There are many ways to cook the best hot dog, each creating a distinctly different eating experience, whether the crunchy snap of a fire-charred dog or the mouthwatering bite of a tense, juicy, simmered frankfurter. Recipe methods are ordered here from quickest to longest cooking time, starting with the (dreaded) microwave, which can have you eating a piping-hot dog in a minute flat, all the way up to roasting. Avoid puncturing hot dogs before, during, or right after cooking, as doing so will cause the hot dog to lose a lot of its liquid.
Microwave equals hot dog killer? Have no fear. I’ve found the secret to cooking a decent hot dog in the microwave. Is it as good as grilling or cooking on a stovetop? Nope. Not even close. But it’s darn quick and, if done right, it can make a great dog in a pinch.
Open-flame cooking is technically similar to grilling (using very hot direct heat), but I’ve made it its own cooking method because it’s a lot more fun, perfect for campfires and cold evenings around a fire pit. It creates a charred, wonderfully crisp skin and a juicy, piping hot interior. Tongs are the best tool, but you can also use a skewer, though the pierced hot dog will leak fat, juices, and flavor while cooking. It is as simple as cooking a hot dog directly over or, if you’re a kid, inside a fire.
Grilling and broiling are intense dry-cooking methods that rely on direct heat. But that intensity doesn’t mean grilling is too much for an amazing hot dog—in fact, that’s what makes the grilled dog so good. Grilling over a flame is the only way to get a char, and both grilling and broiling will create crisp skin on dogs with natural casings. If you don’t have a grill, broiling is essentially the same process except that it uses top-down heat instead of bottom-up heat.
Simmering requires cooking hot dogs submerged in water. It’s a gentle cooking process, and, compared to boiling, has less risk of overcooking or splitting the dogs.
Roasting is a fairly easy and worry-free way to cook a bunch of hot dogs at once. There’s a lot more space on a baking sheet than there is in a skillet, after all.–Russell van Kraayenburg
LC Centerfold-Worthy Weenie Note
Swooning over the consummate hot diggity dog in that centerfold-worthy photo above? Yeah, so are we. So get thee a bun, nestle a frankfurter among its folds, and squeeze on a zigzag of yellow mustard (or whatever other condiments you crave).
And if what you reeeeeaaaaalllllly crave is the exact neon-red beef and pork hot dog photographed above, talk to your local butcher or peruse online purveyors to track down the hard-to-find snappy little beef and pork dogs with the natural casings and the red dye. They’re a Maine delicacy, according to the author, with a “signature snap.” For a truly authentic New England experience, get the New England-style rolls (also known as frankfurter rolls, lobster rolls, and top-loading rolls or buns) that are split on the top instead of on the side. And let us know how it goes.
The Best Hot Dog Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 5 M
- Servings vary
- 1 hot dog (or as many more as you need)
- 1 hot dog bun (or as many more as you need)
- Yellow mustard, to taste
- Other condiments, as desired (pickle relish, ketchup, sport peppers, sauerkraut, onions, cheese, and so forth)
- 1. Choose your cooking method from the recipe options below, plonk the hot dog in a bun, slather it with mustard and any other desired condiments, and then take a moment to behold this greatness before demolishing it.
Choose A Method
- Wrap the hot dog tightly in a dry paper towel, curling the ends under the dog so they don’t flip open.
- Place the wrapped hot dog on a plate and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds on 80 percent power or until heated through.
- Prepare a fire.
- Using long tongs, hold the hot dog a few inches above the tops of the flames. Slowly rotate the dog while cooking for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the skin is charred and crisp and the interior is cooked through.
Grill and Broil
- If using a grill, preheat the grill to its hottest setting for at least 30 minutes. [If using a charcoal grill, heat the charcoal for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the coals ash over. Just before grilling, lower the heat to medium (about 400°F/205°C). Once the coals ash over, spread them over the bottom of the grill.] If using a broiler, start with the next step.
- Place the hot dog on the grill rack and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until charred but not blackened. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring enough water to cover the dogs to a simmer.
- Place hot dogs in the simmering water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). [Or if you need to keep the dogs warm for a while, you can leave the hot dogs in the simmering water—or even warm water, so long as it’s above 160°F (71°C)—until you need them.]
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Place the hot dogs on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 10 to 20 minutes, or until hot dogs are heated through to 160°F (71°C).
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
The Best Hot Dog Recipe © 2014 Russell van Kraayenburg. Photo © 2014 Russell van Kraayenburg. All rights reserved.
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