How to Cook Hot Dogs – The Ultimate Guide

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You can cook hot dogs in so many different ways. What’s even better is you can prepare them with different toppings to your own tastes as well, from relish, to sauerkraut, to chili.

But the way they’re cooked can ultimately make or break your hot dog experience. No one likes a mushy, burnt, or chewy hot dog.

So, how do you cook hot dogs? You can cook hot dogs by using the grill, a frying pan, the oven, and even the microwave. You can even boil them. These methods are simple, but there are a few important things to note so that you don’t under or overcook your hot dogs.

In this guide, we will walk you through how to cook hot dogs in every single form. No matter which way you prefer them, we have a solution for you.

We will share detailed steps to take you through every part of the process to turn your hot dog into top dog!

The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Hot Dogs

If you are at all a fan of hot dogs, then you probably already know quite a bit about them. You know that you can make them in many different ways and use tons of different toppings.

Maybe you just like yours with a good shot of ketchup or maybe you prefer the works. 

Then, of course, there are options that add sauerkraut or you can ask for chili and cheese. The options are endless. We could spend a day covering the different types and styles of hot dogs alone, but that’s not why we’re here today. 

Hot dogs were created in Germany. Much like you might enjoy sausages or bratwursts that were traditionally German dishes as well. It’s the same type of concept.

The hot dogs that we experience and indulge in today are American cuisine. You’ll find them as street food and they’re popular at ball games and concession stands. 

We don’t need to get into the detailed history of hotdogs or what they’re made from. With most people, you either like a good hot dog or you don’t. If you’re here, we’re guessing you fall into that first category. 

Let’s get down to business, shall we? 

1. Cooking Hot Dogs in a Frying Pan

 Have you ever cooked your hot dogs on the stovetop? When a grill just isn’t available, this is the next best thing. You can brown them up just like you might on the grill!

Granted, they don’t taste exactly the same as the grill, but it’s a nice alternative. 

When you cook them this way, you will probably only cook a few at a time. You can try to cook a whole package at once, but it may be a challenge.

We recommend spacing each hot dog out an inch or so to give you plenty of space to work with. If you use a large skillet or frying pan, you can still fit quite a few in there. 

It doesn’t take long at all to cook them this way. It very well might be one of the quicker methods with the best results, as far as texture and flavor go.

Of course, we all have our own preferences when it comes to hot dogs, so we will let you be the judge of what is truly the best method in your home. 

Pan frying a hot dog crisps and browns the skin. Whether you use regular grocery hot dogs or like to spring for all-beef franks, this method works quite well.

It’s super simple and is a nice way to switch up the process from grilling your hot dogs. 

How to Cook Hot Dogs in a Pan

Cooking a hot dog in a pan is super quick. From beginning to end, you can probably finish the process in only about 5 minutes per hot dog, possibly less. The process is so easy, and you really can’t go wrong. 

You will need to stick close by the pan so you can monitor the cooking progress. Grab a good pair of tongs to work with as well so that you can turn the hot dogs in the process.

If you don’t have kitchen tongs, a fork or a small spatula could also do the trick. Here are your steps to cooking a hot dog in a frying pan. We have 2 different methods for you. 

Cooking hot dogs with water:

  1. Start by covering the surface of the pan with a layer of water. You just need to cover the surface. You can skip this step, but it really helps to prep the pan for the cooking process. 
  2. Turn your heat to medium-high and let the pan heat until the water starts to boil off in the pan. 
  3. Add the hot dogs gently so as not to splash the hot water up. Space the hot dogs apart and add only a few at a time. 
  4. Roll the hot dogs in the pan frequently to be sure the browning is even on all sides. 
  5. Cook in this manner until the hot dogs are fully browned and cooked. It will take several minutes. 

Cooking hot dogs dry:

  1. Start by making some small diagonal cuts on your hot dogs. Make the cuts on either side about an inch apart. The cuts should be shallow and not large. This is just a way for the internal air to release so that the hot dogs don’t puff up or split when you are cooking them. 
  2. Heat a skillet on a burner over medium heat. No water, oil, or butter is needed. Place hot dogs directly into the warm skillet. In this method, you can cook more at one time, just space them so they aren’t touching. 
  3. Turn the hot dogs using either forks or a tong regularly. This will allow them to brown and cook evenly on all sides. 
  4. Cook in this manner until the hot dogs are as browned as you like them. It typically takes about 5 minutes to get them thoroughly browned and cooked. 

As you can see, the processes for cooking on the stove are pretty easy and straightforward. We prefer the dry method on the stovetop just because you can cook more hot dogs at one time and it’s a simpler process overall. 

No matter the season, once your pan-fried hot dog is brown and crispy, you can slap it on a toasted bun and enjoy it like it’s straight off the grill!

2. Cooking Hot Dogs on the Grill

Cooking hot dogs on the grill is one of the most popular summertime cooking methods. It’s not hard to do and there is just something about that charred flavor that you can’t re-create in any other method of cooking. 

Grilling is one of the more unique methods of cooking. The only problem with grilling hot dogs is that it’s not always convenient.

Not everyone has a grill or knows how to handle a grill. At the same time, it’s hard to use a grill during certain weather or seasons as well. 

But, there is just something special about grilled hotdogs, and it’s a topic we have to cover! 

How to Cook Hot Dogs on the Grill

Cooking could easily vary depending on your grill and your grill settings. As we share specific instructions for grilling hotdogs, we will provide you with an estimated timeframe.

Just know that you may need to adjust slightly depending on your grill and your grilling practices. 

Every grill is different and the results can also be different depending on the type of grill that you are using. For example, does your grill operate on charcoal, pellets, propane, or natural gas? How much do the temperature settings vary?

You could also be using a ceramic egg-style grill, which could also affect the process slightly as well. Some of understanding the grilling process requires you to be familiar with your grill. 

Ultimately, we would say to plan on approximately 7-15 minutes for cooking time on the grill, depending on the size of the hot dog.

Here are the steps for cooking hot dogs on the grill:

  1. Turn on your grill to get it heated. We like to have one side cooler and one side hotter as far as temperature to really get the best grill-made hotdogs. If you use charcoal, you can do this by placing more coals on one side than the other. 
  2. Start by cooking the hot dogs on the cooler side of the grill. This gives them the chance to heat all the way through without burning too quickly. At this step, you are looking for the brownish-red color change that happens as they heat. 
  3. You probably just need to cook them about 1 minute on each side.
  4. Transfer the hot dogs to the hotter side of the grill. While they are cooking, turn or roll them regularly to get them evenly cooked. 
  5. Cook the hot dogs in this manner until they reach the desired doneness that you are looking for. We estimate 5-7 minutes for standard hot dogs, 7-10 minutes for jumbo hot dogs, and about 15 minutes for quarter-pound hot dogs. 

Grilling doesn’t take long at all, even with the largest hot dogs. You can skip the step for pre-cooking them if you feel as though that is too much effort. We have just found that to be the best method for cooking and flavor overall. 

If you want a pro-tip for getting those char marks that really stand out, here it is! Lay your hot dogs at an angle while cooking. This will give you the perfect, diagonal char that screams delicious grilled hot dogs! 

3. Cooking Hot Dogs in the Oven

Another really great way to cook your hot dogs is in the oven. Cooking them in the oven is simple. Using the oven may take a few more minutes overall for the cooking process, but you’re still looking at a quick-cooking solution. 

The oven is convenient when you’re cooking a large number of hot dogs at once. Maybe you’re planning a party or you have a house full of kiddos.

Whatever the situation, the oven is great for a hands-free method of cooking a large number of hot dogs in one go. 

You will want to be sure that you don’t use a flat pan because your hot dogs may produce some juice in the cooking process.

We recommend using any kind of baking pan or even a roasting pan, as long as it has some sort of lip for juice from the hot dogs. 

How to Cook Hot Dogs in the Oven

Cooking hot dogs in the oven could take a few minutes more than the grill, the microwave, or pan-frying, but it’s still not a terribly long process. With cooking them in the oven, you do not have to watch them constantly. 

The cooking time alone takes about 15 minutes. Remember that you will need to pre-heat your oven and prepare the hot dogs, so we recommend another 5-10 minutes for that process as well.

Preheating time could vary depending on your oven. 

Here are the steps for cooking hotdogs in the oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. 
  2. Line a pan with aluminum foil to make clean up simple. 
  3. Start by cutting some diagonal slits into your hot dogs. Cut them much the same way you would in the pan-frying method. Cut small, shallow slits in a diagonal pattern, about an inch apart over the hot dog. This helps prevent splitting and bulging. 
  4. Place the hot dogs in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. You should plan to turn the hot dogs halfway through the process. 
  5. Typically, you can tell the hot dogs are finished when they start browning and possibly even curling slightly. You will probably hear the sweet sizzling sound as well. 

This process is the best way to get a flavor most similar to the grill. It is also a really great way to cook hot dogs in bulk, but you don’t have to be cooking in bulk to enjoy this cooking method.

If you haven’t tried this one yet, go ahead and give it a whirl! 

4. Cooking Hot Dogs in the Microwave

The microwave is not one of our top recommendations for cooking hot dogs, but it is certainly an option. You just have to be careful in the microwave because you can easily overcook the hotdogs and end up with a mess. 

However, if you’re looking for something super quick and easy, this is the way to go! It takes hardly any time at all to cook hot dogs in the microwave. However, this method is not really cooking but more like reheating.

Despite our references to better options, we want you to know this is a viable option and it works really well when a quick fix is needed or you’re just heating a few hotdogs up. 

How to Cook Hot Dogs in the Microwave

When you cook a hot dog in the microwave, it takes hardly any time at all. You don’t have to prepare a pan or a grill and you don’t have to preheat anything either.

The cooking time in the microwave is going to take you so little time you won’t even be able to walk away. 

Most of the time, cooking a hot dog in the microwave takes less than a minute. If you have frozen hot dogs, it may take some additional time. 

Here are your steps for cooking hots dogs in the microwave:

  1. Wrap your hot dog(s) in a paper towel. You can then either place them in the microwave just like that or you can place them on a plate as well. It’s totally up to you. The paper towel is the trick here to retain the moisture and keep the hot dog nice and juicy. 
  2. Place the hot dog(s) in the microwave and start with 25 seconds. If it is not warm enough, you can microwave it for an additional 10-15 seconds until it reaches the heat you prefer. 

Here are some things to be aware of. For starters, there is no need to pierce your hot dog before microwaving. People tell you to do this so it doesn’t explode, but it really just lets the juices out. If you don’t overcook, it won’t explode. 

Finally, if you are cooking multiple hot dogs, you don’t have to wrap them in their own paper towels. You can lay them all on a plate, not touching, and cover them with a paper towel. 

5. Cooking Hot Dogs by Boiling

A tale as old as time is boiling hot dogs to cook them. Some people prefer them this way, while others feel as though it’s not a tasty option.

It’s true that you won’t get that nice flavor you get from browning your hot dogs with other cooking methods, but this is still a viable option. 

Boiling hots dogs is an option that works, but it’s not everyone’s favorite. However, it’s still an important process to know and understand. Boiling is pretty easy, but be mindful that it could take a bit longer.

There’s also a sweet spot for the timing to avoid hot dogs becoming rubbery or tough when boiled. 

How to Cook Hot Dogs by Boiling

You will only boil for about 5 minutes, but remember that it takes time to reach a boiling temperature.

Here are our recommended steps for boiling hot dogs:

  1. We recommend that you use a fork and just poke a few sporadic holes in each hotdog to prevent them from swelling and splitting during the cooking process. 
  2. Start by filling a pan or a pot with water. Be sure it is deep enough to submerge your hot dogs. The best way to do this is to place your hot dogs in the pan and then cover them with water. 
  3. Turn the burner heat to high under your pan and bring water to a boil. Once it reaches boiling, lower your heat to let the hots dogs simmer in the hot water. You just want a low boil at this point. 
  4. Lightly boil/simmer the hot dogs for 5 minutes. Watch the time carefully.
  5. Strain the hot dogs and serve them as desired. 

This process is another simple way to cook hot dogs. As long as you are careful not to overcook them, they should be flavorful and juicy. 

Related Questions 

We hope that you find this guide to cooking hot dogs to be a helpful resource with all of the relevant information you need to be successful. There are many ways to get the job done! 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional details that could be helpful for you. 

Are Hot Dogs Bad for You?

The answer here is, it depends. The type of hot dog you use makes a big difference.

They are not necessarily very high in calories, averaging 151 calories per hot dog, but most hot dogs do have a high level of preservatives and nitrates added to them. 

However, you can find lean beef hot dogs, and all-natural uncured hot dogs, which may be a healthier solution for you.

What Is a Chicago-Style Hot Dog?

A Chicago dog is typically served on a poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, chopped onions, sweet pickle relish, tomato, a pickle spear, and maybe some pickled pepper slices. This type of hot dog originated in Chicago, hence its name.

Up Next: Can You Refreeze Hot Dogs?

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