Ketchup Marinade Is The Secret To Crackly Hot Dog Bliss

Nothing says a cookout in the backyard like juicy and delicious grilled hot dogs, especially when nestled in between two halves of a bun. As with many great foods in the world, hot dogs have grown into a global phenomenon, with many countries boasting their own unique creations. There are so many awesome ways hot dogs are made around the world, so there is a hot dog variation for just about everyone — from Coney-style (chili, onions, and shredded cheddar) to those found in Denmark with pickle chips, remoulade, ketchup, mustard, and fried and chopped onions.

But let's get back to the old-fashioned grilled hot dog. With a combination of snappy natural casing and juicy meat, the hot dog is pretty delicious on its own. However, with some creativity and some simple ingredients, there are always methods to boost its flavor to the next level, and one of those is to coat the sausage with a quick ketchup marinade. Served grilled and paired with mustard dressing in a bun, it is simply crackly hot dog heaven.

Ketchup marinade for a crispy hot dog

The marinade is simple and can be made with common ingredients already in your kitchen. In a bowl, mix together ketchup, mustard of choice, soy sauce, minced garlic, and vegetable oil. Pour the mixture onto a wide plate. Run a skewer through each hot dog lengthwise, and using a sharp knife, score each hot dog diagonally four times on each side without cutting all the way through.

Using the skewer as a handle, roll the hot dog in the marinade a couple of times until it is well coated. Grill these hot dogs until they are nicely charred and the slices open up. The sugars in the ketchup and soy sauce will caramelize during the grilling process, creating a sweet, savory, and garlicky crust that crackles as you bite into them. Serve them as-is on a skewer or on a toasted bun of your choice, and top them with some miso-spiked cole slaw for an Asian twist to this all-American treat.

One hot dog, endless possibilities

Once the hot dog is ready, the question is what to eat it with, and when it comes to hot dog toppings, the possibilities are truly endless. Aside from the traditional ketchup, mustard, onions, and relish, there are so many possible combinations that it would be impossible to try them all in a lifetime. You can add mashed avocado and mayonnaise for a creamy texture to contrast with the snappy texture of the sausage, or top it with shredded cheese and soft grilled onions. Add some spice with chopped jalapeno, or sprinkle sweet corn, cheese, and shoestring potato sticks for some Brazilian flair.

Balance out your meal with a cold and refreshing salad, from which there are many to choose. Instead of another green salad left wilting as the dogs cook, try a chopped egg and potato salad with a genius hack – a wire cooling rack — for a quick and easy side. For something that is more vegetable-forward, you might want to try a chopped salad that is peppered with freshly grilled asparagus and eggplant and then dressed in a balsamic glaze.