Cookout season is almost upon us and soon it’ll be time to break out the charcoal and invite people over for a good old-fashioned cookout. The hot dog is a cookout staple, and with the tips we’ve assembled below, your hot dogs will be the talk of the neighborhood.
1. Preheat the grill
Getting the perfect hot dog requires patience. Although you may be tempted to just fire up the grill and toss the dogs on, preheating it first ensures that your meal will be cooked evenly. Putting the dogs on the grill before it’s warm enough will also make them take longer to cook. If the hot dogs are on the grill too long, they can dry out and become less tasty.
2. Don’t overcook them
We’ve seen how failure to preheat the grill can result in overcooked hot dogs. But that can also be the result of user error. Many people don’t know exactly how long a hot dog should be cooked, and end up with dry, tough dogs that don’t taste nearly as well as they do when more experienced cooks prepare them.
A hot dog takes about 5-7 minutes to cook on the grill, and it should be turned occasionally. They should be cooked just long enough to heat them through and leave some grill marks.
3. Choose the right hot dog
This one is a matter of preference, but still an important factor in grilling the perfect hot dog. There are many different kinds of hot dogs available. They come in all beef, pork, chicken, and mixtures of each. There is also a large variation in taste between different hot dog brands.
By experimenting with the different meat and brand options, you may find that your old standby isn’t your favorite after all.
4. Use a clean grill
This one is important for sanitary reasons just as much as taste reasons. A grill with leftover food stuck from the previous cookout might have bacteria or other health hazards on it. Just as importantly, any contaminants on the grill will be transferred to the hot dogs as they cook. To avoid any unwanted tastes tainting your perfect hot dog, use a clean wire brush to remove any debris from the grates before you fire up the grill.
5. Keep them moist
Basting your hot dogs will keep them moist and can add additional flavor that compliments the natural taste of the meat. There are many hot dog bastes you can try. Sauces make a good option, with Worcestershire, barbecue, and teriyaki being common options. Some people also find butter to be a good way of keeping their hot dogs moist while adding only a mild flavor.
6. Toast the buns
Nearly every professional restaurant you go to will serve both hot dogs and hamburgers with the buns toasted. However, this practice is often skipped when cooking at home.
Thankfully, your grill also makes a very convenient toaster. Simply open your hot dog buns and place them cut-side down on the grill. After just a minute or two, they’ll be lightly toasted and ready to remove.
Now your grilled hot dogs are ready! Just add your favorite toppings and enjoy.
Pro Tip: Buy a roller attachment
When you go to the convenience store, you’ll see the hot dogs and other cylindrical-shaped foods slowly rotating under the heating elements. This helps to ensure that the hot dog is cooked evenly on all sides. Although you can manually turn your hot dogs, purchasing a roller attachment for your grill will provide you with that same flame-kissed flavor, but more evenly distributed than manual turning.
Of course, the perfect hot dog requires a well-functioning grill. At Clarks Ace Hardware, you can shop grills from the most popular brands. You’ll find plenty of accessories on hand to make your cookout a success as well. Visit our blogs for other helpful advice, including how to grill a restaurant-quality steak.