simmering for a few minutes in a flavorful liquid like an ale. It’s not necessary, but it could lead to more flavorful franks because the flavor from the hot dog bath will still be present in the cooked frank.
We recommend setting your Traeger to at least 375 degrees Fahrenheit to grill hot dogs, but you can grill hot dogs at any temperature up to 500 degrees. Our recommendations depend on the overall recipe, including how crispy you like your hot dog skin. A cooler grill temperature leads to less crispy skin because the hot dog will cook evenly throughout. A hotter grill will lead to crispier skin on your hot dog because the skin will cook more quickly than the inside.
You’ll know your hot dogs are done grilling when they start to expand and get grill marks. You want to remove them before they start sputtering and spitting out liquid. A sputtering hot dog is an indication that it’s finished cooking and may be a little overdone. When in doubt, check with an internal thermometer to see if they’ve reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yes, you should cut or poke hot dogs with a fork before grilling. That’s because hot dogs need to vent while they’re cooking. Otherwise, you could end up with burst hot dogs as the insides expand -- like a beer in the freezer. They’ll still taste great but won’t look quite as nice.
Depending on the heat of the grill, it takes between 5 and 7 minutes for a standard-sized hot dog to cook, 7 to 10 minutes for jumbo dogs, and 15 minutes for quarter-pound hot dogs and sausages. A hotter grill will cook hot dogs more quickly, and a cooler grill will take longer.
You can definitely cook hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill together. Be aware that they might not cook at the same speed. If you want both your hot dogs and your burgers to go on the grill together and be ready at the same time, make sure they are the same thickness.
There’s a lot of debate about the best hot dog to grill, so we say experiment with different brands until you find a favorite. If you’re looking for a place to start, GQ made a top 10 list of their favorite hot dogs to grill. The top contenders were Nathan’s Famous Beef Franks, Trader Joe’s All Natural Uncured All Beef Hot Dogs, and Hebrew National Beef Franks.
The most popular hot dog toppings in America are mustard, ketchup, onions, chili, and relish according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. When you look at America’s different regions, you’ll start to see that different areas have their own favorite toppings. The West likes jalapeños, Southerners enjoy coleslaw, and the Northeast loves sauerkraut.
While the little ones might prefer a simple hot dog with ketchup, we prefer to go all-out with our hot dogs. After all, hot dogs can pair well with everything from bacon to cream cheese. We highly recommend experimenting with hot dog flavor combinations, but here are a few recipes to get those creative juices flowing.
It doesn’t get much more classic than a Chicago-style hot dog. Feel free to sub the neon green relish with the easier to find sweet relish, and try pickled jalapeños if you can’t find sports peppers in stock. We up the ante by using footlong dogs instead of your standard-sized hot dogs.
Cook Time: 15 minutes
You know what a hot dog really needs? To be wrapped in bacon. This works equally well for beef and pork hot dogs. Add melted cheese and your favorite toppings for hot dog perfection.
Cook Time: 20 minutes
This isn’t your normal ball park hot dog. This Traeger ball park hot dogs recipe calls for foot longs (but you can substitute standard franks), wrapped in bacon, and topped with onion, pulled pork, cheese, and barbecue sauce.
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cream cheese might seem like a strange topping for a hot dog, but don’t knock the smoked Seattle dog ‘til you’ve tried it. It’s a favorite in the Pacific Northwest, but it’ll likely become a hit at any backyard barbecue.
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Our recipe for brisket hot dogs is the perfect way to use up leftover brisket when you don’t have enough for the whole family to share. After eating these hot dogs, you might even find yourself smoking a brisket just so you can load up on brisket hot dogs.
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Hold the ketchup and serve up these dogs Chicago-style. Foot-long hot dogs are grilled and topped with tomato wedges, onions, pickle relish, peppers, and mustard, all in a poppy seed bun.
These ain't your average dogs. Go bold and pile on the flavor by topping your hot dogs with tender brisket, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, and onions, then finish them off with our Sweet & Heat BBQ sauce.
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