The sound of the sizzle, the satisfying snap when you take your first bite, the sweet, savory, smoky, salty goodness of condiments and grilled meat and toasted buns…
This is what hot dog season is all about!
But what about when that timeless and tasty tubed meat lets you down?
Not to worry, it’s just time to shake up your grill game a little.
And with that, we bring you our round-up of wild and crazy topping suggestions, homemade sauces, and prep methods from some of our favorite bloggers around the web, to help you bring some excitement back to your barbecue repertoire.
In the market for a new grill? Foodal’s got you covered with our series of reviews for every budget and space, from charcoal backpacking grills to full-size gas grills with rotisseries and infrared burners.
Super Cheesy or Saucy
Mac and Cheese
Deborah Harroun’s mac and cheese dogs are the real deal, topped with homemade cheesy pasta.
Grill the buns and dogs in the backyard, or just heat the hot dogs in a little simmering water on the stove before serving.
Get the recipe on Taste and Tell.
Dr. Pepper Barbecue
Sweet, savory, salty, and spicy, this one’s got it all, slathered with homemade Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce and topped with sliced fresh jalapenos.
Christin Mahrlig at Spicy Southern Kitchen is a Dr. Pepper lover, and you will be too when you try this recipe.
Chipotle Cheese Sauce & Bacon-Corn Relish
If you’re not craving sweet pickle relish, sweet summer corn is the answer. When that’s not available, feel free to use frozen. And a little bacon never hurts, right?
Drizzled with homemade spicy chipotle cheese sauce and topped with relish, you won’t even miss the ketchup and mustard.
Check out Justine Sulia’s recipe on Cooking and Beer.
South of the Border & Tex-Mex
In the mood for rich, chocolatey molé? It’s great with grilled meat!
Avocado, juicy tomato, crumbled cotija cheese, and earthy, flavorful molé sauce top these grilled franks. You won’t be able to stop at just one!
You can find Megan Keno’s Mexican-inspired recipe on Country Cleaver.
Make your favorite tasty party snack or game night appetizer into a meal, with this recipe from Sommer Collier at A Spicy Perspective.
Topped with crushed tortilla chips for added crunch, you can make your guacamole, crema, and salsa at home, or grab some from the story for a quick and easy summertime weeknight dinner.
Donna Kelly’s recipe for fajita-style hot dogs is definitely protein rich. Refried beans are mixed with shredded cheddar and salsa, heated until the cheese is melted, and spread onto a bun.
Add grilled peppers and onions, a little bit of mustard, and you’re ready to go!
Well, almost – don’t forget the hot dog (though we’re thinking you actually could here… maybe skip the mustard, and you’ve got a great option to serve vegetarian guests at your next barbecue).
Check out the recipe on Apron Strings.
Green Chili Mole
Merge Taco Tuesday with grill night and make this one for your friends, alongside some refreshing tomatillo mojitos.
First, start with Sommer Collier’s homemade molé, made with Ancho and Pasilla peppers, onions, garlic, peanut butter, and Mexican chocolate.
Top your tasty franks with that sauce, plus chopped ripe avocado, salsa verde, pico de gallo, and queso fresco.
So good – we wish we had one right now! Check out the recipe on A Spicy Perspective.
Bombay-Inspired with Mango Relish & Curried Mayo
Mayo flavored with Madras curry powder and honey is slathered on grilled hot dogs, then topped with a homemade relish of fresh jalapeno, cilantro, mango, and lime. Yum!
Perhaps it’s a little ironic that beef dogs are called for in Phoebe Lapine’s recipe, as a large percentage of Indian eaters are vegetarian Hindus. Nonetheless, this is a tasty dog that’s big on Indian-style flavor. The toppings would make a great addition to veggie dogs as well!
Get the recipe on Feed Me Phoebe.
Whether you like to make your own kimchi at home or you buy it in a jar from the store, it makes an excellent topping for grilled frankfurters.
At your next cookout, ditch the sauerkraut, and go for a spicier version of healthy fermented cabbage. Make it extra delicious by brushing the buns with melted butter before you grill them.
You’ll find Christine Hadden’s recipe on Foody Schmoody.
Sweet Chili Thai Peanut
Chop up some ripe mango and cucumber, fresh herbs and shallots, and add a drizzle of sweet chili sauce and some savory peanut sauce, and you’ve got an irresistible Thai-inspired dish.
Its combination of flavor and textures hits all the right notes, a fresh and tasty way to serve your family and your guests something unexpected this grilling season. Megan Keno has the recipe on Country Cleaver.
Greek Hummus & Tzatziki
Gyros and falafel aren’t the only dishes that taste great topped with a little hummus and a cool cucumber yogurt sauce.
Courtney Rowland has the recipe on NeighborFood, and she recommends garnishing these with diced bell pepper, cucumber, and onion for a fresh take on a grill time favorite.
Love pizza? Adults and kids alike will come running for these dogs, topped with pepperoni, pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella and Italian herbs.
Added bonus: it’s a big hit with the ketchup and mustard averse!
Serve with a big green salad topped with marinated artichokes, mushrooms, pickled, eggplant and pepperoncini (or your own favorite Italian-style salad fixins) and dinner’s ready!
South American Style
Denise Browning’s recipe for Cachorro Quente is topped with saucy ground beef sauteed with garlic, onions, cumin, bell pepper, tomato, and herbs, plus melted cheese.
If you like chili dogs, you’ll love these! Get the recipe for Brazilian-style deliciousness on From Brazil To You.
Dogs heavy on the flavorful toppings are a tradition in Colombia, and Diana Lopez has the recipe for a basic version on Sweet y Salado.
Topped with mayo, ketchup, mustard, cole slaw, shredded mozzarella, and crushed potato chips, you’re guaranteed to get the full cookout experience in every bite!
Diana also offers suggestions for even more adventurous and flavorful toppings, like garlic mayo, pineapple sauce, chimichurri, bacon, and even quail eggs.
There’s a how-to video to go with this recipe as well. Check it out here.
American Regional Favorites
L.A. Street Dogs
If you’ve ever walked around Downtown Los Angeles in the afternoon when the weather’s warm (which is just about always), or been ejected onto the sidewalk after a stadium show to find yourself moving along with the crowd as if you and the thousands of other concert-goers were suddenly one (Hollywood Bowl, anybody?), you’ve probably noticed the many sidewalk vendors selling deliciously greasy bacon-wrapped hot dogs.
Sizzling on sheet pans on the side of the road or passed through the windows of mobile food carts, you need to be quick if you want to get one of these (and careful where you’re walking, if you want to avoid a nasty burn)!
Making your own bacon-wrapped Danger Dogs at home – topped with a flavorful combo of mustard, mayo, and ketchup alongside grilled onions, bell pepper strips, and a jalapeno – is less risky. Billy Vasquez, a.k.a. The 99 Cent Chef, has the recipe. You’ll find it here.
Billy’s post also includes a helpful video describing the history of Tijuana Dogs as he walks around L.A., and makes the local delicacy in his own kitchen.
Fancy Chicago Style
If you’re a fan of the Chicago-style dog you’ll love this recipe, topped with crispy onions, pickles, peppers, chopped tomato and – of course – mustard. No ketchup here!
Plus, there’s an added twist… quite literally. These dogs are spiralized, so they’ll be extra crispy.
If you’re not all about the fluffy white bread bun, there are lots of options out there, to please every palate.
Here’s one of them: wonton wrappers.
Filled with gooey cheese and baked until they’re crunchy and golden brown, this version from Haley Nelson at Cheap Recipe Blog is great for dipping.
Putting a Jewish spin on the whole hog dog thing, you’ll love Chanie Apfelbaum’s recipe for Corndog Hamantaschen.
In case you’re not already familiar with hamantaschen, they’re typically triangular cookies or pastries, filled with dried fruit, poppy seeds, jam, chocolate, or even cheese. But this recipe takes them to a whole new level, corn dog style!
Sliced hot dogs are wrapped with cornmeal and then baked until lightly browned and crispy, ready for dipping in mustard or ketchup, or garnishing with your favorite toppings.
How’d Chanie come up with the recipe? She says she has no idea. You’ll find it on Busy in Brooklyn.
Pringles Deep Fried
Nick Chipman at Dude Foods is all about experimentation, and creating new combinations in the kitchen. Oh, and junk food!
If hot dogs on a stick are your dream come true, whip up this deep fried version at home, breaded with crushed Pringles potato chips. Nick’s helpful how-to video will (very quickly– like in 30 seconds or less) guide you through the process.
Summer-Style Mac & Cheese
Pasta makes an excellent substitute for your roll, but you’re going to need a fork to eat this one. Feel like a kid again with a big bowlful of chopped frankfurters and cheesy, gooey macaroni.
Wondering what makes this dish “summer style”? Donny Gamble at Savory Style explains: the ketchup and mustard, of course!
Chicken tube meat is a thing, so why not make it buffalo style?
Just like your beloved wings, these are drizzled with classic Buffalo sauce, and topped with crumbled blue cheese and chopped celery.
Less messy to eat than wings, there’s also no bones to deal with! Dax Phillips has the recipe on Simple Comfort Food.
Smoky Barbecue Carrot Dogs with Creamy Chickpea Salad
If you haven’t checked out Estonian blogger Sandra Vungi’s vegan recipes yet, this is the perfect place to start.
Marinated and grilled carrots stand in for the meat, and the whole thing is topped with a creamy vegan chickpea salad.
You’ve probably eaten your fill of veggie burgers by now. So give these a try! The recipe is on Vegan Sandra.
Surf & Turf
Sometimes nothing beats the combination of seafood and meat – in wiener form, in this case.
From Foodal’s Kendall Vanderslice, we bring you the po’ boy hot dog sandwich, a grilled dog on a bun with mustard, mayo, lettuce, and tomato, topped with buttermilk batter-fried shrimp. You’ve got to try this thing.
Bonus: Looking for a little light reading to enjoy in the backyard hammock while you’re chowing down?
Check out this post from Emily Contois, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame… And Eat 33,000 Hot Dogs.” It includes a bonus reading list that links to books and articles that detail the fascinating history of franks.
What’s your go-to topping selection? And what will you do to spice it up this season? Let us know in the comments!
Photos Credits: All photography in this article is owned and copyrighted by their respective owners as identified. Used with permission by Ask the Experts, LLC. All rights reserved by all parties. Additional link contributions by Nan Schiller and Lori Hendrix.
About Allison Sidhu
Allison M. Sidhu is a foodie from Philly who is based in Los Angeles, where she loves exploring the local restaurant scene with her husband. She holds a master's degree in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up something tasty (or listening to the latest food podcasts while she does the dishes!) you’ll probably find Allison tapping away at her keyboard, curled up with a good book (or ready to dominate with controller in hand in front of the latest video game) on the couch, or devouring a food-filled magazine at the beach.