Hot Dogs

38 Brilliant New Ways to Upgrade Your Hot Dogs Epicurious June 16, 2015 By Anna Stockwell, Epicurious

By Anna Stockwell, Epicurious

38 Brilliant New Ways to Upgrade Your Hot Dogs

Picture your ideal summer meal. Chances are, you’re not thinking about a hot dog. And I totally understand. Why fantasize about tube steak topped with a squiggle of ketchup when you could be dreaming about burgers or barbecue?

But hot dogs don’t belong at your fancy hypothetical cookout. Hot dogs are for real life—for those random Thursdays when you want to fire up the grill but don’t want to stress out about smoking a rack of ribs or searing a steak just right.

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Just resist the urge to reach for the yellow mustard. Take the time (just a few minutes, I swear) to make a few special toppings. Just a little tweak here and a little twist there and you can put together an assortment of options for everyone to mix and match. Me, I’ll be topping my dog with Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Sweet Pickle Relish, and Grilled Corn—and then lining up for seconds.

Here’s how to make the best hot dog toppings happen:


Buy classic sauces. Stir in a couple extras. Done.

Old Bay Mayo: Stir 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning into ½ cup mayonnaise; adjust to taste.

Harissa Ketchup: Stir 1 tsp. harissa paste into ½ cup ketchup; adjust to taste.

Maple Mustard: Stir ¼ cup maple syrup into ¼ cup Dijon mustard; adjust to taste.

Chipotle BBQ Sauce: De-seed and mince 1 canned chipotle in adobo, stir into ½ cup barbecue sauce; adjust to taste.


Because if you’re grilling hot dogs, why not add some vegetables to the grill to serve on top?

Onions: Slice 2 red or yellow (or a mix of both) medium onions into thick rounds and grill until charred and soft.

Peppers: Quarter 2 peppers (a mix of bell and/or poblano) and remove seeds. Grill until charred and softened, then thinly slice.

Corn: Grill 2 husked ears of corn until charred, then slice kernels off.

Tomatoes: Thread 1 pint cherry tomatoes on skewers (or use a grill basket) and grill until charred and softened.

Hot Dogs


Make your own quick pickles—or just jazz up the store-bought kind.

Pickled Carrots: Shave 2 medium carrots into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler and combine with ½ cup white wine vinegar, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. toasted cumin seeds in a medium bowl. Let sit at least 10 minutes and strain before serving.

Pickled Cabbage: Place 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage in a large heatproof container or bowl. Toast 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds in a small pot over medium heat, then add 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and 1 Tbsp. salt and bring to a boil. Pour over cabbage and let sit at least 10 minutes. Strain before serving.

Dill Pickle Relish: Combine 1 cup diced bread and butter pickles and ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh dill.

Scallion Kimchi: Combine ½ cup thinly sliced kimchi and 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions.

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Of course, you can mix and match these toppings any way you like. But here are the combos we couldn’t stop eating in the Epi Test Kitchen.

“The German”: For a bratwurst-inspired dog, layer onMaple Mustard, Pickled Cabbage, and Grilled Onions.

“The Sweet + Smoky”: For a dog that hits all the spicy sweet and smoky spots of your favorite backyard barbecue, layer on Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Sweet Dill Pickle Relish, andGrilled Corn.

“The Garden Dog”: Old Bay Mayo provides a creamy base for tart Pickled Carrots and smoky Grilled Peppers.

“The Fire Starter”: If spice and brine are your beats, mix together Harissa Ketchup,Scallion Kimchi, and Grilled Peppers.

“The Southern Belle”: For a combo that’s even better than your favorite summer succotash, top your dog with Old Bay Mayo, Grilled Tomatoes, and Grilled Corn.



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