Hot dogs are a crowd favorite during summer grilling season, but it’s easy to make a mistake that ends up burning or drying them out. Luckily, there’s a few simple tricks you can use to ensure your grilled hot dogs are always perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that 7 billion hot dogs will be eaten this summer, with Memorial Day weekend kicking things off. One of the reasons they’re so popular is that they already come pre-formed and seasoned, making them an easy meat to cook without any extra prep time — unlike marinating chicken or making burgers from scratch.
And with the tips below, there’s no need to worry about any silly mistakes messing things up!
Make Sure the Hot Dogs Are Thawed
Although it might seem convenient, taking hot dogs straight from the freezer to the grill is not the way to go. Doing so causes the outside to brown super quickly before the inside has a chance to fully cook. Instead, let them thaw in the fridge overnight. Sure, it takes some time to plan ahead, but it will make a huge difference.
You can keep the hot dogs in their package if you plan on cooking them all or put your desired amount in a plastic zip bag. Either way, lay them on top of a plate to catch any excess moisture and place them in the fridge overnight.
Before cooking, let them sit on the counter to come up to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes while the grill is getting hot. This is a really simple step that helps achieve more even cooking.
Try Cutting a Spiral Pattern
If we want a charred hot dog, we usually just let it sit on the grill for a few extra minutes. Unfortunately, this can dry out the meat inside and make it more likely to just burn rather than char. We don’t know about you, but eating burnt hot dogs doesn’t sound like the best way to start summer!
To avoid this, try giving the hot dog a spiral cut pattern before it hits the grill. It sounds weird, but it creates more surface area so that the heat can get to every part of it. This allows for more crispy bits on the outside and a juicy inside. Plus, depending on how thick the hot dog is, it will cut down on the cooking time. The little nooks in the spiral also ensure that chunky toppings like relish and grilled onions don’t slide off the hot dog.
The experts at Delish have a simple method for creating the spiral: Insert a wooden skewer into the hot dog vertically (similar to a corn dog). Don’t worry if you accidentally pierce the outer casing in the process, just start again. Next, place the hot dog on a cutting board and roll it as you’re cutting with a small knife — creating the spiral pattern.
Then slide the skewer out and it’s ready to go on the grill to cook for just about eight minutes. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to turn an ordinary hot dog into something fun that’ll impress any guests at your summer BBQ!
Remember to Turn Them as They Cook
Once you place the hot dogs on the grill, it’s tempting to walk away and let them do their thing — but leaving them to cook in one spot makes them more likely to burn. And as Martha Stewart says, the number one rule when grilling meat is, “Basically, don’t burn your food.”
Instead, turning them and moving them to different spots of the grill every two to three minutes prevents any sticking, burning, or uneven cooking. The experts at Ready Set Eat also shared the best cook times for perfectly grilled hot dogs:
- Five to seven minutes for standard beef franks
- Seven to 10 minutes for jumbo franks
- 15 minutes for quarter-pound franks
And remember, they’ll take a little less time if you cut the spiral shape. In any case, just be sure to keep an eye on them!
Once the hot dogs come off the grill, grab a bun and dress them up how ever you like. You can never go wrong with classic condiments like yellow mustard or ketchup. Relish can add a sweet yet tart flavor, and chopped onions are great if you want a bit of crunch.
Although cooking hot dogs is already pretty easy, taking a few extra steps to make sure you get the maximum flavor from grilled hot dogs is totally worth it!