I Found an Absolute Way to Cook Hot Dogs

I Found an Absolute Way to Cook Hot Dogs

What’s the Best Way to Cook Hot Dogs?

Table of Contents

  1. What’s the Best Way to Cook Hot Dogs?
  2. A Few Notes on Methodology
  3. Microwave
  4. Boiled
  5. Baked
  6. Steamed
  7. Air Fryer
  8. Slow Cooker
  9. Broiled
  10. Grill
  11. Overall Key Takeaways

I have a secret to confess: For the majority of my life, I have despised hot dogs. I avoided them whenever possible, but that all changed about five years ago when I was food styling a video shoot all about hot dogs. I decided to give them another chance. I tasted them with an open mind, and realized I had been holding out for no good reason. They were really, really good — savory, meaty, juicy, and downright delicious.

Since then, I’ve eaten hot dogs on several different occasions and found them to range anywhere from “meh” to life-changing. Like so many foods, I know that the end results depend on how the hot dogs are cooked. Subpar techniques can leave them disappointingly tough and rubbery in spots, leathery and super salty, or squishy with a diluted flavor.

Unlike the previous hot dog showdown I worked on (which was focused on different ways to prep hot dogs before grilling), this time around I tested eight different cooking methods to find the most reliable path to delicious franks.

What’s the Best Way to Cook Hot Dogs?

Grilling very clearly declared itself as the winner; its texture and flavor were superior. No other method came close to producing results that were as delicious.

A Few Notes on Methodology

The hot dogs: I used all-beef hot dogs for my testing and chose Hebrew National brand. I tested half a pack (3 franks) for each test, with the exception of the slow cooker test, for which I used a whole pack.
The testing: I tested all of the hot dogs on one day, over a period of about two hours. (I set up the slow cooker test a few hours ahead.) As soon as one method was completed, I would taste the hot dogs fresh. With every method, I tasted bites from 2 different franks, and from both the end and the middle portion.
The ratings: I rated each method on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 reserved for absolute perfection. The main criteria for my ratings were flavor and texture, with a bit of consideration also going into the ease or difficulty of the method.

Overall Key Takeaways

The key to the success of the grilling method is two-zone heat — a cooler side to warm the hot dogs through gently, and a hot side to finish them off with a little sear and char. With a gas grill, it’s easy to create these zones, but you could also bank charcoal more densely on one side and have the coals more sparse on the other.

The flavor and texture payoffs make grilling absolutely worth the little bit of effort, but if you don’t have a grill, the broiler method works pretty well in a pinch. It just won’t give you that smoky char finish.


The Kitchn

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