Hot Dogs
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How To Keep Hot Dogs Warm

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If you’re grilling up a batch of hot dogs for a party or family gathering, keeping them warm can be a problem! When you’ve got to all the trouble of grilling these delicious sausages to perfection, the last thing you want is for them to dry out.

So, what is the best way to keep hot dogs warm? The trick to keeping grilled hot dogs warm is to prevent them from drying out, so use a tightly sealed container that locks in heat and moisture. They can be kept warm in a low oven or crockpot for up to an hour. For an outside party or picnic, heat packs and insulated containers can work well. 

Planning a big cookout with a large batch of hot dogs? Or maybe you want to pack up some freshly grilled hot dogs to take on a family picnic?

Keep reading to find out the best ways to keep hot dogs warm, including some top tips to suit all situations!

What Are Hot Dogs?

Hot dogs are sausage-shaped processed meat snacks, made from finely ground meat.

This is normally a combination of two or more different meats, such as beef, turkey, pork, or chicken. The meat blend is normally well-seasoned and can have a smoky or spicy tang.

While hot dogs have not always had the best of reputations, in recent years the market has seen a huge rise in artisan manufacturers of high-quality hot dogs.

The days of mushy, bland hot dogs are well behind us, and any grilling fanatic will be keen to tell you all about their favorite hot dog brand!

If you’ve gone to the trouble of getting the best quality hot dogs you can afford, the best way to cook them is on the grill.

This creates deliciously charred lines down the side of the sausage, adding a touch of sweet caramelization to the rich, meaty flavor.

Hot dog sausages are normally served in a bun, topped with fried onions and condiments such as mustard, ketchup, or relish.

How To Keep Grilled Hot Dogs Warm At Home

We all know that sometimes life gets out of control and things fall behind schedule.

If your party guests are running late, or you want to prepare some hot dogs in advance, here are some simple yet effective ways to keep your hot dogs warm for different amounts of time.

Keeping Hot Dogs Warm For Less Than One Hour

Sometimes people are only running a little behind, so you don’t need to stretch your warming time too long. These are the best ways to keep hot dogs warm for one hour or less.

In The Oven

While you are grilling your hot dogs, preheat the oven to 200°F — if your oven has a “warm” setting, use this instead. At this temperature, food will remain at the perfect temperature to eat.

To stop your grilled hot dogs from drying out in the oven, you need to make sure they are well covered.

Place them in a casserole dish with a snugly fitting lid — an extra layer of aluminum foil under the lid can be beneficial here. Alternatively, use a baking tray tightly covered in foil.

In The Crockpot

Keeping cooked food warm in a crockpot is one of the easiest methods to use! This is because most crockpots have a “keep warm” setting, so it does all the work for you.

Preheat the crockpot while you are grilling the hot dogs, then place them into the crockpot when they are cooked. It is a good idea to put a layer of food-safe aluminum foil over the hot dogs to prevent moisture from escaping.

The only thing to bear in mind with this method is the hot dogs may start to dry out over time, particularly if the lid is removed frequently. If this happens, you can add a tiny splash of hot water to perk them back up.

Keeping Hot Dogs Warm For Several Hours

While the above methods are great if you are serving your food within a short period of time, you might find that they start to dry out if left for longer. Luckily, we have some great ways to keep hot dogs warm for several hours.

Chafing Dishes

Chafing dishes are ideal for keeping grilled hot dogs warm, as they are designed for any food that would burn over direct heat. A chafing dish consists of a stainless steel pan that sits in a shallow bath of warm water, heated by a burner.

Grilled hot dog sausages can be nestled into one of the compartments of the chafing dish, with the lid fitted securely on top. This will keep your grilled sausages piping hot and ready to eat.

Electric Food Warmer

An electric food warmer is similar to a chafing dish, but they tend to be more expensive. They have adjustable heat settings to keep your food at the perfect temperature until your guests are ready to eat.

How To Keep Hot Dogs Warm At A Party

Serving a large amount of grilled hot dogs at a party can be tricky!

Food can cool down rapidly in the open air, whether you are eating inside or outside — this means you need to plan ahead to find the best way to keep your hot dogs sizzling and ready to serve.

While chafing dishes or electric food warmers are incredibly useful, we don’t all have access to such items. And if your party is outside, access to electrical sockets may be limited.

So, how can we keep grilled hot dogs warm at a party?

The aim is to seal the heat of your hot dogs into an insulated container, keeping them warm until your guests are ready to eat. Make sure they are sizzling hot first, and don’t uncover the food until the last possible minute.

Here are some great ways to keep grilled hot dogs warm at a party.

Heat Packs 

Heat packs can be heated in just a couple of minutes in the microwave and will stay warm for several hours if kept well insulated.

Place your heat packs underneath the container of cooked hot dogs, inside an insulated container. Place a thick kitchen cloth on top of the hot dogs to keep them as snug and warm as possible.

Candle Food Warmers

Candle food warmers are an efficient and decorative way to keep grilled hot dogs warm, and will work well for both indoor and outdoor parties.

Place the grilled hot dogs snugly in a heatproof dish, with a layer of aluminum foil on top. Put the lid snugly onto the dish to create a mini oven, perfect for keeping your sizzling sausages warm.

Cool Box

Cool boxes don’t just keep things cold – they can retain warmth too!

Put your grilled hot dogs into a lidded plastic tub inside the cool box, wrapped in a kitchen cloth. When your guests arrive, your hot dogs should be at the perfect temperature to serve straight away!

Insulated Lunch Bags

Those snazzy little lunch bags that are all the rage nowadays are also ideal for keeping food warm at a party! They will keep grilled hot dogs warm for a short period, and this can be extended with the use of a heat pack as well.

Casserole Dish

Thick-sided casserole dishes will retain heat for very long periods when thoroughly warmed through. If you have one, pop your casserole dish into a heat-resistant bag or wrap it in a kitchen cloth.

The nice thing about this method is that all you have to do is lift the lid off the casserole dish, and your grilled hot dogs are ready to serve!


Thermos flasks aren’t just for hot drinks and soups! They can also be used to keep food warm, and are the ideal solution for taking grilled hot dogs on a family picnic or long trail walk.

Wash the thermos flask, then fill it with boiling water while grilling your hot dogs. When the hot dogs are cooked, pour the water out and put the hot dogs inside. The heat and residual steam will keep your hot dogs at the perfect temperature.

Tightly close the lid and don’t open it until you are ready to eat the hot dogs. This method can be used to keep grilled hot dogs warm for around 2 hours.

How Long Can You Keep Grilled Hot Dogs Warm?

Grilled hot dogs that have been left out at 140°F or less for over 2 hours must be discarded, so the trick here is to keep as much heat in your food as possible.

At temperatures below 140°F, bacteria can start to multiply rapidly. This greatly increases the risk of a stomach upset or food poisoning — definitely not a gift your family will appreciate!

And if you’re in a warmer climate with temperatures of over 90°F, the likelihood of this happening increases.

Food safety authorities recommend that food should be kept at the following temperatures:

  • Chilled – 40°F or below.
  • Hot – 140°F or above.

So, anything between 40-140°F is the danger zone for bacterial contamination.

And if we’re keeping food warm, the danger is that you might drop under the crucial 140°F point! And this takes you into the high-risk temperature zone, where bacteria can multiply out of control in just one hour.

What does this mean in real life? When you cook hot dogs, they will start to cool as soon as they leave the grill. They must be consumed within one hour of this point unless you have a means of keeping them at the correct heat.

The only way to do this is to use a method that provides additional heat, such as a chafing dish or food warmer. Methods that lock in residual heat, like insulated food bags, only keep food safe to eat for around one hour.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for this article. I’m in charge of serving hotdogs for a high school play this weekend. We sold 1500 tickets so far for all 3 shows. I’m looking for some ideas on how to cook and keep these hotdogs warm. I don’t want to miss the play because my son has one of the lead role. I know that the intermission will be crazy busy. So the plan is to cook the hotdogs in a roller machine and leave them in a chafing sterno. Do I seal the lid? Can I leave the buns in the sterno too to keep them warm? Act 1 of the play is 90 minutes. Thank you for the reply….

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