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Food & Recipes

How to Grill Hot Dogs — Chef’s Secret Makes ‘Em Crispy + Juicy for Your Memorial Day BBQ

Spiral-cutting allows the wieners to cook up tender — and creates a fun, eye-catching shape!

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Hot dogs are a crowd-favorite during Memorial Day (and grilling season as whole), but overcooking can cause them to burn and dry out. The good news: Avoiding burnt hot dogs is as simple as cutting them in a spiral pattern before they hit the grill. This surprise trick cooks the dogs evenly so you’ll end up with crispy and juicy wieners. Plus, it helps hold in your favorite condiments for a flavorful hot dog with each bite. Keep reading to learn more on why this hack works and a delicious hot dog recipe to use it for!

What are hot dogs?

Hot dogs are a type of sausage that consists of a seasoned ground meat mixture filled in a casing. While hot dogs can vary in thickness, they’re usually skinner than other sausages like bratwurst and kielbasa. Also, grilling hot dogs correctly ensures the inside is moist while the casing crisps up nicely.

What causes hot dogs to burn and dry out

Although hot dogs don’t take long to heat up, getting the outside super brown may lead to them overcooking on the grill. This not only causes the hot dogs to lose their moisture, but the flavor may be slightly bitter if it’s charred. Luckily, you don’t have to serve dry, burnt hot dogs to guests thanks to a simple hack.

Chef’s trick for how to grill crispy hot dogs

If you want crispy and tender hot dogs, try giving them a spiral-cut pattern. It sounds odd, but it creates more surface area so that the heat can get to every part of it. More heat exposure allows for more crispy bits on the casing and a juicy interior. The little nooks in the spiral also ensure that chunky toppings like relish and grilled onions don’t slide off the hot dog.

Below, Blake Smith, former video producer of Chowhound, shares three easy steps for creating a spiral-cut hot dog in 30 seconds.

  1. Insert a wooden skewer into the hot dog vertically, similar to a corn dog. (Note: Don’t worry if you accidentally pierce the outer casing in the process, just start again.)
  2. Place the hot dog on a cutting board and roll it as you’re cutting with a small knife — creating the spiral pattern.
  3. Then slide the skewer out and it’s ready to go on the grill to cook in under 10 minutes.

Our test kitchen’s mouthwatering hot dog recipe

This hot dog recipe comes from our test kitchen — and cooks up nicely with the spiral-cut trick! (Also, try this hack when making this Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs recipe.)

Loaded Hot Dogs

Grilled hot dogs with relish as part of a guide on how to grill hot dogs
Bhofack2/Getty

We gave a cookout classic a fresh makeover with a choice of tangy coleslaw or refreshing cucumber-dill relish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. white vinegar 
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup thinly sliced peeled cucumber 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped dill
  • 1 Tbs. chopped chives 
  • 1 cup coleslaw mix, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. sweet relish 
  • 1 Tbs. vinaigrette 
  • 8 hot dogs, (spiral-cut, if desired)
  • 8 whole-wheat hot dog buns
  • Mustard (optional)

Directions:

  • Active: 20 mins
  • Total time: 30 mins + grill prep
  • Yield: 8 servings
  1. For cucumber-dill relish, mix 1 tsp. vinegar and sugar. Stir in cucumber, dill and chives; season with ⅛ tsp. salt and ⅛ tsp. pepper. For coleslaw, combine slaw mix, relish, vinaigrette and remaining 1 tsp. vinegar. Season with ⅛ tsp. salt and ⅛ tsp. pepper.
  2. Prepare grill for medium-high direct-heat cooking. Grill dogs, turning, 5 to 7 minutes. Grill buns cut sides down until toasted, 30 seconds; flip. Grill 30 seconds. Serve hot dogs in buns with relish or coleslaw; if desired, top with mustard.

Keep reading for more recipes to add to your grilling season spread!

How to Grill Corn on the Cob So the Kernels Are Juicy, Tender, and Perfectly Charred

How to Grill the Tastiest Brussels Sprouts

How To Grill Romaine Lettuce and Upgrade Your Summer Salads

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