What Are Uncured Hot Dogs?

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Uncured hot dogs have become the best choice for many health-conscious foodies, with many opting for this variety solely because of its use of natural preservatives. 

Both types of hot dogs are largely similar but may vary in their preparation technique, color, flavor, and texture which may understandably cause a lot of confusion, especially for people who don’t know the difference between the two. 

What are uncured hot dogs? Uncured hot dogs are made using natural preservatives and ingredients that are free of synthetic or potentially harmful chemicals like nitrates and nitrites. These hot dogs may have a shorter shelf-life but are generally considered to be better than cured hot dogs. 

Read below to learn more about uncured hot dogs, how they taste, how they differ, the best ways to cook them, and more! 

Uncured Vs. Cured Meat

When we talk about uncured hot dogs, we are essentially discussing the debate of choosing between uncured and cured meat. 

With cured meat getting a bad rap because of its use of chemical preservatives, many people try to avoid processed foods, and it seems that the public is swaying more towards uncured varieties.

Why are cured meats harmful to begin with?

Humans have been curing meat ever since we made sense of hunting for food and combining ingredients to extend the shelf-life of rations

In fact, chemical preservation was once the only way to cure meat since the concept of refrigeration did not exist.

Curing meat was considered to be a very important and basic human need back in the day and many people knew how to extend the shelf-life of food, especially meat. 

Once we got a better understanding of chemistry, we discovered that meat can be preserved better when it is mixed with nitrate and nitrites.

These chemicals are present in many processed foods and they occur naturally in certain vegetables too! 

What makes these chemicals a great fit is that they not only stop the growth of harmful bacteria but are also able to preserve the color and aroma of meat as well.

Preservatives have played an extremely important role in our food industry and have single-handedly changed the way we produce and consume meat whether it is prepackaged hamburgers, pizzas, or hot dogs. 

However, increasing demand and the ever-increasing sales figures of processed meat caused many health agencies to look into the long-term effects of these chemicals on human health. 

Many studies have linked the use and consumption of preservatives in food to numerous diseases. Some are common digestive diseases while others are serious ailments. 

This health scare has effectively divided people on which type of meat to use, which brings us back again to uncured and cured hot dogs. 

Differences Between Cured And Uncured Hot Dogs

So, with people looking for preservative-free alternatives, how are uncured hot dogs preserved? 

It turns out that there are many ways you can extend the shelf-life of meat. For example, food scientists discovered a method of obtaining naturally-occurring nitrites from celery powder or juice. 

This is why you may commonly find labeling that says “product does not contain nitrates or nitrites except those that are naturally in celery powder or juice”.

This means that uncured meat doesn’t contain a long list of preservatives and harmful chemicals. Instead, it has naturally sourced ingredients and chemicals that extend the shelf-life of the hot dogs

Another technique to discourage bacterial growth and add flavor to meat is to increase the sodium content of the food. 

But how do these different techniques affect the hot dogs? How do they taste and look? 

Here’s a quick comparison between the two!

Cured Hot Dog Characteristics


Cured meat has both a strong aroma and flavor. The preservatives used to cure the meat before it is processed and cooked helps “seal in” the flavor.

Traditionally cured meat has lots of favorable and familiar flavors and is generally the most common type of processed meat that you can find in the market. 


Cured meat has a distinct visual characteristic. For example, meat that hasn’t been cured or treated at all tends to lose its color over time. It can go from bright pink to dark gray in no time due to oxidative stress.

However, with preservatives, cured meat can maintain its original color and may even take on a certain pinkish hue due to the added chemicals


As mentioned, curing meat is by far the best way to extend its shelf-life. Cured meat can easily last months and may even be able to resist spoilage even with unfavorable storage conditions (in some circumstances)

Uncured meat is also able to push the expiration date forward but will commonly spoil faster and have a shorter shelf-life compared to cured meat. 

Food scientists use a range of cooking and chemical preservation methods to extend the shelf-life of cured meat which is why you can store this type of processed food in different ways without worrying about its quality or integrity. 


Cured hot dogs aren’t exactly known for their nutrition as any type of processed meat is generally considered to be unhealthy, especially if you consume it regularly

These hot dogs have high sodium and a high-fat content, thus their delicious flavor. 

However, coupled with the addition of preservatives, cured hot dogs aren’t the best food for anyone’s diet and you should limit your consumption accordingly. 

Uncured Hot Dog Characteristics


Uncured hot dogs may taste the same as cured meat, depending on the quality of the product and the type of processing used to produce the hot dogs. 

Generally, uncured hot dogs have more sodium to counter the lack of flavor and to extend the shelf-life of the hot dogs too. This means that you may be able to get more or less the same flavors from both cured and uncured hot dogs. 

But for avid fans of cured hot dogs, some might be able to pick up on the subtleties and flavor discrepancies of uncured hot dogs.

However, if you are generally consuming them with condiments, then it will be very hard to differentiate both types


Uncured meat may look the same as cured meat but it may not be as pinkish or “bright”. The reason for this is the lack of strong chemical preservatives.

However, in most cases, if the product is used well before its expiration date, uncured hot dogs will look the same as cured hot dogs.

Depending on the age, quality of preservation, and storage conditions, uncured hot dogs may have more variations than cured hot dogs that are likely to remain constant throughout their storage duration. 


When it comes to the shelf-life of uncured hot dogs, you may easily be able to store them for up to several weeks.

While they don’t have the same extended expiration date of cured hot dogs, it is still a decent way to store them for the medium term. 

Remember, each brand is different when it comes to preservation and techniques. So, you will be able to gauge the difference between both cured and uncured meat when you compare them at the store.

Check the back of the packaging for proper labeling and the expiration date to compare. 


This is where uncured meat may have a disadvantage. 

Nutritionally, uncured meat may contain more salt than necessary to prevent the growth of bacteria. This means that you will be upping your intake of sodium with every serving.

If nutrition is an important factor for you then you should check out the back of the packaging to understand the daily values of the product that you are purchasing

Here’s a summary of all the differences:

Cured Hot DogsUncured Hot Dogs
Pinker, brighter color.Not as pink or bright.
Longer shelf-life.Shorter shelf-life compared to cured hot dogs.
Balanced flavor.Typically contains more sodium.
Uses chemical preservatives.Uses naturally sourced preservatives. 
Has nitrites and nitrates.May contain plant/vegetable-sourced nitrites. 

How To Cook Uncured Hot Dogs – Toppings And Ideas

Uncured hot dogs can be used in many different ways. Since both cured and uncured hot dogs are essentially the same product when it comes to their utility, you can use either of them in several dishes

Although both hot dogs can be used interchangeably, if you want to avoid artificial enhancers and chemical preservatives then we highly recommend that you stick with uncured hot dogs in all the recipes.

Here are a few great ideas for using uncured hot dogs:

The Classic Way

The classic way of having a hot dog is just putting it in a hot dog bun, adding some mustard or other condiments, and enjoying! 

Remember, just because you are using an uncured hot dog doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality or flavor!

Chopped Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are uniquely versatile, they can be added to sandwiches, salads, soups, pizzas, pies, and much, much more!

If you want to make the most out of their juicy flavor then we highly recommend that you chop them up and explore different possibilities! 

This is also a great technique to lessen the salty flavor of uncured hot dogs. For example, mixing chopped pieces of uncured hot dogs will blend seamlessly with most vegetables.

You can also use the chopped pieces in a wide variety of soups, noodles, gravies, and more! 

Fried Uncured Hot Dogs

Fried uncured hot dogs make for excellent comfort foods and you can get a lot out of their texture and flavor by either pan-frying or deep-frying them in a neutral oil, like canola

If frying isn’t preferred then you may also smoke or grill the uncured hot dogs for more or less the same experience! After all, there is nothing like a hot dog that has been adequately charred on each side!

The Go-To Recipe For Uncured Hot Dogs

Here is an excellent recipe for uncured hot dogs!

Firecracker Hot Dog

This recipe is truly one of the best ways you can use uncured hot dogs. Not only is this a great party snack but will also easily be able to satiate all your hot dog cravings. This is our go-to recipe for any occasion!

Here’s how to make it:


  • 1 uncured hot dog
  • 1 hot dog bun
  • 1 deli slice pepper jack cheese per hot dog
  • 1 large jalapeno chili pepper per serving
  • 1 large slice red onion per serving
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Ingredients for beer batter and jalapeno deep frying: 

  • Vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil for deep frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bottle) lager-style beer
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground


  • Start by making the jalapeno peppers! Slice the stem of the jalapeno and carefully remove the seeds using a knife. Be careful—you don’t want to puncture the exterior of the jalapeno! We need the chilis to be fully intact. 
  • Slice the jalapenos into rings. Cut thick pieces! Anything around 1/4 inch would work great with this recipe. 
  • Fry the jalapenos in hot oil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Set the fried jalapenos on a wire rack or kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.
  • Now, make the beer batter by combining all the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Simply pour in a beer of your choice all while slowly whisking the mixture until it has an almost thin consistency.
  • Dip the fried jalapenos in this batter and make sure that they are fully coated on all sides. 
  • Cook the coated jalapenos in hot oil until the exterior has a nice golden-brown color that is even on all sides. Remove from the oil and set the cooked jalapeno poppers over a wire rack to drain off any excess oil. 
  • Now, grill the onion slices! This step is optional but is an absolute must if you want the best flavor possible! Start by brushing each side of thickly cut onion slices with oil. Put them over a hot grill and cook them until they have beautiful grill marks on each side. The onions have to soften and become translucent. 
  • Assemble the firecracker hot dog! Cook the uncured hot dogs using any preferred method. We highly recommend either pan-frying or grilling them for the most authentic flavor. 
  • Optionally toast the buns or simply add pepper jack cheese and microwave until the cheese has melted. Add the hot dog in and top with lush, juicy onions and the fried jalapeno poppers!
  • Garnish with cilantro or any condiment of your choice and enjoy!

Related Questions 

Uncured hot dogs are a great way to cut down on potentially harmful preservatives. They are usually made using better preservation techniques and naturally sourced ingredients. 

Since uncured hot dogs are more or less similar to cured hot dogs in terms of flavor, we highly recommend that you try them for a change.

Now that you know all about uncured hot dogs, here are some related questions!

Do uncured hot dogs have plants or vegetables in them?

No, uncured hot dogs can be made of a mix of different types of meat or can also be found in all-beef varieties too. They usually do not have any vegetable pieces in them unless they are intentionally mixed to add texture

Uncured hot dogs, may, however, contain plant or vegetable-based nitrites that act as preservatives to keep the food from going bad. This is in contrast to chemical preservatives typically used in cured meats. 

Are uncured hot dogs the healthiest option? 

There are multiple answers to this question.

While uncured hot dogs are generally considered to be the healthier option compared to cured meat that may have potentially dangerous preservatives, uncured hot dogs still have lots of fat and salt in them.

But if you were to choose from two options, we would highly recommend that you give uncured hot dogs a try first since it has all the plus points of a hot dog but with a shorter shelf-life in comparison to cured meat. 

Are uncured hot dogs precooked?

Yes, just like typically cured hot dogs, the uncured variety is also fully cooked at the factory which means that you can use it in the same way as any other hot dog.

Please always check the back of the packaging for more storage and preparation information. 

Each brand has different ways of manufacturing uncured meat so it is always best to check with the brand on how to cook their particular product safely. 

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