How To Toast Hot Dog Buns Without Jamming Them In The Toaster

A hot dog bun straight out of the bag? Sad, cold, pedestrian. A warm and toasty hot dog bun? Delightful, amazing, Michelin-star worthy. If you are cooking outdoors, it is easy to throw the buns on the grill for about a minute. However, just because you're making hot dogs indoors doesn't mean you should skip toasting entirely.

There are two types of buns — split-top and side-sliced — and the style you prefer dictates how you should toast it. New England hot dog buns are split at the top and are what you'd usually think of when you picture a lobster roll. They are cut vertically along the middle of the rounded top, but the slit does not go all the way through the bun. The side-sliced variety — like for a ballpark frank — separates the bun almost completely in half along the equator, dividing the top from the bottom.

While a standard toaster may seem like an obvious choice for a side-sliced bun, the shape does not lend itself well to using it. Chances are, you will end up with an unevenly toasted, overly browned, flattened thing. Instead, gently open the bun like a book, being careful not to disconnect the two halves along the spine. Spread on a little softened butter, mayonnaise, or neutral oil, and lay it face down in a grill pan or skillet over medium-low heat. It should just take about two minutes. Use a non-stick pan if you prefer to toast them dry.

How to toast split-top hot dog buns

Since split-top buns do not fold open and instead create a sort of long pocket, you cannot toast them in the same way as the side-sliced ones. These need to be kept whole. The focus here is on warming them through and getting them slightly crisp without crossing into hard and crunchy territory.

The best way to do this is in a standard or toaster oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Give the buns a spritz of melted butter or oil if you wish, and then place them on a sheet tray. You can also toast side-sliced buns in the oven. Just place them with the cut side facing up. Bake for about five minutes or until just crisp. You can use the same method to cook hot dog buns in the air fryer, but doing so will probably only take about three minutes.

Load them up with franks and all your favorite main character energy hot dog toppings. Bread does tend to harden up as it cools, so if you are trying to warm them ahead of time, wrap the heated buns in a tea towel or aluminum foil. This will keep them soft for up to an hour, but they will not be as crisp as when they first come out of the oven. Whichever method you decide to use, don't skip it! Toasting the bun definitely kicks even a simple hot dog up a notch.