Cooking the perfect hot dog: The best ways

There is no best way to cook hot dogs, it really depends on how you like them.

However, there are ways that most people like, such as steaming or grilling. Both of which are commonly used with hot dog vendors.

In this guide you will learn all the different ways to cook hot dogs, what flavours come with each method, and tips and trick to enhance the hot dogs flavour

How Do You Cook Hotdogs?

There are many ways to cook hot dogs, and it all depends on hows you like them. Personally for me, I love my recipe for hot dog boiled, they come out of the pan with a soft texture that melts in your mouth. Perfect with a bit of ketchup!

However, you can also frymicrowavesteam, and grill them.

So why does everyone cook the hot dog differently? Well it does come down to preference, the hot dogs get a different flavor when cooked with each method and some people just prefer the flavour of their cooking method.

Some sacrifice flavour for convenience, for example, cooking hot dogs in the microwave is probably the fastest way to cook a hot dog, but I personally think it has the worst flavour and texture. Then again, you might prefer that!

Best Method To Cook Hot Dogs

My personal preference is grilling.

I honestly think grilling is the best way to cook the perfect hot dog, however some will not agree.

When grilling hot dogs, if you cut them just right, you can caramelise most of the fat, leaving an absolutely beautiful flavour.

However, steaming is also a popular method that produces a great flavour, just not as complex as grilling.

The Different Cooking Techniques

There are many ways to cook hot dogs, all of which have their own benefits in relation to flavour, texture and convenience. Below I have covered all the different cooking methods and what you can expect from each one.

Steaming Hot Dogs

Steamed hot dog is one of the best ways to cook a hot dog, the result is a very simple clean flavour and are preferred amongst many, however people often use the wrong term and class boiling as steaming hot dogs.

A steamed hot dog is cooked with steam only and it takes 2 minutes to cook.

To steam a hot dog the right way, you need a steaming basket, however I do have an alternative method with a skillet below.

Steaming With A Steam Basket

  1. Start by filling the pot with water and putting on a medium high heat
  2. Once boiling, place your hotdogs in the steam basket above the water and cover with a lid.
  3. Wait 2 minutes and check the hot dog is steaming hot inside
  4. Place on a bun and enjoy!

Steaming With A Skillet

  1. To steam with a skillet, get the skillet hot by placing it on medium high heat
  2. Once hot, place the hot dogs in the skillet and add around 1cm of water so it barely covers the hot dog.
  3. Cover with a lid and wait 2 minutes
  4. Serve hot dogs in a bun

Boiling Hot Dogs

Boiled hot dogs are like steamed hot dogs, they have a simple and clean flavour, the only difference is boiled hot dogs are juicier.

Many people dislike boiling hot dogs, and some even compare it to boiling ribs. However, I love boiled hotdogs, I love the juiciness and the simplicity of the flavour. I like this recipe for a hot dog.

How long does it take to cook a hot dog in boiling water? Roughly 5 minutes, that includes the time it takes for the juices to boil and simmer.

To boil hot dogs, all you will need is a pan and a hob.

  1. Open the can of hot dogs, and add the hot dogs into a pan including the juice in the can.
  2. Put the Hob on medium high heat and cook a hot dog until boiling.
  3. Once boiling, let them simmer for two minutes
  4. To check if done, use a force to pierce the hot dog, if the fork slides through like a hot knife in butter, then your hot dogs are ready to serve.
  5. Serve the perfect hot dog with a bun and condiments of your choosing for a great flavor.

Microwaving Hot Dogs

Hotdogs in a microwave is my least favourite method of cooking a hot dog. In my opinion the hot dog is somewhat leathery and less flavourful. However it does depend on the microwave, I recently did the west bend microwave review and this is what I use to cook my hotdogs when I microwave them, it actually does them justice in comparison to some microwaves.

Microwaves can be an extremely convenient cooking method, especially for those who don’t have any cooking equipment yet or just don’t like doing the washing up. That being said, some people do like the flavor and texture for this method, it’s just personal preference.

  1. Place your hotdog in a bowl of water and cover the top of the bowl with a plate, this ensures your hotdog cooks properly.
  2. Now place the covered hotdog in the microwave and set it to 3 minutes 30 seconds cooking time if you have 750W microwave. If your microwave is more powerful then you will need to adjust the cooking times.
  3. Serve in a bun with ketchup.

Grilling Hot Dogs

Hot dogs cooked on a grill are definitely the most flavourful and are voted as the best way to cook hot dogs. No wonder though considering the fat caramelises so nicely on a grill.

Did you know that Americans consume around 20 billion hotdogs per year? And they are used in around 95% of american households? Yes, it’s not just you who loves delicious hotdogs!

So first, before you grill your hot dogs, you need to prepare them to bring out more flavour. You do not have to do both of these methods, but I recommend always doing the cutting method.

Cutting The Hotdogs

To bring out more flavour, you need to cut the hotdogs, you can do this in any shape you like, but most people either cut if with spirals or crosses. For the purpose of this guide, I will be using the spiral method as it is my preferred.

  1. Start at the top of the hotdog, and slices diagonally keeping the slices around an inch apart.
  2. Flip the hot dog over, and repeat the diaganol slices again.

The reason you need to cut them, is to expose the fat on the inside of the hotdog to the flames, which allows the fat to caramelize without burning the hotdog. This brings out a more complex flavour.

Marinating The Hotdogs

Marinating the hotdog is a lovely trick that I use, it involves smoke water and brings out a delicious smokey flavour in the hotdogs. You can also use spicy ingredients if you love yours spicy like me.

  1. Fill a pan with around 3 cups of water
  2. Add a table spoon of liquid smoke
  3. heat the water (not boil) and let it sit to soak up the juices
  4. Take the hotdogs out and prepare your grill.

Grilling The Hotdogs

Grilling the hotdogs is the difficult part to get right. With practice you will get better over time.

First of all, ask yourself, do you like them charred or not? Because if not, you will need to roll them much more often to distribute the heat evenly.

  1. Place the hotdogs on the preheated grill, preferably close to each over for even heat distribution.
  2. If you would like them charred, cook until you start to see charring on the side touching the grill, then turn it over onto the opposite side. If you prefer it without being charred, then keep rolling constantly.
  3. Once both sides are charred, they are ready to serve. If you like them not charred, wait until they become puffy, that’s the sign that they are done.
  4. Serve on a bun with condiments

Baking Hot Dogs

Baking hotdogs is a very unusual method, certainly one I have not come across many times. However it is very easy to do and requires minimal effort.

Baked hotdogs have a tasty roasted flavour when done correctly, it’s important not to cut the hotdogs using this method as that will release the juices in the hotdogs leaving them dry and tasteless.

  1. Cover your sheet pan with foil
  2. Spray with non stick spray
  3. Place in the oven on the top shelf at 400 degrees

Toaster Oven Hot Dogs

Cooking a hotdog in the toaster oven is essentially the same as baking it from a taste perspective.

The only difference is when using a toaster oven, you will get some nice grill marks to make the hotdog look even better

  1. Place the hotdog on the grill in the toaster oven
  2. Set the toaster oven to 450 degrees
  3. Cook for 10 minutes
  4. Serve with a bun and condiments

Crockpot Hot Dogs

Cooking hot dogs in a crockpot is one of the best ways to cook hot dogs if you are looking to cook bulk amounts. Crockpots can handle between 40-60 hotdogs per cook depending on how big the crockpot is. This is very useful for events such as birthday parties.

  1. Fill the crockpot up with the amount of hotdogs you would like, place them upright for best results.
  2. Set the crockpot to high for 2 hours, or for low setting cook for 4 hours.
  3. Once cooked, remove the hotdogs and serve on a bun

Hot Dogs – FAQ

Can You Cook Hot Dogs In A Frying Pan?

The quick answer is yes, you can cook a hot dog in a frying pan. Hotdogs have a beautiful flavour in a frying pan and is an unorthodox way of cooking them, but the people who cook them this way love them.

  1. Set the heat to medium on your hob and place a portion of butter in your frying pan.
  2. Once the butter starts bubbling, place the hot dogs in the frying pan.
  3. Keep turning every 30 seconds until you get a nice brown colour on both all sides.
  4. Remove the hot dogs from the pan onto a plate
  5. Use the remaining fat to toast the sides of the buns
  6. Serve with a bun

Is It Better To Boil Or Fry Hot Dogs?

Personally I like boiled hotdogs, but fried recipe hot dog is so much tastier.

With fried hot dog, you can caramelize the inside fat, leaving a delicious flavour. The only downside to choosing the frying option would be convenience, you need to cut the hotdog, heat the pan monitor the hot dog at all times to avoid them burning.

Boiled hot dog will be juicer, however they will come with a much simpler flavor.

Boiled hotdogs are extremely convenient for a lot of people as you stick them in a pan, leave to boil and then simmer. Simple, easy and quick. if I cook boiled hotdogs I make sure I have ketchup and mustard to add to it.

How Long Can Hot Dogs Be Unrefrigerated

So, you left hotdogs unrefrigerated for a while and now you want to know if you can eat them or include them in your hot dogs recipe.

Luckily for you, they might still be good.

Hotdogs can be left out of the refrigerator for 2 hours before they need throwing away, that being said, if the temperature in the room goes above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then they will only last 1 hour.

If you are unsure, just throw them away as hotdogs can harbour nasty bacteria which will cause you big problems.

How To Tell If Hot Dogs Are Bad

As said above, hotdogs are one of those food that if they go bad, you do not want to risk it.

So how do you know if hotdogs have gone bad? Well they will look dull, have a nasty sour odour, and the flesh will turn slimy. Depending on how bad they are, their colour will start to turn from a red colour to a gray or brown color.

If you do notice any of these signs, don’t risk it, throw it away. It’s not worth the consequences of eating a bad hotdog.

How Long Are Hot Dogs Good After Opening Package

Hotdogs can last around 1 week after opening them, providing you refrigerate them.

Make no mistake, if they have been in the refrigerator for longer than a week, throw them away.

Anything that has a short expiration date in the refrigerator once opened, I normally track these items so I know exactly what day they need throwing away. And if I forget? In the bin it goes.

Can You Over Boil Hot Dogs?

You can overboil hotdogs, however this will not be harmful to you.

Overboiling hotdogs turns them soft and squigy, and overboiling for too long will cause them to breakup in the water.

A good trick is to prick them with a fork while boiling, and if the fork slides through like a hot knife in butter, then they are probably done. Always check the middle though once cooked!

What Is The Best Hot Dogs To Buy?

If you have ever been to new york, then you probably know which hotdog i’m about to talk about.

Yes it’s Sabrett.

Sabrett hotdogs are the best hotdogs to buy, both flavour wise and consistency wise. They deliver a tasty punch and have been voted as the best hotdogs many of times.

Sabrett have been making hotdogs for over 100 years, and they have truly mastered the art in hotdog making, they are renouned for their famous snap when chewing the hotdog.

Just a warning though, these hotdogs are longer than normal so be sure not to bite off more than you can chew!

How Do You Make Hot Dogs Taste Better?

Everyone wants to make hotdogs taste better, they are delicious as it is! So how do you make hotdogs taste better?

First of all, it depends on your cooking method.

If you are cooking hotdogs with a method that involves intense heat, such as frying or grilling, you need to make sure you cut the hotdogs prior to cooking.

This allows the fat inside the hotdog to caramelize leaving a beautifully tasting hotdog. Then add some condiments to increase the flavour!

If you are using a method such as microwaving or boiling, then you will need to use condiments to enhance the flavour. I personally love the classic ketchup and mustard, it just tastes so great!

You can also marinate the hotdogs in some water by adding spices to it and letting them soak, this method is a bit experimental as it depends what flavours you like. Feel free to experiment though.

How Do Hot Dog Vendors Cook Their Hot Dogs?

The truth? Hot dog vendors all cook their hot dogs differently. This is why I said there is not one best way to cook hot dogs.

The normal cooking method used is boiling or steaming their hotdogs. I think steaming the hotdogs works better.

So why do the hotdogs always taste differently than at home?

Hotdog vendors all use different ingredients and techniques.

I’ve come across hotdog vendors using butter to give it a better flavour, while some add garlic to their cooking method.

That being said, the brand of hotdogs is the main factor. Hotdog vendors all use famous brands, the most common one being sabrett hotdogs.

Conclusion? If you want to make a hotdog like a hotdog vendor, then try boiling some sabrett hotdogs, sauteing your onions, and adding a little bit of garlic, and remember, always steam the bun!


Hot dogs can be cooked multiple ways, and it all depends on which flavour you like, how convenient you need the method to be, and how many hot dogs you plan on cooking.

Grilling in my opinion is the best way to cook hot dogs, however steaming and frying are also up there on my rankings.

Never the less, it’s all about experimenting, try different cooking methods and do a taste test to see which method you like the most.

That’s what cooking is all about, finding the flavours you truly love.

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