What Makes Brazilian Hot Dogs Taste Different?

Enjoying a hot dog is a universal experience, with most countries having a regional version of the hot dog featuring local toppings and cooking techniques. Brazil is no exception, with its special variety being known as cachorro quente, which is Portuguese for hot dog.

Although the origins of Brazilian hot dogs are hazy at best, they are regularly credited to American cultural influence during the 20th century. The popular story is that they originated in the city of São Paulo, an area rich in immigrants, where they quickly became a staple among the street food vendors. Today, you'll find Brazilian hot dogs everywhere, from birthdays and block parties to major holiday celebrations for Carnival or New Year's Eve. They're also a popular late-night bite, with many bar districts featuring carts that serve cachorro quente into the wee morning hours.

What makes the Brazilian version so different from the American classic? Cachorro quente features a hot dog cooked in tomato sauce (sometimes with ground beef), then piled with a world of flavorful ingredients. The most consistently served are crunchy potato sticks (​​batata palha), shredded parmesan cheese, and the trio of mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. But depending on the region you're in, there are many more options. Choices include mashed potatoes, corn, peas, tomato vinaigrette, pico de gallo, shredded carrots, and more. If you're hungry enough to try it all, order your Brazilian hot dog "completo-style" for all the toppings.

Tips for making better Brazilian hot dogs

There are a few tricks to making the most delicious Brazilian hot dogs. Typically, the sauce is loaded up with sauteed onions and bell peppers, but you can also make it even heartier with the addition of ground beef. This turns it into a more chili-style topping.

To ensure that your hot dogs soak up all the flavor during simmering, cut a small slit down the side of each, or slice into rings. The edges of the hot dogs will begin to curl slightly while cooking, and that's how you know they're ready to serve.

When building your Brazilian hot dog, use a sturdy bun as your base. This will be loaded up with so many toppings that a soft variety will get soggy very quickly. If you're using mashed potatoes as an add-on, spread it on the bun first. This will act as a barrier to prevent the bread from getting too wet.

Between the crunchy potato sticks and hearty dose of vegetables on top, cachorro quente is typically considered a full meal in Brazil, so there's no need to fuss with side dishes. Although a cold beverage on the side is a popular choice with hot dogs. Brazilians typically favor a glass of guaraná soda, beer, or even a cocktail featuring cachaça (a sugarcane liquor). As long as the hot dog is loaded and the drink is cold, it's sure to be a delicious meal.