Hot dogs are as American—as well, hot dogs. Americans are very patriotic about their dogs and this weekend marks the unofficial “official” hot dog holiday as Americans celebrate Fourth of July.
And, as popular as “dirty water dogs” are at baseball stadiums, nearly 57% of Americans prefer a grilled hot dog according to a survey conducted for RTA Outdoor Living. This statistic doesn’t come as a surprise to me or anyone else who loves a grilled dog. More surprising is that 12.6% preferred their hot dog cooked in a microwave.
Regardless of how you heat up the fully-cooked wiener, the real controversy is on how you top your hot dog. Like the kid in the photo above, I love ketchup on my hot dog. It is actually the only thing that I put ketchup on, and a charred hot dog and ketchup is a perfect match for me. But if you live in New York and like ketchup on your hot dog—after the age of 18—you better stand strong as it is serious mustard country and ketchup is not accepted easily. I have been “hot-dog-splained” more times than I can count for putting ketchup on my dog. To learn about other popular and staunch hot dog traditions, check out the examples below.
New York Street Cart Dog: The street-cart style hot dog is the venerable Hebrew National all-beef Kosher frank, boiled and served in a soft hot dog bun with (Sabrett’s) onion sauce and deli mustard—or sauerkraut.
Coney Island Dogs: All-meat chili (no beans) topped hot dog with yellow mustard and diced yellow onion on a plain hot dog bun.
Dodger Dog: From Los Angeles comes the steamed dog and foot-long bun with yellow mustard and relish.
Fenway Frank: Boiled and grilled, the Fenway (Boston) dog is served on a potato roll or lobster roll style bun and covered with mustard and relish.
Cincinnati Chili Cheese Dog: Cincinnati’s Chili Cheese Dog is topped with their renowned chili—spiced with chili powder, paprika, nutmeg, chocolate, and cinnamon. The dog is served with the Cincinnati chili, mild cheddar cheese, diced onions, and Ohio’s own Bertman Ball Park mustard.
Chicago Red Hot: Grilled and served on a poppy seed roll, “dragged through the garden,” as they say in the Windy City, with a dash of celery salt. yellow mustard, bright (neon) green sweet-pickle relish, chopped onion, fresh tomatoes, pickle spear, sport peppers.
Texas Corn Dog: Invented for the Texas State Fair in 1942, the Corn Dog is now a popular favorite—particularly in the South. The frank is skewered on a thick stick, dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep-fried until crisp. Serve plain on the stick or with yellow mustard.
Carolina Dog: Steamed frank, slipped into a soft, steamed bun and topped with Carolina vinegar-dressed slaw. The slaw is the same slaw that tops pulled pork sandwiches.
French Dog: Grated and melted gruyere cheese and dijon mustard top a long grilled dog in a baguette—or French bread.
Who needs instructions for grilling hot dogs? Well, if you are like most Americans, you do. I know people who buy twice what they need because they burn their grilled wieners so badly, that they have to start over.
The key to making perfectly seared hot dogs that are perfectly browned on the outside and warmed throughout is controlling the heat. The best hot dogs are cooked on a much lower heat than you would think. Keeping the heat consistent and pricking the frank with a toothpick will prevent the skin from splitting as they cook.
How to Grill a Perfect Dog
Follow these directions for a perfectly grilled hot dog—how you top it is up to you!
Makes 4 dogs
Grilling Method: Direct/Medium-Low Heat
4 fully-cooked hot dogs
4 hot dog buns or rolls
Favorite Condiments see list below
Preheat the grill to high. When the temperature reaches 550ºF, reduce the heat to about 350ºF.
Place the hot dogs directly on clean cooking grates over direct medium low heat and grill, turning occasionally for 5-7 minutes or until browned, plump and warmed through.
Remove from grill, let sit about 2-3 minutes, serve on a bun with favorite condiments.
Putting on the [Hot] Dog Bar:
Top your grilled dog with any of the regional styles above or anything you can imagine to create a new favorite. Below are a few wild card ideas:
- sliced cucumbers
- crispy onions (French’s or Durkee)
- crushed potato chips
- potato sticks
- French fries
- corn relish
- olive salad or Giardiniera
- sour pickles
- pickled peppers
- sport peppers
- pickled onions
- sliced raw onion
- bread and butter pickles
- pickled ginger
- barbecue sauce
- remoulade sauce
- yellow mustard
- Honeycut mustard
- honey mustard
- “Fancy Sauce”
- pulled-pork barbecue
- American cheese
- cheddar cheese
- port wine cheese