hot dogs

(Photo by Ball Park Brand on Unsplash)

From sizzling sausages on the grill to loaded ballpark franks, hot dogs always seem to satisfy. Simple, sweet, and delicious, the best condiments for hot dogs turn ordinary hot dogs into new favorites. Catering to a wide range of tastes, condiments add depth, flavor, and a level of sophistication that’s hard to beat. 

This is a good thing for most Americans. Why? Because cooking the same old recipes repeatedly leads to boredom, burnout, and seeking new flavors. With findings from a new survey revealing that 53 percent of Americans consider themselves adventurous eaters, condiments can go a long way in enhancing our food experiences. Additionally, 58 percent of respondents stated they try different seasonings while 52 percent prefer switching up the base ingredients.

However, not all condiments are created equally. And in a world with many ingredients, finding the best condiments for hot dogs, sandwiches, burgers, and more can be challenging. This leads us to our next question, are hot dogs sandwiches? Because according to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, more than half think so, with 75 percent stating they put condiments on the bun first before adding the hot dog. When it comes to favorite condiments, Americans overwhelmingly prefer ketchup (63%) over mustard (27%). However, being an adventurous eater is a more prevalent trait among mustard lovers, rather than ketchup enthusiasts (42% vs 34%).

All the same, condiments are great for elevating food and pleasing our taste buds. From enjoying classic combinations to putting your unique spin on bold innovations, the best condiments for hot dogs will keep you coming back time and time again. To learn the saucy secrets and combinations that make hot dogs an American favorite today, StudyFinds put together a list of the top hot dog condiments according to food critics. Don’t see your favorite condiment listed below? Drop us a comment and let us know!

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A hot dog and condiments (Photo by Jessica Loaiza on Unsplash.com)

The List: Best Condiments for Hot Dogs, According to Experts

1. Ketchup

A timeless and beloved classic, ketchup is one of the most versatile condiments and a favorite amongst hot dog enthusiasts. With a rich, sweet-tangy body and bright color, ketchup has been bringing smiles to people’s faces for generations. This happens to be a favorite among our northern neighbors. “If you’re Canadian born and raised, ketchup is an iconic hot dog topping,” writes Maple Leaf Foods. “Reaching for ketchup is as natural a reflex for Canadians as gripping on a hockey stick.”

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Tomato Ketchup (Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash.com)

Nothing helps cut through a smoky hot dog better than tangy ketchup. Adding a nice contrast to hot dogs, this beloved condiment provides the perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness. “Despite having a lot of haters, ketchup still retains its reign as one of the most popular hot dog toppings,” mentions Yummy Dogs. For many, ketchup “is the crimson queen of mustard” and makes for “one flavorful combination.” 

Ketchup is a cultural staple worldwide. As stated by Restaurant Clicks, “It would be wrong to start off with any other hot dog topping because ketchup is the one that almost everyone reaches for first…It’s sweet and it complements the saltiness of the hot dog like no other condiment.” This is why “ketchup really is king when it comes to hot dogs.” 

2. Mustard

Its bold, zesty nature gives hot dogs a powerful kick of flavor and a bite that keeps you coming back for more. As stated best by Paste Magazine, “no hot dog is complete without the addition of mustard.” As “one of the truest condiments of them all,” mustard is a “blessed yellow sauce that is essential for every bite.” Referring to types of mustard, they add “Dijon is my first choice because I’m annoying, and if I can get it grainy, that’s even better. But I’m certainly not opposed to a simple yellow mustard either.”

French's Classic Yellow Mustard
French’s Classic Yellow Mustard

Mustard is a classic American condiment seen at nearly every backyard barbeque, sport venue, and family gathering. Often debated with ketchup as the best condiment of hot dogs, mustard is celebrated worldwide as one of the top favorites. As reported by WTKR, “mustard is one of the best condiments out of more than 350 toppings.” In fact, this zesty condiment is the “most popular topping five years running.”

Mustard is the type of condiment that you don’t mind running messy on your fingers. It’s literally that delicious. “Undoubtedly the king of toppings, mustard makes for the perfect hot dog pair,” says Yummy Dogs. “A whopping 71 percent of Americans prefer this golden yellow topping on their dogs.” 

3. Relish

Relish provides a refreshing melody of flavors and textures. Infusing sweet, crunchy, and tangy all in one bite, “relish on a hot dog is a must,” says Hot Dog Please. Offering an explosion of flavors, “relish can be sweet, sour, or sweet and sour” while they add a “much-needed sweet and sour taste to your hot dog.”

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Relish (Photo from Amazon.com)

Plus, there are forms of relish that extend beyond its traditional green origins. Some relishes are known to provide a hint of jalapeno, garlic, onion, or even dill. All the same, “relish gives your dog that much needed sweet and sour kick,” writes Yummy Dogs. Relish can be “sweet, spicy, sour, and even chunky with big slices of pickles for that extra crunch.”

For refreshing crispness that’s bursting with flavor, you have to go with relish. “Burgers have pickle chips, so why shouldn’t hot dogs have their own pickled vegetable counterpart?” asks Lets Eat Cake. Jokingly “better than a therapist,” hot dogs with relish are the perfect food to make you feel better “when life isn’t feeling fair.”

4. Chili

The practice of adding chili to hot dogs is one that dates back to the early 20th century. From American stadiums to local diners, chili dogs have grown into an American favorite. As stated by Hot Dog Please, “there’s nothing like the taste of a delicious hot dog – except one topped with chili!” Adding a “dollop of chili on top can make your hot dog more delicious.” Chili adds a hearty, spicy kick to an otherwise ordinary dish while enhancing your meal with “extra protein and nutrients.” 

Hot dog with Hormel Chili on it
Hot dog with Hormel Chili (Amazon)

Whether you’re watching the game, seeking a cozy family dinner, or grilling during a backyard barbeque, chili dogs always hit the spot. Just avoid the white t-shirt and don’t be afraid to dig in. As Yummy Dogs mentions, “chili is a topping that’s worth a try.” So long as you don’t mind “a little mess and a little spice,” this meaty stew topping often “stands alone, or is sprinkled with a bit of cheese.” 

Imagine sinking your teeth into a hot dog slathered in warm chili. The thought alone is enough to make you hungry. Perhaps that is why chili is ranked as one of the top hot dog condiments. As listed at WTKR, “chili is the second best hot dog topping out of more than 350 toppings…Americans love to put on their frankfurters.”  

5. BBQ Sauce & Crispy Onions

Name a better dynamic duo than barbeque sauce and crispy onions. I’ll wait. As Insanely Good Recipes asks, “if BBQ sauce and onion rings are good enough for a burger, why not your hot dog?” To elevate your experience further, “add some chopped onions” and “sweeten the experience with BBQ sauce.” In all honesty, “what’s not to love?” 

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Hot dog with BBQ Sauce & Crispy Onion Rings (Photo by A1DogsBurgers on Instagram.com)

Onions rings and barbecue sauce add an undeniable flair to hot dogs. With many different varieties of sauces available, food enthusiasts can put several different spins on their favorite frankfurters. As mentioned by Eat This, “for an added gourmet touch, include BBQ and crispy onions.” 

Crispy onions and BBQ sauce for hot dogs are the equivalent of ketchup and mustard for a burger. While you can have one without the other, they are better together. The same can be said here. Despite being a couple condiments shy of the iconic Memphis dog, “this hot dog is the real kicker,” says Let’s Eat Cake. “Whoever came up with that ‘ten I see’ pick up line was probably talking to these hot dogs.” 

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Tim Lanoue

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6 Comments

  1. Tom says:

    Ketchup, mustard, onions, relish. All on that the same time.
    A good mild or hot salsa is also good. This is also good on brauts and other types of sausages.

  2. Sylvanb says:

    Sauerkraut! Like the dogs on the Staten Island ferry back in the day.

  3. Banks says:

    I’ve enjoyed hot dogs with a wide variety of toppings, but none more satisfying than simple mustard with chopped sweet onions. Oh, and the hot dog itself needs to have a few blackened spots from the grill.

  4. Larry says:

    As a native Chicagoian l’ll say that there’s NO WAY ketchup will EVER grace? any hot dog that l would eat. There is ZERO need to play with what works, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Chicago dogs rule!

  5. MrM says:

    Kraut or kimchi

  6. Jerry says:

    I feel so very sorry for anyone that puts ketchup on a dog of any kind. Any adult who eats ketchup is just trying to relive their childhood.