Season Your Hot Dogs Before Grilling Them And Thank Us Later

A flavorful, savory hot dog is a blank canvas for pretty much anything you can dream up. Global cuisines have their own ways of spicing up a frank, ranging from pizza sauce to sauerkraut, but rarely do cooks consider dressing up the dogs before they hit the flames. They're meant to be in draped toppings anyway, right? Actually, if you try flavoring your franks before grilling them, they'll end up so tasty that you won't want to drown them in condiments at all.

Before rolling your hot dogs across a sizzling grill grate, take the time to rub them with herbs and spices from your pantry. A relatively bland frank can be utterly transformed by this simple step that allows you to build more flavor from the bottom up. You'll get the best results by rolling the franks in salad dressing, then in your seasoning mix. The dressing helps your add-ons stick to the meat and acts similarly to a marinade, infusing a hint of tangy acidity to cut through the richness.

The delicious combos you can try are only limited by your imagination. Use a few teaspoons of classic seasonings like paprika, salt, and pepper, or try experimenting with a funky, pungent option like everything bagel seasoning or curry powder. Your simple franks on a bun will never be boring again, and your guests will wonder what your secret is.

Delicious ways to season hot dogs

It's a safe bet to assume that any seasoning used in the hot dogs themselves will taste just as good as a coating on the outside. Garlic powder, paprika, and coriander make appearances in many brands of franks, so they're excellent starting points for a pre-grill seasoning mix. Spicy chili powder, bright celery salt, and warming nutmeg or cinnamon can also perk up the cookout dish.

Looking for something stronger? Try copying barbecue experts and grab a dry rub for your dogs. These blends, though intended for slabs of brisket and ribs, tend to have a balanced mix of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors that pair deliciously with franks. Choose a mild oil and vinegar mixture for your dressing to allow the rub to shine, or opt for Italian dressing and an herb- and allium-heavy seasoning.  A splash of Worcestershire sauce mixed in with the salad dressing is a nice touch.

Surface area is your friend when it comes to applying seasonings. Try splitting each wiener in half lengthwise, or follow a tutorial to spiralize them. Either approach allows the aromatics to penetrate past the hot dog's skin, creating more flavor throughout. You can even stuff hot peppers, cheese, and other fillings into the cuts, resulting in a brand new grilled creation.

How to add even more flavor to hot dogs

A good coating of dressing and spices isn't the only option for flavoring franks before you cook them. Allowing hot dogs to heat up in broth or beer can add more complexity to their straightforward sweet-savoriness, not to mention they come out extra juicy and tender. You could go further and poach the meat with seasonings like chopped onions and sprigs of thyme, or simply add dried herbs to the cooking liquid. If you're concerned about over-salting your dogs, look for low-sodium broths and salt-free spice blends.

Barbecue pit masters favor another potent flavor for flame-grilled meats: smoke. If you're lucky enough to own a smoker, an applewood-infused, BBQ sauce-glazed, and spice-rubbed dog is a must-try. Not every grill is set up for smoking, though. For a similar vibe, opt for rolling hot dogs in a sweet and smoky sauce in place of salad dressing, and coat them in paprika and garlic.

You could also try merging these two methods and boil your dogs in barbecue sauce before quickly caramelizing them on the grill. Since the links are already cooked, you can keep their time on the grill fast, so they don't totally scorch on the outside. You can finish by topping them off with plenty of relish, mustard, onions, and ketchup, but you might want to savor these dogs solo.