The Fruit Topping That Makes Colombian Hot Dogs Unique

Forget American classics — Colombian hot dogs hit it out of the park in both flavor and fun. From the iconic street carts of New York City to the ballpark specialties of Chicago to the late-night vendors in Los Angeles, the humble hot dog can shapeshift in flavor, size, and toppings depending on which region it hails from.

Much like their favorite sports team, most people have a hot dog bias. Preference for toppings varies, but the generous maximalist approach of Colombian-style hot dogs makes them the kind of meal foodies fantasize about. While there are a few variations on the Colombian-style dog, most street carts prepare it overflowing with delicious toppings like shoestring fries (papas fosforinas), coleslaw, and a pink sauce (salsa rosada) of mayo and ketchup. In the U.S., all of these flavors are commonly paired with hot dogs as either a side dish or a general condiment.

So what makes the Colombian hot dog so unique (and delicious)? A generous slathering of pineapple sauce! Paired with a soft white bun and perhaps a side of fried green plantains, the addition of this unexpected fruity twist adds a sharp bite of sweetness that harmonizes perfectly with all the salty, fatty goodness of the hotdog.

Pineapples (and pineapple sauce) are popular in Colombia

Hot dogs are at the top of the (fast food) pyramid when it comes to classic American grub. But they are also a popular street food in many other countries — including Colombia and Puerto Rico (also topped with shoestring fries). 

Every country that loves hot dogs has its own pizazz, but the most celebrated part of the Colombian-style hot dog is definitely the pineapple sauce that brightens and refines the whole mix of flavors, giving the dish a tropical flair that makes it stand out from classic American styles. Recipes vary for the pineapple sauce itself. Some include a bit of cinnamon and a dash of vinegar for a more acidic touch while others recommend habanero peppers for a touch of spice.

What makes pineapple a special ingredient unique to a Colombian-style hot dog? Pineapples are a local treasure, native to South America and the Caribbean, and can be found around the Amazonian rainforest. One town, Lebrija, is considered the Pineapple Capital of Colombia and holds an annual International Pineapple Pageant.

Being surrounded by this golden fruit has inspired Colombians to include it in sweet dishes like the refreshing, iced cholado (shaved ice topped with fruit, juice, and sometimes condensed milk) or flan. Savory Colombian street food, like the Colombian burger, also embraces the sweet-tart flavor of pineapple sauce.

Traditional sides and toppings with Colombian-style hot dogs

Many of the toppings and condiments on a Colombian-style hot dog are classic parts of the country's cuisine. Most Colombian-style hot dogs will include a garlicky mayo reminiscent of a popular food accompaniment called salsa de ajo. They also come topped with the aforementioned potato sticks (papas fosforinas), either the handmade or bagged version. These crispy shoestring potatoes add a crunchy texture that complements the creamy coleslaw and salsa rosada, a sensory heaven for the taste buds. If you want to get fancy with it, some vendors will even top these hot dogs with another interesting ingredient — quail eggs!

Beyond the more unique and regional flavors of pineapple sauce and quail eggs, other popular toppings on Colombian hot dogs include tried-and-true additions like cheese and bacon. Light summery side dishes like potato salad or this Colombian orange and scallion salad called Chuyaco can add a refreshing touch. Another popular side dish is patacones — twice-fried green plantains. If you do decide to make a Colombian-style hot dog at home, your best bet is to taste test different sauce styles, toppings, and sides to decide what you prefer — just make sure you learn this five-step pineapple cutting hack from Ree Drummond first.