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How to Cook the Perfect Hot Dog

A perfect hot dog in a white bun, topped with a squiggle of mustard.
The best hot dog means knowing the perfect way to cook a hot dog, whether you roast, grill, simmer, microwave, or turn it over an open campfire. Here's everything you need to know.
Russell van Kraayenburg

Prep 2 mins
Cook 3 mins
Total 5 mins
Entrees
American
1 hot diggity dog
229 kcal

Ingredients 

  • 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)

Directions 

  • 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.

Notes

CHOOSE A METHOD

Microwave:

Is it as good as grilling or cooking on a stovetop? Not even close. But it’s darn quick and, if done right, it can make a decent, if not great, dog in a pinch.
First, wrap the hot dog tightly in a dry paper towel, tucking the ends under the dog so they don’t flip open.
Place the wrapped hot dog on a plate and microwave on 80 percent power for 30 to 45 seconds or until heated through.

Open Flame

Technically similar to grilling but a lot more fun. Perfect for campfires and cold evenings around a fire pit or fireplace. It creates a charred, wonderfully crisp skin and a juicy, piping hot interior.
First, prepare a fire.
Grab long-handled tongs, which are ideal, or a long-handled skewer made for roasting dogs and marshmallows. Hold the hot dog a few inches above the tops of the flames. Slowly rotate the dog while cooking until the skin is charred and crisp and the interior is cooked through 2 to 5 minutes.

Grill and Broil

Direct dry heat will magnificently crisp the skin on dogs made with natural casings. If you don’t have a grill, no worries. Broiling is essentially the same process except that it uses top-down heat instead of bottom-up heat.
If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to its hottest setting for at least 30 minutes. Just before tossing on the dogs, lower the heat to medium (about 400°F/205°C). Grill the dog for 3 to 4 minutes, until charred but not blackened. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
If using a charcoal grill, heat the charcoal for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the coals ash over. Spread the coals over the bottom of the grill. Grill the dog for 3 to 4 minutes, until charred but not blackened. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
If using a broiler, place the dogs on a broiler rack and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until charred but not blackened. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Simmer

Compared to boiling, simmering incurs less risk of overcooking or splitting the dogs.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring enough water to cover the dogs to a simmer.
Place hot dogs in the water and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). If you need to keep the dogs warm, you can turn the heat off and leave the hot dogs in the warm water—so long as it’s above 160°F (71°C)—for a short while.