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The Best Way To Cook A Hot Dog

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There are many ways to prepare a hot dog, but which way is best?

Of all the delicious products we sell at Snake River Farms, you could argue our hot dogs are the easiest to cook. Just throw them on the grill or broil them in the oven and off you go. In honor of National Hot Dog Month, we decided to take a closer look and give you some insight into the best way to cook our American Wagyu Hot Dogs.

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Like most hot dogs, Snake River Farms dogs are fully cooked. This tends to add to the confusion. If the product is already cooked, does it matter how you heat it up? The simple answer is “yes” but a simple online search yielded a long list of possible ways to cook a hot dog:

  • Grill – obvious.
  • Stove top – old school.
  • Microwave – convenient, but no thank you.
  • Bake – sounds like a good way to dry out a hot dog.
  • Broil – a once popular way to cook a dog.
  • Toaster oven – people still own toaster ovens?
  • Panini grill – fancy!

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We headed to the kitchen and the patio to run a few tests and discovered a few things. First of all, it’s hard to mess up a Snake River Farms hot dog. The two surest ways to make a sub-optimal dog are to overcook (burn) or undercook them. There’s nothing really enjoyable about a hot dog with a cold center.

Use a Thermometer

If you like to grill high quality meat, you probably own an accurate thermometer. You can and should use it for hot dog cooking. The USDA recommends cooking and keeping hot dogs at 140 degrees.

We experimented a bit and found we preferred our hot dogs when the temperature was 150 to 160 degrees. At this temperature, the flavor was enhanced and the texture was firm to the bite. Once you get over 160 degrees, the dogs were noticeably less juicy and the overall texture was tough. At 140 degrees and under, the flavor just wasn’t quite as bright and savory. It really doesn’t take much more time or effort to get your dogs past 140 degrees, so give it a try.

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Here are the details of the specific cooking methods we tried.

Using The Grill

If you have a grill, especially a gas grill, there’s no easier way to fire up a batch of dogs in a hurry without messing up the kitchen. There are two schools of thought when it comes to grilling a skin-on hot dog like those from Snake River Farms. The first is to cook them until they burst or split. Many of our East coast customers prefer this method and say it’s the traditional way to prepare their dogs.

The second is to grill slowly to develop a nice char, warm the hot dog all the way through and keep all the savory juices inside.

We tried both. Our preference is the “slow grill” method. The hot dog has a nice crust, it has a noticeable pop when you bite into it and it’s juicy and flavorful.

The Splitter is still a great method. If you’re careful and remove the dog from the grill “split side up” you keep most of the juice and it does add some texture. The juices spill on to the bun and there are convenient pockets for condiments to settle.

Both methods are simple to execute. Here’s how:

First up – The Slow Grill

Light grill and set it to medium.

Once up to temp, place hot dogs on the grill.

As soon as the dog starts to heat and brown, rotate them one quarter turn.

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Continue until the outside develops a nice crust and the internal temperature is about 150 degrees.

Remove hot dogs from the grill and serve.

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The Splitter

Light grill and set to medium.

Once up to temp, place hot dogs on the grill.

As soon as the dog starts to heat and brown, rotate them one quarter turn.

Continue until the outside develops a nice crust and the internal temperature is about 140 degrees.

Turn up the heat to medium high and let the hot dogs cook until they split.

As soon as the dogs split, remove from the grill.

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Remove from the grill split side up to keep the juices from spilling out and serve.

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Next, we moved back into the kitchen. One common way to cook a hot dog is to boil it in water. It’s as simple as placing hot dogs in water, then bring them up to boil, drain and serve. We have certainly cooked hot dogs like this in the past, but the sight of a grey, boiled dog always left us a little cold. If that’s your method of choice, have at it. We decided to bust out a frying pan and go a different route.

The Stove Top

My mother was an amazing cook and made dishes that dazzled family and friends for miles around. On the other hand, my father made things like ketchup sandwiches. I did learn one lasting cooking tip from him and that was to cook a hot dog properly you had to cook it in beer. I’ve utilized that nugget of information to provide a first rate stove top

Place frying pan or skillet on burner.

Add enough beer (or water if you prefer) so there is one half inch of liquid in the pan.

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Turn the burner to medium until the beer begins to simmer.

Add hot dogs and cook until the beer has reduced by half and the hot dog is 140 degrees.

Pour out any remaining beer and place hot dogs on a plate.

Wipe out pan and add a splash of vegetable oil.

Put hot dogs back in the pan, turning frequently.

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When the dogs have an even brown color remove and serve.

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It’s no surprise. Snake River Farms Gourmet Hot Dogs are easy to prepare. While there is no right or wrong method, we found that cooking until the internal temperature is at least 150 degrees provides the best flavor and texture. We focused on our American Wagyu dogs, but these techniques apply to our Double R Ranch hot dogs as well. Now get out there and celebrate National Hot Dog Day! Your family and friends will thank you.