Yes, there’s something nostalgic about a plain, no-frills hot dog on a white bun with nothing but mustard or ketchup, but believe us when we say that you haven’t lived until you’ve tried making your hot dog gourmet. We’re taking our dogs to the next level with some easy tricks and never looking back.
Brace yourself — these are not the boiled wienies of your youth.
1. Spiral cut
Cutting your hot dogs into a spiral before grilling or pan-frying them ensures that you’ll get a thoroughly cooked dog with extra-crispy edges and tons of extra nooks and crannies for all your favorite toppings and condiments to nestle into.
Slice crosshatch lines into your hot dogs, then slather them in barbecue sauce before grilling. You’ll get a flavorful hot dog that has tons of crispy, charred bits on the outside while remaining super juicy on the inside.
If you’re really desperate for a hot dog but don’t have a full kitchen or a grill, you can cook them up in your coffeepot. They’ll come out nice and juicy, like a steamed dog from a hot dog cart.
4. Cut and boil
Want to wow your kids? Cut designs or their initials into a raw hot dog, then simmer it in hot water until cooked through. As they cook, the hot dogs will expand where they were cut, making fun designs. My dad did this when my sister and I were little, and it was always super fun to pick our monogrammed hot dogs out of the pot!
5. Split and stuff
Jazz up your hot dogs with this simple trick. Split them down the middle, then stuff with cheese. Or go wild with it, and stuff with sauerkraut and onion too. Basically the hot dog is your oyster. For a finishing touch, wrap the whole thing in bacon before you grill. It’ll keep the filling inside from spilling out, and the bacon will add even more flavor to the hot dogs.
6. Slow cooker hot dogs
Make hot dogs for up to 60 people in a 5-quart slow cooker. You literally just have to add them to the slow cooker, standing on their ends, and then cover and cook. They cook in their own steaming juices and stay super succulent.
7. Spaghetti dogs
Slice hot dogs into 1-inch segments, and then spear the pieces with raw spaghetti, making a fun dinner when cooked up. You wind up with tangles of spaghetti going right through bites of hot dog.
8. Octopus bites
Just in case your kids aren’t already gaga over hot dogs, try this cute technique that turns hot dogs into little octopuses with just a few strategic cuts.
9. Hot dog taquitos
Make a super-easy, on-the-go snack by wrapping a hot dog, cheese and onion in a tortilla, then rolling it up and giving it a quick fry. Trust me, it’s way better than a bun.
10. Marinated sliced dogs
These hot dogs are shallowly cut on the bias, then marinated in ketchup and Worcestershire sauce before grilling. You get super-flavorful dogs with extra-charred goodness thanks to the cuts.
11. Cocktail dogs
Why bother buying a special pack of cocktail wieners when you can just make your favorite appetizer using hot dogs and your slow cooker instead?
Originally published July 2016. Updated July 2017.