Boiling Hot Dogs In Beer Vs. Water Is A Flavor Revelation

Hot dogs can be cooked (or reheated if they're pre-cooked, which store-bought versions often are) in a variety of ways, from sautéeing and grilling to poaching, slow cooking, and microwaving. It's even possible to cook hot dogs (and their buns) in the air fryer. Most people have a preferred technique, but one of the quickest methods is to simply boil the hot dogs in water.

Boiling or poaching hot dogs results in even cooking, a uniform temperature throughout, and a plump, juicy sausage, so it's easy to see why it's so popular. While the hot dogs might lack the attractive char marks and smoky flavor you get from the grill, many people actually prefer the milder taste when they've been boiled, and this method really allows the hot dog toppings and condiments to shine through. It's also an easy way to feed a crowd without having to keep a constant eye on the barbecue.

But water isn't the only liquid suitable for boiling hot dogs. To take your dogs to the next level, try cooking them in beer to really bring out the meaty flavors.

Beer beats water for flavor intensity

The quickest and simplest method of cooking hot dogs in beer is to simply add your preferred beer (something lighter, such as a lager, tends to work better than hop-heavy IPAs, which can be bitter) to a small pot, bring it to the boil, and add the hot dogs. Let it simmer for a few minutes until the hot dogs are perfectly plump, then drain them on kitchen paper, and serve in a bun with your choice of condiments.

Or try beer brats, a specialty of Wisconsin, and pair German-style bratwurst sausages with lager or pilsner, as well as sliced onions. Add the three ingredients to a cast iron skillet, put it on low heat with the lid on, and let everything gently boil until the brats are cooked, reaching a temperature of around 145 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve them in rolls with grain mustard and sauerkraut.

The traditional Austrian version of bratwurst cooked in beer, meanwhile, sees the sausages cooked in a beery broth spiked with salt, sugar, and lemon juice, thickened with cornstarch, and served with red cabbage and potato dumplings. The bratwurst themselves are also flavored with beer.

Sure, you can boil your hotdogs in water — especially nice if you want the condiments themselves to be the star of the show — but if you want the meat to take center stage and burst with mouth-watering flavor, it's better to use beer.

Use beer for the toppings and buns

It's not just the hot dog sausages that can be cooked with beer for a flavor revolution. The accompanying sauces, condiments, and even the buns themselves, can all benefit from the addition of a bit of booze.

Beer braised onions go just as well with sausages as with burgers, and give a double beer hit to hot dogs that have already been cooked in the beverage. Made by cooking sliced onions in butter until tender, and then simmering in your favorite beer, they can also be made in advance and reheated when needed. You could also make homemade beer mustard for your dogs by soaking mustard seeds in beer, adding white wine vinegar, honey, and preferred seasonings, and blending it all until smooth. Or try a beer ketchup, made with tomato paste, beer, apple cider vinegar, herbs, and spices.

Bread made with beer is an old tradition, and it can work especially well with meaty flavors such as hot dogs. The warm, fluffy rolls can even be made with as few as four ingredients — self-rising flour, beer, sugar, and butter. For added wow factor, try soft pretzel buns made with ale to house your sausages. Wash it all down with a beer, of course.