If you’ve opened a tin of hot dogs and have some leftovers, a quick and easy storage solution is to pop them in the freezer.
However, if you want a snack in a hurry it can be a nuisance waiting for them to defrost. If you’ve got the grill all fired up and ready to go, it can be tempting to pop the frozen hot dog sausages straight onto it!
But is it OK to grill frozen hot dogs? Theoretically, it is possible to put frozen hot dogs on the grill, as long as they have been cooked before freezing. However, it would take so long to heat them through that they would end up overcooked on the outside. Hot dogs which were raw when frozen must always be defrosted before grilling.
Grilling your cooked hot dogs from frozen is not the best option for reheating them, but it can be done if no other options are available.
It can be just as quick to thaw your frozen hot dogs before cooking, so this is normally the best method for dealing with frozen hot dogs.
What Are Hot Dogs?
Hopefully, by now we all realize that hot dog sausages are not made from our canine friends!
Hot dogs are processed meat snacks, shaped like a sausage. They are made from very finely ground meat, normally a combination of two or more different meats.
This can include beef, pork, turkey, or chicken (but definitely not dog!). The meat is normally well-seasoned and may have a spicy or smokey flavor.
Hot dogs have not always had the best of reputations, with rumors about them being made from poor quality meat and other nasty ingredients.
However, in recent years the hot dog market has exploded with high-quality hot dogs from artisan manufacturers, so you can enjoy these tasty snacks guilt-free!
You might be a bit confused with the terminology around hot dog sausages, and there are other very similar products available which are known as frankfurters and wieners.
Hot dog sausages are normally served in a bun, with the two items together referred to as a hot dog.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at grilling hot dog sausages from frozen. While it might be possible with some imaginative thinking to grill a hot dog sausage in a bun, that is a topic for another time!
Can Hot Dogs Be Frozen?
Yes, hot dogs can be frozen – in fact, you can even buy them frozen! If you are buying frozen hot dogs, the packaging will tell you how long they can be frozen.
Just pop them straight into the freezer in the packaging from the store, making sure they don’t defrost first.
If you’ve got leftover hot dogs from dinner or a barbeque, they can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. After this, they will start to deteriorate in quality and are more likely to get freezer burn.
Hot dogs must be protected from air and moisture in the freezer, so store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
Now, we need to make an important point – the vast majority of hot dogs are sold as pre-cooked, so when preparing them for eating you are basically reheating them.
But you will occasionally come across raw hot dogs, particularly from artisan butchers, so these must be cooked thoroughly before eating.
If you are freezing hot dogs it is a very good idea to label them as raw or cooked, so you know how to thaw and prepare them for eating safely.
Can You Grill Frozen Hot Dogs?
So, you’ve fired up the grill and realized that the hot dogs are still in the freezer – disaster! Or maybe your guests were hungrier than expected, and you’ve run out of food. Is it OK to pop your frozen hot dogs straight onto the grill?
This is a bit of a controversial subject, and there is no right answer to this! Theoretically, if your hot dogs are already cooked, you could put them onto the grill whilst they are still frozen.
All you need to do is make sure they are reheated right through – how difficult can it be?
However, there is one problem with this – by the time your hot dogs are warmed through to the middle, they will very likely be overcooked and burnt on the outside!
If you shorten the cooking time to prevent them from burning, you could end up serving hot dogs which are still frozen in the middle.
And if your frozen hot dogs are raw, they must be thawed thoroughly before being placed on the grill. Grilling frozen raw meat can easily result in food that is undercooked, and can cause food poisoning.
Another factor to consider is that it is very quick and easy to thaw hot dogs, so there is no real need to attempt to cook them from frozen.
For the time it takes to defrost them you will then save time cooking them on the grill, so we’d suggest you thaw your hot dogs before putting them on the grill.
How Do You Thaw Hot Dogs?
Frozen hot dogs are very quick and easy to thaw, with some methods taking just a matter of minutes. This means you can have hot dogs which are ready to go on the grill in no time at all, with very little fuss!
Here are the best ways to thaw frozen hot dogs which are precooked:
Transfer the hot dogs to a microwave-safe dish and cover them with a paper towel. Select the lowest setting on the microwave – this will be the defrost setting if you have one.
Microwave the frozen hot dogs for 30 seconds at a time, until defrosted. They should be placed on the grill as soon as they are thawed, as they will likely have started to warm up in the microwave.
This is a really simple method! If your frozen hot dogs are in an airtight bag, such as a Ziploc freezer bag, they can be defrosted using this method. Place the bag in a bowl and cover with cool water.
They will take about 60 minutes to fully defrost, and should be cooked as soon as they have thawed out.
If you are not in a hurry, take the hot dogs from the freezer and place them on a dish at the bottom of the refrigerator. They will take about 24 hours to defrost fully, so this is not ideal if you are in a rush!
If your hot dogs were raw when frozen, you can defrost them in the microwave but you must cook them straight away. The safest way to defrost raw frozen hot dogs is to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator.
Now that we’ve gone over whether or not you can grill frozen hot dogs, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
Can you eat hot dogs cold?
Although many hot dogs are precooked at the time of purchase, most food safety advisors suggest that it is not safe to eat them cold.
This is because they may contain harmful bacteria which is destroyed when the hot dogs are reheated.
If you are 100% confident that your cooked hot dogs have been adequately chilled since they were purchased, you may be OK to eat them cold.
However, we would suggest that any vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women always reheat their hot dogs first.
You may occasionally find hot dogs that are not cooked at the time of purchase, and these should never be eaten cold. Always cook raw hot dogs thoroughly before consumption.
What is the best way to cook hot dogs?
Whilst we can quickly heat hot dogs in the microwave for a tasty snack, this really doesn’t do these juicy little sausages justice! Hot dogs deserve to be turned into a meal fit for the finest American diner, so don’t skimp on the trimmings and sides.
Here is our favorite way to cook and serve hot dogs:
- Pick the perfect hot dog! Look for hot dogs made by artisan butchers, preferably with organic ingredients and free from artificial flavorings and preservatives.
- Select your cooking method. If you want crispy skin without charring, steam then in a covered pan with a small amount of water. For charred skin, use the grill or gently roast in the oven.
- Choose your bun – most hot dog connoisseurs prefer a long thin white bun, which is light, soft, and chewy.
- Add your toppings of choice. You might want to stick with the traditional ketchup and mustard (and there is nothing wrong with that!), or you could experiment a bit. Try adding in a bit of chili for an extra kick, or coleslaw for a bit of juicy crunchiness. But whatever you do, don’t forget the sauteed onions!
- Pick your sides. Whilst a hot dog sausage in a bun is a meal in itself, there is no reason why you can’t add some tasty sides. A pile of French fries, juicy corn on the cob, or a classic potato salad can all turn your hot dog snack into a complete family dinner.