If you are hosting a barbecue this summer then you will probably be grilling some hot dogs to go with it. Apart from grilled ribs and burgers, hot dogs are one of the most popular foods to grill during a summer barbecue party.
To get the best flavor out of your hot dogs, they have to be grilled with just the right amount of heat and smoke. Overcooked or burned hot dogs lose their juicy taste which makes them quite dry with a taste like ash. Undercooked hot dogs are not very crispy and smoky and feel cold and moldy inside.
Here is our guide for grilling crispy, smoky and juicy hot dogs for your barbecues, every time.
Check the Grill
Before you start with the cooking, check your grill to see how it is working. If you are using a gas grill, you want to make sure that it is in good working order and there are no blockages in the gas pipes.
Make sure that the grill is free from any remnants of grub from your last barbecue. Charred remains of grease from previous grilling get burned during cooking and generate foul odors. Not only do they ruin the taste of your food, they can also be harmful for consumption. Make sure that you get the grub removed from the grill and have it cleaned thoroughly before you light up the fire.
Once the grill has been cleaned properly make sure that you have enough propane in the tank. Keep a spare tank if you are planning to do a big barbecue. You do not want to end up with no fuel left, halfway through the barbecue. If you have a gas connection, make sure that it is secured tightly to the grill and there are no leakages.
Once the grill is set check your tongs, meat and dishes and you are good to go.
Prepare Your Hot Dogs
The key to getting well cooked hot dogs is to get them thawed properly to normal temperature before you start cooking. If you put frozen hot dogs on the grill, it can be very difficult to get them cooked on the inside without getting the surface burnt or overcooked.
You can also make four to five small slits on the hot dogs with a knife. This makes it easier to cook them on the grate and also prevents them from shriveling up.
Spray the Grill
Use a non-stick grill spray and spray a thin film on the grates. Hot dogs can stick to the grill once the iron is hot which can ruin their texture or leave them scarred. It also makes them difficult to turn and grill.
You can also spray your skewers with some of the non-stick spray.
Grilling the Hot Dogs
In order to cook the hot dogs properly, you need to preheat your grill to the right temperature. If you are using a gas grill, preheat the grates for at least 10 minutes on full power to get the required temperature.
Once the grill is well heated, turn the temperature down to medium for making regular hot dogs or turn it to medium-low heat for beef hot dogs. Regular hot dogs have higher fat content and they need more heat to cook properly compared to beef hot dogs.
People who are new to barbecuing often complain that their hot dogs get burned or taste cold and uncooked on the inside despite getting cooked to a crisp on the outside. The reason why this happens is because they cook it on a high flame.
It takes time for heat to sink inside a hot dog and cook it evenly. When grilled on a higher flame, the surface gets cooked to a crisp quickly while heat has still not penetrated inside, leaving the hot dog moldy.
One way to remedy this is to leave the hot dogs outside to properly thaw to regular temperature. You will also need to ensure that the hot dog is grilled on a medium flame that allows it to cook properly on the inside.
Cooking the hot dog on a flame too low can also cause problems. For one thing, it takes too long to cook them on a low gas flame. You also won’t get the crispy surface that only a high flame can get.
Hot dogs must be grilled on the spot. You can’t just put them on the grill and walk away. They need to be rolled over every once in a while to make sure that they get cooked properly on all sides. Generally, it takes 5 to 10 minutes to cook a hot dog, depending on the size of the sausages and how hot it is outside.
Note how the hot dog is responding to the heat. A hot dog is cooked when it starts to expand but just before it starts sputtering or spitting from the surface. When completely cooked, it will also start to split on the ends.
Charring is completely optional and based on personal preference. Some people like the crispy, slightly burnt flavor on the hot dog surface. Others prefer it to be grilled but without too many burnt marks on the sausage.
If you prefer it slightly charred then turn the heat up near the end of cooking when it looks about ready. You may have to expose it directly to the flame for a few seconds to get the surface charred.
Make sure you get them charred equally on all side before taking them off the heat and putting them on the side.
How Long Should Hot Dogs Be Cooked
Hot dogs come in three different varieties; Frankfurters, Wieners and Sausages. Each type of hot dog has slightly different composition and requires slightly different cooking techniques.
- Sausages are grounded meat wrapped inside a casing made from animal intestine or a synthetic material. Sausages have the thickest filling in all types of hot dogs unless they have been dried off. Sausages have a relatively longer cooking time and should be grilled for around 10 – 15 minutes.
- Wieners originated in Vienna and name after the city of their origin. They have a slightly smoother texture and taste. They are comparatively thinner and longer and very popular at barbecues. Wieners have a mix of beef and pork and their cooking time on the grill is around 8 – 10 minutes.
- Frankfurters or franks for short originated in the German city of Frankfurt. This type of hot dog is very thin and can vary in size from small cocktails to large, dinner sized. The hot dog is seasoned with garlic, pepper, salt, ground mustard, sugar and nutmeg. Frankfurters are generally made from pork only. They can be cooked in a matter of minutes on the grill and take about 5 – 7 minutes.
The Final Touch
You can also add a dab of melted butter (or garlic butter if you prefer) on the hot dogs just before taking them off the grill. The melted butter will give your hot dogs a richer taste.
Once the sausages are done, put the rolls on the grill and let them toast to preferred level. You can also use a pastry brush to dust the rolls with a dab of butter for flavor. Place the buns face down to grill for about one minute on a medium-low flame to get it all nice and crisp.
Tips for Grilling Perfect Hot Dogs on a Gas Grill
Grilling hot dogs on a gas grill is easy if you follow the right cooking tips. Here are some useful tips for grilling perfect hot dogs on your summer barbecue party.
- It is important to set the right temperature for your grill to enjoy the perfect and juicy hot dog. Remember to get the grill hot enough to cook the hot dogs but not so hot that you end up burning or overcooking the dogs for so long that they burst open.
- A lot of gas grills these days come with an upper rack. The rack is a good place to keep your grilled hot dogs warm until they are ready to serve.
- Remember to preheat the grill before your start and make sure that the hot dogs have been properly thawed out.
- Depending on the size of the grill and available cooking area you may be able to grill 6 – 12 hot dogs going simultaneously. It does require a bit of experience to cook a dozen hot dogs at the same time though.