There’s no such thing as an All-American cookout without hot dogs, burgers, or chicken wings fresh off the grill. But what are the best hot dogs to help take your warm-weather cookouts to the next level? Whether you’re grilling, steaming, or frying, the top-notch dogs tend to be noticeably better than the others.
While we can all agree that the best hot dogs make the perfect ballpark snack or an excellent meal at your family cookouts, one thing we can’t agree on is whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich. One poll sought to answer this question and settle the hot dog-sandwich debate once and for all.
According to a recent poll of 2,000 Americans, more than half of respondents say they consider a hot dog to be a sandwich. Of those surveyed, 53 percent say they consider a hot dog to be a sandwich while 75 percent of respondents say they prefer to add their condiments to the bun before their hot dog goes in. Thirty-three percent of that group claim they add condiments before anything else because it’s less of a mess.
Eating preferences aside, hot dogs aren’t known for their health benefits. Although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a hot dog from time to time, you probably don’t want to make them a regular staple of your diet. In fact, researchers from the University of Michigan say that eating a hot dog shortens your “healthy life” by up to 36 minutes. Most of this is due to hot dogs being processed and full of unnatural additives.
While most aren’t looking for hot dogs as a healthy meal, we’re all likely to enjoy one at a cookout or ball game this summer. StudyFinds did the digging, consulting 10 foodies and expert review websites in an effort to find the best hot dogs. As always, feel free to give us your recommendations in the comments section below!
The List: Best Hot Dogs, According to Experts
“Hebrew National has topped our charts in previous hot dog taste tests, so it was no surprise that it offered the best brats in this one. Besides containing quite a bit of beef flavor, each hot dog packs 10 grams of protein,” explains All Recipes.
That’s a lot of protein for a hot dog, or anything for that matter. Still, Hebrew National has seemingly perfected the art of seasoning a hot dog. “The biggest score, though, is the spice blend. Hebrew National is dense with wonderful flavor. Salt, spice, garlic powder, and paprika combine to create a juicy bite of beef that’s so good the hot dog starts to flavor the hot dog bun itself with its deliciously spiced beef juices,” raves Sporked.
You know it’s one of the best hot dogs when it starts influencing the taste of the bun. One of the best parts of Hebrew National is they’re available nearly everywhere. And your kids are sure to love them as well.
“Both [taste testers] loved the spice level of this hot dog, actually detecting garlic in the flavor profile—garlic powder happens to be an ingredient instead of miscellaneous spices. This juicy frank had a firm bite but was soft in the center, making it a good candidate for a snack for the kids,” writes Eat This, Not That.
Nathan’s Famous is a historic brand that originated on New York’s Coney Island. We can honestly say that Nathan’s Famous made a strong push for the top spot on the list. A few of the review sites we visited ranked Nathan’s as number one, and most had them in the top five to eight.
“The original. The best. The pinnacle of a hot dog. This one comes from one of the oldest hot dog companies in America. Its founder, Nathan Handwerker, was a Polish immigrant who worked at a Coney Island hot dog stand until he was able to scrounge up enough money to open his own business in 1916,” explains Consumer Reports.
Again, the history behind these hot dogs can’t be denied, and their existence on store shelves is a true American success story. But, you’re not making the list of best hot dogs without being incredibly delicious.
“Both tasters loved this dog, praising the ‘juicy, smooth even spices’ and ‘tangy and tasty’ flavors. The texture of the frank was firm, but it was also light and easy to bite, ensuring that the hot dogs wouldn’t escape from the bun and leave all the toppings behind,” writes Eat This, Not That.
“With alternating layers of smoke, sweetness, and salt captured in a magically skinless package that chars up perfectly every time, this is all anyone could ever possibly want in a hot dog,” adds Thrillist.
Yet another New York-based hot dog brand – Sabrett Skinless Beef Frankfurters. These hot dogs appeared in the top seven across 60 percent of the lists we consulted, and for great reason.
“These dogs will have you singing ‘New York, New York’ at first bite. They’re just like the ones you get with the works from a Manhattan street cart. They’ve got hickory smoke flavor added and a natural casing that makes them the snappiest hot dogs on our list. The casing is tied off at the end of each dog, so they have a homemade look. They’re super juicy and flavorful when boiled,” writes Pure Wow about the brand’s natural casing dogs, which are another popular pick.
For what it’s worth, Sabretts aren’t really made to be grilled. Again, Sabrett hot dogs are designed to replicate the hot dogs you get from street vendors in New York. “If you live in New York City, you know Sabrett. It’s the hot dog hawked in carts across the five boroughs, all beneath an iconic blue-and-yellow Sabrett-branded umbrella. Delish HQ is located in the Big Apple, so this brand is near and dear to many of our tasters. But nostalgia aside, it delivers,” explains Delish.
“Do you love hot dogs you can buy from street vendors in New York City? If so, you’ll love Sabrett Skinless Beef Frankfurters. These hot dogs are the real deal. Even if you’re not from NYC, you should find out first-hand why the Big Apple can’t get enough of their street hot dogs,” adds Mashed.
Applegate Farms Uncured Beef Franks appeared in the top ten across more than half of the sites we visited. Also, the brand took one of the top spots, making it undeniable on our list. “The Applegate beef hot dog took our top spot for one reason: It’s the dog every one of our tasters wanted at a cookout. The texture is spot on, light but not too light. As for flavor, it’s a touch sweet and a little bit smoky,” writes Delish.
Applegate Farms is also organic and uses grass-fed beef, giving it the edge over similar competitors. “While Applegate’s offering technically tied with Ball Park and Oscar Mayer in terms of flavor, this frank had 60-70 fewer calories and 6 fewer grams of fat than the other hot dogs. It also consisted of grass-fed beef and was free of added sugar,” explains Eat This, Not That.
We won’t dare to say that any hot dog is “good” for you, but we will say some are not as bad for your health as others. “The garlic, onion, and paprika come through. The flavors were clean and not overly beefy,” explains Uproxx. “If this is the hot dog impulse buy you grab at Whole Foods, you’re in pretty good shape.”
This classic brand’s rendition of Angus beef hot dogs garnered enough love from the critics to not be denied. Ball Park Angus Beef Franks was also voted as the juiciest hot dog option on one of the sites and their flavor surprised several of the others.
“Here are my stream of consciousness tasting notes: this is way better than it deserves to be the skin is awesome the pop is awesome for a brand that really markets itself like a hot dog this is actually relatively close to the German frankfurter,” raves Uproxx. “Of the mainstream brands, this is my favorite. It’s a perfect dog for a bun and some toppings because the beef flavor notes will hold up to all of that — sauerkraut, onions, whatever — without getting lost.”
According to the critics, Ball Park stole the show when it comes to Angus beef hot dogs in general. “What makes this Angus beef hot dog pop is, of course, the Angus beef, which famously has extra fat compared to other types of beef. The result? A hot dog that’s a little smoky, a little buttery,” writes Delish.
“We’re talking ridiculously juicy franks, a distinct outer crust and gorgeous char marks that’ll make you look like a total grill master. Made with uncured Angus beef, the dogs are heavily on the smoky, ham-like side of the flavor spectrum. Their texture is soft and consistent, versus other dogs that look more uneven and like ground meat on the inside,” adds Pure Wow.
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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. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.