Tom Lohr has eaten a hot dog at all 30 MLB ballparks and is the author of "Gone to the Dogs: In Search of the Best Ballpark Hot Dog."
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It's summertime, and that means families from all over the nation will be firing up the grill to partake in a summer ritual: the cookout. Most of the time it is a relatively simple affair, you just toss in some charcoal, fire it up and toss on the meat. It's the choice of meat and the creativity that separates the great barbecues from the mundane.
Typical cookout fare consists of hot dogs, hamburgers and sometimes ribs or steak. The vast majority of grillers will stick with the dogs and burgers, mainly because they are affordable options. You may look forward to hosting your next cookout, but probably can't seem to get excited about it. After all, everyone knows what your hot dogs taste like; the only option they have is what condiments to put on it.
But what if you had three easy to prepare recipes for hot dogs that will catapult you reputation as a grill master from average to rockstar? If you want family and friends to be talking about your Independence Day cookout on Labor Day, then give them something to remember. Here are three hot dog options (with links to the recipes) that are not only easy to make, but will have your guests coming back for seconds.
Start With a Solid Foundation
No recipe can save a foundation that cuts corners. The two items that combine to make a hot dog's foundation are the bun and frank. Get your buns the day before at the soonest. It's best to get the ones that are made at your grocer's bakery. They are larger and taste better. They also get stale quicker, so plan ahead
The frank is just as important. There are a ton of options out there. Your grocer probably stocks at least ten different brands. My personal choice (and I have tried them all) is Hebrew National. A close second is Nathan's. Chances are your store stocks both of these as they are national brands. Both are all beef and high quality. If you can't get those, then make sure you get at least a brand that is 100% all beef. They cost more, but they are worth it.
Crab Mac and Cheese Dog
The ultimate comfort food dog. It combines two of America's favorite dishes. The crab meat adds a touch of taste and flair. Ensure that the mac and cheese is ready to go before you start grilling. And have a way to keep it warm.
The Meat Bomb
Grilling is all about the meat. It is what people expect when they smell the charcoal smoldering. So what will it be? Hot dogs? Ribs? Meatballs? Bacon? Why not all four? For the real carnivores at your party, fixing up this beast will leave them stuff and impressed.
The Pizza Dog
Someone will undoubtedly mention that they would have preferred pizza. You can't totally blame them, pizza is a picnic staple that is easy to prepare as well. You could tell them that this is a barbecue and if they want pizza that the number to the local pizza delivery shop is taped to your refrigerator. Or, you can make then a hot dog that will satisfy their craving and make you their personal hero. It' also a big hit with kids.
Don't Forget About “Them”
It happens at EVERY cookout. The vegans and vegetarians show up. They stand there in there size 1 jeans with there noses upturned explaining how they would love to partake, but there is nothing that they can eat. Gone are the days of the veggie dogs that taste like recycled plastic bags. They are still around, but there are some stellar choices now available. Field Roast makes the best of the meatless hot dogs. You should also have your skillet on the stove, greased up with vegetable oil so you can grill it there if you like. It seems some vegans/vegetarians won't even eat non meat products if they are cooked in the proximity of actual, tasty and delicious meat. The skillet will help you accommodate them. If they still aren't satisfied, kick them out.
The Best Part
The best part about offering three gourmet hot dogs at your cookout instead of steak or burgers is the cost. Hot dogs are the most economical items to offer at a cookout. That way, you can have another this summer after your amazed guests insist on you firing up your grill one last time before the leaves fall.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:
You have taken cooking hot dogs to a whole new level, Tom. I really appreciate al your great ideas for fixing these hot dogs. Thanks.
Tom Lohr (author) from Magdalena, NM on June 22, 2021:
Misbah, I have never kicked anyone out for not eating meat, but I have kicked several guests out for putting ketchup on their hot dog. That sort of culinary blasphemy is not tolerated at my events.
Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 22, 2021:
Tom, Your suggestions are interesting, and I enjoyed reading your article. I especially enjoyed your last suggestion, but I doubt I'll ever be able to do it with anyone. “Kick them out if they still aren't satisfied.” I was just curious. Have you ever done something like that? Lol. If yes, please tell us about your experience. By the way, I love eating BBQ.
God bless you.