It’s officially cookout season, and that means it’s time for hot dogs. A really good hot dog—meaty, juicy, flavorful, with a hearty snap when you bite into it—is summer in a bun. But if you’ve ever had a rubbery, soggy or dried-out dog, you know that it it’s all too possible to mess it up. Luckily, there’s more than one way to get it right. Here are three ways to cook hot dogs that will yield delicious results every time.
P.S. As with anything, your eating experience will be better if you start with good ingredients: Look for uncured, ideally grass-fed or organic dogs. Spring for good buns and a variety of healthy condiments, toppings and sides. And don’t forget to fill the cooler with refreshing fizzy beverages.
1. Hot Dogs on the Grill
If you’re like me, you try to cook as many things on the grill as possible in the summer. You get to cook outside, which often becomes a social occasion, and you just can’t beat the flavor of grilled foods, especially hot dogs. The high heat means you can crisp up the outsides fairly quickly and thoroughly, while the insides warm up but remain juicy.
Some people advocate for poaching hot dogs in water or beer first, then just finishing on the grill, but I’ve found that using indirect heat for most of the cooking and then moving to direct is less fussy and yields great dogs.
Here’s how to do it: Preheat a grill to 375ºF. Place the hot dogs on the grill over indirect heat, cover and cook, turning a few times, until the hot dogs are warmed through, 4 to 6 minutes. Move them to direct heat and cook, turning, until the hot dogs are crisp and grill marks appear, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
2. Air Fryer Hot Dogs
If you don’t have a grill, or if you can’t grill—no time to heat up the grill, it’s too hot out, it’s raining, etc.—grab your air fryer. Not only will it give you very similar results to the grill (minus the grill marks), it won’t heat up your kitchen and it takes less than 10 minutes.
You don’t need to cut slits in them, which can cause them to dry out, but your hot dogs may split a bit; that’s ok. Bonus: You can toast buns in the air fryer, too (it takes 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the buns and the fryer).
Get a Recipe: Air Fryer Hot Dogs from Recipe Critic
3. Stovetop Hot Dogs
If you don’t have a grill or an air fryer, or you’re short on time, or you’ve had a long day and you just don’t feel like dealing with the charcoal or lugging out the air fryer (is it just me?), don’t worry: You can make some great dogs right on your stove quite simply.
The key is to cook them in just enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet, so that the water cooks off and the hot dogs begin to get crisp (this usually takes about 3 to 4 minutes). Then add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet (it will melt quickly) and roll the hot dogs around in the hot butter until they begin to blister in spots, about a minute longer.
Get a recipe: How to Cook Hot Dogs in a Pan from Life Tastes Good