How to grill the perfect Hot Dog

If you’re anything like me (no offense) you grew up on hot dogs, that favorite of backyard grillers everywhere. Sadly, many a tube-steak that hit our plates were charred on the outside, chilly in the middle, and split and twisted in decidedly unappetizing shapes.

Not something you really want to add to you weekly meal planner…

But fear not, we’re gonna fix that!

Claims about hot dog invention are difficult to assess, as stories assert the creation of the sausage, the placing of the sausage on bread or a bun as finger food, the popularization of the existing dish, or the application of the name “hot dog” to a sausage and bun combination most commonly used with ketchup or mustard and sometimes relish.

Around 1870, on Coney Island, German immigrant Charles Feltman began selling sausages in rolls. The term “dog” has been used as a synonym for sausage since 1884 and accusations that sausage makers used dog meat date to at least 1845.     By the way, if you’re enjoying our recipes, please subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week, no charge! Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids through our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program!




According to a myth, the use of the complete phrase “hot dog” in reference to sausage was coined by the newspaper cartoonist Thomas Aloysius “TAD” Dorgan around 1900 in a cartoon recording the sale of hot dogs during a New York Giants baseball game at the Polo Grounds. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)  

Picking the perfect dog*:

Chicago Style Hot Dog is a traditionally all beef and contains no fillers.

Don’t even think of using a Hot Dog made from turkey, chicken or pork. Some all beef Hot Dogs are “Kosher”.

If you prefer a Kosher Dog, look for the Kosher symbol (K) or (U) on the packaging.

When buying your Hot Dogs, stay away from the 97% fat free choices as they are more difficult to cook and lack flavor. Another excellent choice is Red Hot Chicago brand dogs. For a real treat, try the “jumbo” sized version of your favorite brand.

BTW – If you’re a fan of the burger as well, be sure to check out our post: How to grill a Perfect Hamburger

Grilling the perfect dog:

So, how do you grill the perfect dog? Here’s a tip I learned a long time ago, while doing my time at the grill station for a national hotdog chain…

1. Allow you hotdogs to come near room temp before cooking, never, never put a frozen dog in, or over, heat.

2. Simmer (very low boil) your hot dogs in water for four minutes before placing them on the grill.

3. Grill them over a low fire just long enough to get those nice grill marks and toasty outside.

3. Once the skin starts to glisten (about 1 minute) turn the dog over and cook for an additional minute on the other side – no more!

Your hot dog is now ready to serve and it will stay hot all the way through for up to 10 minutes after serving.

Chicago Dog


Assembling the perfect dog:

Now, what to do with that perfectly grilled dog?

Well, no disrespect to my New York readers (please don’t have me whacked) but as much as I enjoy a good dirty-water hotdog, I think that the windy city has reached weiner perfection with the Chicago dog.

Create your Chicago Style Hot Dog by adding the toppings in the following order:

1. Start by placing your Hot Dog in the Bun.

2. Yellow Mustard – Squirt the mustard directly on the Dog from one end to the other.

3. Relish – Add a generous amount of sweet relish.

4. Chopped Onions – Place onions on top of the Dog.

5. Two Tomato Wedges – Place tomatoes along the crevice between the top of the bun and the Hot Dog.

6. Pickle Spear or Slice – Place pickle in the crevice between the bottom of the bun and the Hot Dog.

7. Two Sport Peppers – Place 2 sport peppers on top of your Chicago Dog.

8. Celery Salt – Sprinkle a dash of celery salt over the Dog.

The only change I make to the list above, is that I leave out the sweet relish, which I’m not a fan of.

Typically, I use a white stadium roll with a jumbo, all-beef, kosher hotdog.

I also like to use crunchy dill pickle spears on my Chicago Style Hot Dogs.

Now, go fire up that grill and celebrate National Hot Dog Day!

-Chef Perry

Home Chef Cookbooks


8 thoughts on “How to grill the perfect Hot Dog

  1. Pingback: How to grill the perfect Hot Dog | Burnin' Love BBQ

  2. I use cucumber spears instead of pickles. There was this one place in Chicago that would do this. Since I was a kid I absolutely loved this!

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