There are two types of people in the world: Those who prefer burgers and those who prefer hot dogs—and the divide becomes clear at any cookout.
Personally, I’m firmly in the hot dog camp. From the satisfying snap when you bite into the pillowy bun that lets you pile on practically any topping, I say hot dogs are the all-American summer meal. (After all, vendors don’t yell “Burgers! Burgers!” at ball games, right?)
At your next barbecue, you’ll want to make sure the best hot dogs are plated up next to loaded juicy burgers like these on the buffet. To find out which brand is best, our sister site Taste of Homegot together some hot dog aficionados for a blind taste test. Testers tried six popular brands of store-bought hot dogs and picked a few winners.
Honorable Mention: Great Value Uncured Beef Franks
The tasting panel deemed Walmart’s store brand as the “standard” hot dog. Though it was saltier than the other top picks, all testers agreed that we’d be happy to eat this at a cookout. If you’re hosting a larger event, Great Value’s beef franks are a budget-friendly choice (they’re as much as $1 cheaper than competitor brands!). Here are a few other affordable dinner ideas that are big on taste.
Tasters agreed that this dog had the most unique flavor of the bunch, and with good reason. They discovered that Hebrew National packs its franks with garlic powder and paprika—two of the ten essential spices that every cook should own. The panel also found that these franks were firm and substantial, perfect for feeding even the most famished cornhole winner.
Best in Show: Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks
Host of the annual 4th of July hot dog eating contest, this brand took the title of champion. The panel unanimously agreed that Nathan’s Famous combined all of the best qualities into a winning hot dog. It tasted flavorful—seasoned but not salty—and had a gentle snap with every bite. Nathan’s Famous has had plenty of time to perfect the recipe: The company has been serving up its signature franks for well over a century (kind of like these other legacy brands you need to know about).
If you’re at the store and need to choose the best hot dog for your outdoor cookout, any of these finalists would make a great choice. However, Nathan’s Famous may just win over the hamburger enthusiasts in your group.
What to Make Next
While it’s easy to douse hot dogs in the standard squiggles of ketchup and mustard, here are a few more ways to make your franks the talk of the party:
DIY dogs: Set up a topping bar for guests to customize their dog. To keep organized, separate pre-prepped condiments using a muffin tin.
Wrap ’em up: Make meal-sized pigs-in-blankets with our Hot Dog Roll-Ups recipe. Refrigerated crescent rolls help this four-ingredient dish come together in a snap.
Pile on the chili: Put a pound of ground beef to work in this recipe for loaded Chili Coney Dogs. (Don’t skip the sprinkle of onions on top!)
Optional: Compress watermelon by placing in a vacuum sealed bag and removing all air and sealing closed. This compresses the juices in the watermelon and makes it look just like tuna poke.
Set oven to 350°F. Lay pine nuts in a single layer on a baking tray and toast in oven until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
Dice tomatoes into medium sized pieces. Remove the skin and seed of the avocado and dice into medium sized pieces. Mix with the juice of 1 lime and Morton® Fine Sea Salt. Fold in watermelon, tomato, ponzu, sesame oil, and green onions.
Divide poke into 4 bowls. Top with seaweed salad, pine nuts, and sesame seeds. Finish with a sprinkle of Morton® Coarse sea salt.
Maple Mustard Glazed Tofu Skewers from House Foods
2 pkg. House Foods Tofu Extra Firm
4 Tbsp. pure Vermont maple syrup
4 Tbsp. stone ground mustard
1 ½ Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¾ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes before using
Drain and dry the block of tofu with paper towels. Wrap the block of tofu in a thick layer of paper towels and place on a plate. Lay another flat-bottomed plate (or small cutting board) on top of the tofu and place a can or two of beans on the plate/cutting board to weigh down the tofu, which will help press excess moisture from it. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the maple syrup, mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Cut the tofu into 1-inch thick slices, then cut again into 1-inch cubes. Place the tofu in the maple-mustard sauce and toss to coat the tofu. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
Thread the tofu on wooden skewers that have been soaked beforehand.
Lightly brush the grates of your gas grill with oil. Heat the grill flames over medium heat. Once hot, add the tofu skewers and grill until browned and crispy, 12 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally to brown them on all sides. Brush the skewers liberally with any remaining maple-mustard sauce in the last 5 minutes of grilling.
Southwest Burgers with Pepper Jack Cheese and Avocado Salsa Blogging Over Thyme | Laura Davidson
1 1/2 large ripe avocados, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more whole leaves for serving
1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 16-ounce container Hood Cottage Cheese with Cracked Pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Blue corn tortilla chips, for serving
In a large bowl, gently toss together the mango, avocado, lime zest and juice, cilantro, jalapeño, red onion, salt, and several grinds of black pepper.
Place the Hood Cottage Cheese with Cracked Pepper in a large shallow serving bowl (or divide among 4 to 6 smaller shallow bowls).
Create a well in the middle by pressing and spreading the back of a large spoon into the middle of the cottage cheese while turning the bowl in the opposite direction. Pile the mango salsa into the center of the well.
Drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil over the salsa and cottage cheese. Garnish with a few whole cilantro leaves and a pinch more salt on top. Serve alongside tortilla chips.