How to Eat a Hot Dog

The hot dog (U.S.), Frankfurter (Germany), or Wiener (Austria), is one of the most popular and one of the most underrated foods in the civilized world. There are hot dog eating contests, hot dog cooking competitions; there are beef, pork, chicken and even vegetarian hot dogs. The variety of preparation is nothing short of astounding. Hot dogs are a staple on Wall Street and vendors can be found on virtually every street in the most metropolitan of cities including the U.S. cities of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and European locales such as Frankfort (where early relatives of the hot dog are thought to have originated), Paris, London and even Vienna (wienerwurst).

This cultural endemic comes in sizes ranging from just two inches (Vienna Sausage) to the foot-long “Coney” and even to the world record holder just over sixteen feet long! While eating a hot dog can be a simple “wolf it down” activity, a true aficionado will prepare and savor a hot dog with the attention one might expect from a five star chef. Here are a few ideas to make a possibly-boring food, something to be ardently experienced.


  1. Image titled DetermineEnviroment Step 1
    Determine the environment. How you prepare for this meal will depend greatly on the circumstances and surroundings. Is this a quick lunch; a party with friends; a “working lunch” with a business contact; something for the kids? Each of these situations require different methods of preparation and consumption. If you must be mundane and a quick lunch is your objective then these are the proper steps to follow.
  2. Image titled PrepIngredients Step 2
    Prepare the ingredients.
    • The Dog: The standard sausage hot dog made from beef or pork is the most common. You can also choose turkey or chicken, or, if you have dietary restrictions, even vegetarian, halal. Beef hotdogs, especially kosher dogs which are made from only the best cuts of beef (and usually have garlic in the recipe) are generally thought to be the best. They also typically cost more, but are well worth the price adjustment.
    • The bread bun: Ordinary white bread buns are most commonly used, but potato buns are much better and it is also becoming more common to make your own "New England style" buns out of a loaf of Italian bread.
    • Chips: Many people include potato chips or corn chips. Lay's is a popular brand potato chip that goes great with hot dogs, and the Kettle Cooked variety seems to go best.
    • Side dish: Potato salad or beans (baked beans or pork and beans are appropriate) go great with hot dogs.
    • Accompanying drink: The soda of your choice will always do, but Root Beer (Barq's) is recommended.
    • Garnishes and Condiments: Mustard, ketchup, relish compliment hot dogs well. More are listed below.
  3. Image titled CookHotdog Step 3
    Cook the hot dog.
    • Microwave oven: For the quick-and-dirty preparation, this works adequately. For a thawed, standard hot dog, between 30 and 60 seconds is quite enough. Hot dogs are precooked so you are only heating them to the right temperature. This method is for people who don't care what the thing looks like, smells like or what it tastes like, and are most likely more afraid of hunger than they are interested in eating a meal. One more note about the microwave method: If you cook them too long they will pop like popcorn. Some people enjoy watching this process and eating the strange shaped fragments.
    • Pay Fry: This is the preferred method. It takes a bit longer, but the taste is well worth the effort. Use a non-stick spray and turn the dogs frequently. The objective is a golden brown with just a few dark streaks.
    • Boil: For straight from the hot dog cart taste you can boil the dogs. They're already cooked so just leave it in until it's hot or it splits!
    • Optional: Slice the dog before cooking. This will allow you additional serving options.
  4. Image titled PreparePresentation Step 4
    Prepare the presentation. Even a fast lunch is more appealing when served appropriately. This takes very little time, and you'll drastically improve the quality of your meal.
    • Plate, napkin, or neither? Many people enjoy eating hot dogs with just their hands with a napkin nearby. If your dog is loaded with toppings, definitely go for a plate to catch the falling goodies.
    • Garnish: Chopped onions, relish, chili, and sauerkraut are popular. Sprinkle on as much as you like, or as much as will stay in the bun while you are biting the dog.
    • Condiments. Mustard is the standard condiment, although some people will put things like ketchup or mayonnaise on a hot dog with the mustard or by themselves. Place the dog on the bun and squeeze the mustard on the dog (not on the bun) so it forms a long serpentine or a zig-zag shape.
    • Chips and side dish: Add chips and a side dish.
  5. Image titled Eat Step 6 1
    Eat. The way to eat this preparation is entirely casual. It is not uncommon to drip mustard on clothing and that is perfectly acceptable for this weekend afternoon family fun.


  • It’s a good idea to have more than one dog per person. These are very popular.
  • Let the kids help. Children love to be a part of this and you can make it a fun activity for everyone.
  • Cheese makes a great addition if you have sliced the dog before cooking.


  • Depending on the brand, the dog might burst in your mouth if you bite the puckered end. Don't burn yourself!
  • Overheating the dog will make it tough.
  • Avoid hot dogs that are infused with red dye, as these can pose a health concern.

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Categories: Eating Techniques