Hot dogs are a summer favorite throughout the country. Whether grilling out by the pool, camping, or spending the weekend at the beach, nothing hits the spot quite like homemade hot dogs. At the same time, cooking hot dogs is sometimes frowned upon as uninteresting, or food for kids. That’s where fancy hot dogs come to the rescue. Even though the classic combination of ketchup, mustard, and relish has withstood the test of time, here’s a hot dog toppings list that will turn even the most mundane picnic spread into a summer feast. Add these hot dog toppings to your shopping list, and everyone around will go crazy for more.
The Thai pepper, also known as the bird’s eye chili, is a small, exceedingly hot pepper. Even though they pack a super spicy punch, they are balanced with fruity sweetness, which makes them perfect in hot dog recipes. These peppers turn red when fully ripe, but are commonly eaten while still green. Finely chopped and sprinkled over hot dogs with mustard and onion relish, these spicy soldiers are a natural flavor booster. If you want to go really crazy, sprinkle on some coconut as well.
Among outdoor summer food, hamburgers have always been stingy with the cheese. Although we’re still talking about meat tucked inside bread, party goers frequently forget about adding cheese to their hot dogs. Picnic spreads are known for their sizable stacks of American cheese slices, but for fancy hot dogs, you need fancy cheese. Soft cheeses, like Gouda and Havarti are excellent choices, and fit well with other more traditional hot dog toppings. Stronger flavors, like Danish blue cheese and Stilton, are even better, and should be paired with a steak or barbecue sauce. Keep these cheeses in the cooler, though, because the hot summer heat will make these these gourmet hot dogs extra potent.
A staple ingredient in the Southwest, chipotle peppers are really just smoked, dried jalapeños, but add a super sweet smoky flavor. This is one of the best hot dog topping ideas for camping, because you can buy chipotle peppers dried, and keep them in a small, easy to seal plastic bag. To prepare, soak the dried peppers in water for a few minutes, and scrape the seeds out before you chop them up. You can also opt for chipotle peppers in adobo, which doesn’t require soaking or chopping. Chipotles in adobo make an awesome hot dog chili sauce, and make the perfect pair with our next topping…
Meat and fried eggs can be found in every roadside diner, and fried eggs will turn your hot dogs into top-notch comfort food. Easy to make and available anywhere, eggs also look great heaped on top of all your other favorite hot dog toppings. Fried eggs even make it okay to eat hot dogs for breakfast, as if permission was needed.
Chili Spiced Dried Mango
Another great sweet and spicy recipe for hot dogs comes courtesy of the bulk foods section of the supermarket. These slices of dried mango come seasoned with paprika, salt, chili powder, and a hint of cayenne. The sweet mango flavor is perfect with a grilled hot dog, and the chili spices give it an extra kick. Try a squirt of fresh lime juice on top as a finishing touch.
Another breakfast inspired hot dog topping, maple syrup offers an earthy, unmistakable sweetness that soaks right into the bun. Best poured on while the hot dog is still piping hot from the grill, this is the perfect condiment for bacon wrapped hot dogs, or even sausage links. Keep it to a light drizzle, though, to avoid soggy buns.
Nothing packs a whollup of bright flavor like fresh herbs. Cilantro, chives, basil, and tarragon all go well with dressings like mustard or mayonnaise, and even give your hot dogs a nice crunch. Chopped green onions can be a good alternative to the white, diced variety. Avoid heartier herbs like rosemary or fennel, because then can be too overwhelming when eaten raw.
A staple in the salad bowl, radishes will add a peppery crunch to your hot dog recipes. They are easy to chop ahead of time, and firm enough to withstand travel to the beach or tailgating site. The fresh flavor of radishes works well with ranch dressing, and give you picnic spread a little extra color, as well.
Fruit salsas can be a great addition to any dish, and pineapple salsa is one of the best hot dog topping ideas. Pineapple salsa has a tropical citrus flavor, but typically features other great tastes, like cumin and garlic. Available in most grocery stores and ready for spooning, it’s a beautiful shortcut to getting the best hot dogs around.
Salt & Vinegar Chips
Elementary school kids know that the best way to eat a brown bag lunch is to slide the potato chips right between the ham and white bread. Take this lunchtime recipe a step further, and crumble salt and vinegar chips onto your hot dog. The tangy saltiness and fried crunch are perfect for poolside dining, and will make you feel like a kid at recess. Except being a grown-up kid means you get to wash it down with a nice cold beer.
Garlic can be added to just about anything, and hot dogs are no exception. Pickled garlic is great because it’s milder than fresh garlic, but still offers bold flavor. If you’re taking it with you to the campsite, mince the garlic before you leave home, and add it back to the pickling juices. This is a great hot dog topping idea for more traditional folks, and combines perfectly with spicy peppers or sweet relish.
A secret ingredient in Italian and French kitchens for generations, capers have recently seen a surge in popularity. They are actually pickled flower buds, and will give your hot dogs a salty, tangy zing. Pair capers with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce for a Mediterranean-inspired delight.
If you are a fan of food stuffed food, such as calzones and chicken cordon bleu, then this will be one of your go-to hot dog ideas. Ravioli are kind of like little sandwiches themselves, so it makes sense. Just tuck as many pieces of cooked ravioli as you can into your next hot dog. If you’re feeling messy, top the whole thing off with marinara sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Eat it fast, or use a toasted bun to avoid getting most of it in your lap instead of your mouth. That would be a shame.