The Biggest Screw-Ups People Make When Cooking Hot Dogs

No backyard barbecue is complete without hot dogs on the scene. There’s something distinctly satisfying about chomping into the perfect one. Turn up the heat on your hot dog game by avoiding these common mistakes. For starters, the best way to cook hot dogs is on the grill, not boiled in water. “I’ve been reusing the hotdog water so it gets more flavor. It’s only going to keep getting better. But you don’t want to neglect preparing your grill before tossing the hot dogs on top.

Make sure the grates are clean and free of gunk from previous grill sessions. If you’re worried about the fans sticking to the grates, spray them with a nonstick cooking spray, then preheat the grill for a few minutes before you start cooking. The heat level also matters when it comes to cooking hot dogs. While you shouldn’t shy away from high heat since you want to achieve that coveted char on the outside, you also don’t want to burn the tracks before the insides have cooked all the way through.

To avoid undercooking or overcooking your hot dogs, place them on the grill grate in indirect heat away from the flames. Doing so allows you to cook the hot dogs quickly and effectively without any chance of going too far. While hot dogs belong in the category of casual foods, that doesn’t mean you should opt for the cheapest options available. As a rule of thumb, the simpler the dish, the more the quality of the ingredients you choose matters.

From chicken and turkey to pork and beef, you’ll quickly discover that there are a wide array of hot dogs available to you at the supermarket. With all the choices out there, go with your taste preference. But don’t just pick the cheapest ones. The inexpensive varieties tend to come without casings and are made using a hodgepodge of meats, tons of sodium, and lots of preservatives. Some of them are barely worthy to even be called hot dogs. Not hot dog? Wait, what the f—? Moreover, higher-quality beef franks just taste better all around.

With more nuanced flavor and fewer shady additives to contend with, you can just sit back, fire up the grill, and enjoy the crisp snap of biting into a perfectly cooked hot dog. While some might argue that splitting a hot dog partway down the center or making small slashes on top keeps the casing from bursting and lets the frank cook all the way through, it’s usually an unnecessary step. Since most store-bought hot dogs are precooked anyway, they’re already cooked through. Splitting them open lets out all the juices that make the meat tender and moist.

If you’re working with encased hot dogs that have been precooked, skip the butterflying. However, if you’re using raw hot dogs you get at the butcher’s, you might find that splitting them open helps them cook more thoroughly. Hot dogs are small portions of meat, so they cook quicker than you think. Because they can burn or cook unevenly, it’s crucial that you pay attention to them during cooking. Using tongs or a spatula, be sure to move the hot dogs frequently, rolling them around continuously so every side gets touched by the heat source.


You also want to place them just right so you get those stunning grill marks. Arrange your hot dogs perpendicular to the grill grates, spacing them apart. By doing so, you should be guaranteed grill mark victory with all the franks. The hot dogs are as important as the buns that hold them. Hot dogs are a classic food, so don’t treat them like any other meat and bread combo. It’s not a hoagie, so you don’t want a bun that’s overly firm.

For the ideal hot dog presentation, choose buns that are similar in texture to the most exquisite burger buns. These should be soft, squishy, and just the right length for the hot dogs you’ve chosen to pair them with. “It’s not good for my buns, unless you like em soggy.” You’ve come too far to not toast the buns for your perfectly cooked hot dogs. To toast your bun, simply brush both cut sides with a small amount of butter and plop them on the grill or the pan for a few minutes. By taking the extra time to do so, you get to enjoy all the layers of textures that can be tasted in a truly satisfying hot dog.

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