How To Cook Hot Dogs (And Their Buns) In The Air Fryer

Whether you agree or disagree that a hot dog is a sandwich, there's no denying one fact about the ballpark and barbecue favorite: It's one of America's favorite foods. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day every year, a period considered "peak hot dog season," Americans eat an estimated 7 billion of them, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. And with different styles of hot dogs to enjoy around the world, from the German bratwurst to the Detroit Coney, the appeal even extends across the globe. But, while the history of the dish is hotly contested, so, too, is the best cooking method.

From boiling and sautéeing to grilling, poaching, and even microwaving, most people have a preferred technique that they swear is the best way to cook hot dogs. (Or, technically, to "reheat" rather than cook, since many store-bought hot dogs are technically already cooked.) But, have you considered air frying? It turns out that not only can you use your air fryer to cook hot dogs, but you can also use it to crisp the buns nicely, too.

How to make air fryer hot dogs

One of the benefits of cooking hot dogs in an air fryer is the speed in which they'll be done — there's no need to fire up the barbecue or wait for the grill to warm up for this method. In just a few minutes, the air fryer can produce perfectly cooked hot dogs that are crispy on the outside and juicy inside.

To start, set and preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The air fryer can cook up to four hot dogs. To do so, place four buns in a single layer in the basket of your air fryer, and cook them for two minutes until they're crisp. Then remove the buns, put them on a plate, and place four hot dogs in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook them for three minutes, before serving them in the toasted buns.

When ready, top the hot dogs with any condiments or relishes you like before serving — though, if you want to do things properly, it's worth noting that there is an etiquette for hot dog toppings, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Ketchup is a no-no for adults, as they say, though mustard, relish, onions, cheese, and chili are all acceptable.

Should you cut hot dogs before cooking?

Some people swear by scoring, butterflying, or spiralizing hot dogs before cooking or air frying them, but is this step necessary, and does it affect the end result? Basically, it comes down to whether you prioritize juiciness or crispiness.

For a juicy hot dog, some chefs believe it's better not to slice it at all before cooking, as slicing means that some of the flavorful liquid will be lost during the cooking process. This also means turning hot dogs with tongs rather than a fork while they're cooking, so as not to pierce them and lose any juices. Alternatively, some believe that lightly scoring hot dogs helps them to cook more evenly, while splitting them lengthwise (or butterflying) gives you a consistent char as well as a greater surface area to fill with sauces or toppings.

Spiralizing, meanwhile, produces a result that's more delicious still, according to some. The technique involves inserting a skewer down the hot dog, and holding a knife at an angle while turning the sausage to create a spiral cut all the way down, like a corkscrew. Fans say that spiralizing maintains both juiciness and a good char, while critics believe it causes the hot dog to dry out more, and makes it easier to overcook. Either way, it certainly makes for a visually appealing hot dog, and it's not surprising to see its popularity on foodie TikTok. In the end, how you cook and eat your hot dogs is all about personal preference.