There are two types of people in the world: Those who prefer burgers and those who prefer hot dogs—and the divide becomes clear at any cookout.
Personally, I’m firmly in the hot dog camp. From the satisfying snap when you bite in to the pillowy bun that lets you pile on practically any topping, I say hot dogs are the all-American summer meal. (After all, vendors don’t yell “Burgers! Burgers!” at ball games, right?)
At your next barbecue, you’ll want to make sure the best hot dogs are plated up next to loaded juicy burgers like these on the buffet. To find out which brand is best, I got together with some fellow hot dog aficionados for a blind taste test. We tried six popular brands of store-bought hot dogs and found a few winners.
Taste of Home
Honorable Mention: Great Value Uncured Beef Franks
The tasting panel deemed Walmart’s store brand as the “standard” hot dog. Though it was saltier than our other top picks, we agreed that we’d be happy to eat this at a cookout. If you’re hosting a larger event, Great Value’s beef franks are a budget-friendly choice (they’re as much as $1 cheaper than competitor brands!). Here are a few other affordable dinner ideas that are big on taste.
$2.74 for an 8-pack; available exclusively at Walmart.
Runner-Up: Hebrew National Beef Franks
Tasters agreed that this dog had the most unique flavor of the bunch, and with good reason. We discovered that Hebrew National packs its franks with garlic powder and paprika—two of the ten essential spices that every cook should own. The panel also found that these franks were firm and substantial, perfect for feeding even the most famished cornhole winner.
Price varies for a 6-pack; available at grocers nationwide.
Best in Show: Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks
Host of the annual 4th of July hot dog eating contest, this brand took the title of champion. Our panel unanimously agreed that Nathan’s Famous combined all of the best qualities into a winning hot dog. It tasted flavorful—seasoned but not salty—and had a gentle snap with every bite. Nathan’s Famous has had plenty of time to perfect the recipe: The company has been serving up its signature franks for well over a century (kind of like these other legacy brands you need to know about).
$3.67 for an 8-pack; available at grocers nationwide.
The Bottom Line
If you’re at the store and need to choose the best hot dog for your outdoor cookout, any of these finalists would make a great choice. However, Nathan’s Famous may just win over the hamburger enthusiasts in your group.
The Best Brands for Your Cookout
Now that you know the very best hot dogs for your outdoor bash, we bet you’ll like to know the brands that won in our other taste tests, too. Check out our reviews:
- We Tried 10 Brands and Found the Best Queso Dip
- We Found the Best Tortilla Chips for Dips, Salsas and More
- We Settled the Cola Debate—Find Out Which Brand Tastes Best
What to Make Next
While it’s easy to douse hot dogs in the standard squiggles of ketchup and mustard, here are a few more ways to make your franks the talk of the party:
- DIY dogs: Set up a topping bar for guests to customize their dog. To keep organized, separate pre-prepped condiments using a muffin tin. Check our list of unexpected hot dog toppings for ideas. (Though my inner Chicagoan must tell you to hold the ketchup.)
- Wrap ’em up: Make meal-sized pigs-in-blankets with our Hot Dog Roll-Ups recipe. Refrigerated crescent rolls help this four-ingredient dish come together in a snap.
- Pile on the chili: Put a pound of ground beef to work in this recipe for loaded Chili Coney Dogs. (Don’t skip the sprinkle of onions on top!)
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