Summer means a lot of things to a lot of people, but everyone usually agrees on hot dogs. This classic food — easy to make, serve and clean up — is a must to really get in summer mindset.
Celebrate the season (at any time of the year!) with this overview of how to best enjoy your dog.
Decide on Your Dog
Any sausage served on a bun is considered a hot dog, so there’s plenty of room for personalization. When it comes to flavor, five types top our list:
- Franks: The classic dog. Cured all-beef sausage, typically flavored with garlic and paprika.
- Turkey/Chicken: The leaner alternative to franks. Cured varieties taste like traditional dogs, while fresh sausages can contain other ingredients, like jalapeño, cheddar and apple.
- Kielbasa: Polish smoked sausage traditionally made from ground pork, salt, pepper, garlic and marjoram.
- Bratwurst: Fresh, uncured pork sausage, sometimes with beef or veal added. Seasoned generously with spices like cardamom, coriander and caraway.
- Veggie: Meat-free franks, usually soy-based.
For the juiciest bite, grill hot dogs over direct heat. During the off-season, pop them in a 375°F oven for five to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until hot and golden brown. Or fry in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked throughout, about five minutes. Fresh, uncured sausages like Bratwurst may require longer cooking times.
Pick the Bun
Nestle hot dogs in the soft, pre-sliced buns from the bread aisle, or try:
- Poppy-seed: Chewy yeast rolls dusted with crunchy poppy seeds.
- Pretzel: Soft, salty and rustic — mustard’s best friend!
- Brioche: Rich and buttery French egg bread, perfect for spicy kielbasa sausage.
For the best results, toast buns on the grill or under the broiler so they don’t get soggy.
A Consideration for the Meat Lover
Re-think breakfast’s favorite meat: Wrap each dog with a strip of bacon, then cook in a skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until the bacon’s crisp and cooked throughout, about 10 minutes. As a final touch, drizzle with ketchup, barbecue sauce or a mix of the two!
Or build your ideal dog from an assortment of:
- Produce: Try chopped onion, sautéed bell pepper, diced tomato, sliced avocado or cubed mango, or opt for creamy cabbage slaw.
- Condiments: Spin standbys like ketchup and mustard into something special. Adding herbs into mustard and barbecue sauce into ketchup give the two classics new dimensions.
- Garnishes: Add a final burst of flavor and satisfying crunch with crumbled potato chips, or opt for fresh herbs or shredded cheese.
For cookouts big or small, please all sorts of tastes by serving hot dogs, buns and toppings buffet-style.
How do you prefer hot dogs, with classic condiments or built around a theme? Tell us about your favorite toppings in the comments section below!