We Did a Massive Taste-Test and Found the Best Healthy Hot Dogs
To be considered for our taste test, I looked at hot dogs that were made from beef that’s grass-fed and/or certified humane. The franks also had to be uncured (meaning that natural salts and seasonings are used to preserve them, as opposed to nitrates and other chemicals usually found in cured meats). Finally, I eliminated any with long ingredient lists and any that had ingredients I didn’t recognize.
For testing purposes, I cooked all of the hot dogs the same way: in a skillet. My kid ate them in Trader Joe’s Brioche Buns (#brooklyn), while my husband and I ate them solo or atop salads.
I evaluated them based on flavor, texture, seasoning, and snap. In no particular order, here are the wiener winners (I’ll show myself out).
1. Applegate Organics The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog
These franks tick a few boxes, being the most kid-friendly of the bunch as well as Whole30-approved. They’re made with 100% grass-fed beef and spices, with no sugar, dairy, or casein. Their thinner shape and snap when you bite into them add to the kid appeal, and the simple, beefy taste makes them great on their own or with your favorite toppings.
2. Niman Ranch Fearless Uncured Beef Franks
Made from Certified Humane beef and just a few spices, without added nitrites or nitrates, and hickory smoked, these are a crowd pleaser. They’re rich and meaty but not overly complex, with a thick, almost sausage-like texture. (In fact, a sliced one even stood in for sausage alongside eggs one hungry morning.)
3. US Wellness Meats Beef Franks
If you have a fondness for ballpark dogs, these will be your jam. They have the same spice profile, but ramped way up, so they’re like the richest, beefiest, most flavorful version of them. The ballpark franks of your dreams, essentially. They have less snap than other brands, but we didn’t mind that. These are awesome all-around hot dogs that we could see grilling up all summer and beyond.
Buy It: US Wellness Meats Beef Franks
4. Thousand Hills Hickory Smoked Beef Hot Dogs
With their slightly smoky flavor, these hot dogs lean toward being more sausage-like, while maintaining their hot-dogginess. They’re stronger on the beefy flavor than on the spice, making them great vehicles for all kinds of toppings. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the nice snap and full flavor of these dogs.
5. KC Cattle Company Wagyu Gourmet Hot Dogs
These are the Cadillac of hot dogs. Uncured and made from wagyu beef, they’re perfectly spiced and so, well, beefy, full of complex flavor and umami. In fact, they’re so super-rich and satisfying, a bun and toppings almost seem unnecessary. Bonus: The veteran-owned company employs veterans, and donates some of its proceeds to foundations benefiting veterans.
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