How to Cook Hot Dogs: 8 Methods for Superior Sausages

Updated: Jan. 31, 2024

Should you fire up the grill? Boil a pot of water? What about the air fryer? We share how to cook hot dogs eight ways.

Whether it’s for a backyard barbecue, a kid’s birthday party or a summer potluck, hot dogs are always a good fit. These sausages are the perfect canvas for all sorts of toppings and are easy to make for a crowd.

However, before you prep for your get-together or weekly meal plan, you might want to learn how to cook hot dogs the right way—the right way being the method that suits your lifestyle best.

How to Grill Hot Dogs

Six hot dogs cooking on a gas-fired barbeque grill. Flames licking the bottoms of the polish dogs are visible below the grill's gratesMatt Carey/Getty Images

“This technique is for our dads and grill masters out there,” says Shannon Norris in the Taste of Home Test Kitchen. But she says that learning how to cook hot dogs on the grill is a method anyone can master.

To grill hot dogs, place them on the grill over medium heat. Turn them occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes. You’ll get that flame-roasted flavor and slight char. Grilled links are a great foundation for these regional hot dog toppings.

How to Cook Hot Dogs Over a Campfire

Hotdogs Cooking on the CampfireLauriPatterson/Getty Images

Nothing says summer like a hot dog cooked over a fire. To make hot dogs this way, fit the sausage onto a skewer and cook it over the flame for about 5 minutes. For best results, don’t stick the hot dog directly into the fire, rather hover it above.

The end result will be slightly charred. And if the hot dogs split, don’t worry! They’ll still have that delightful snap.

How to Air Fry Hot Dogs

Hotdogs in an airfryerAJ Paulsen/Getty Images

Yep, you can add hot dogs to the list of foods you can air fry! Learning how to cook hot dogs in the air fryer is so simple: Toss them into the basket and air fry for 5 minutes at 400ºF. The heat may cause the franks to split. If you want to control where the sausages break, make a few shallow cuts diagonally across one side of the hot dog.

The method delivers a crispy exterior without having to fire up the grill.

How to Microwave Hot Dogs

heating hotdog in microwave ovenno_limit_pictures/Getty Images

When you’re really tight on time, turn to the microwave. Wrap the sausages in a damp paper towel and microwave in 30-second increments. A single frank will take 30 to 60 seconds. You may need to add time when heating additional hot dogs.

This isn’t necessarily the best way to make big batches of sausages or the most delicious method, but it’s fast and great when your stomach (or your kiddo’s) is really rumbling.

How to Make Hot Dogs on the Stove

hot dogs in frying pan over dark background isolated. Cooking breakfast hot dogs.Gingagi/Getty Images

You can learn how to cook hot dogs right on the stovetop if you like. “For optimal caramelization, split the hot dog in half,” says Shannon. Then brown the links in butter in a skillet over medium heat. It should take about 5 minutes until they’re crispy.

“This is my favorite way to make hot dogs because you get all that caramelized buttery flavor with your dogs and it is easy to just make a couple of them quickly,” Shannon says.

How to Bake Hot Dogs

Cooking hotdogs in the oven. Alekkoval/Getty Images

When rain foils your plans to grill, fire up the oven. Place hot dogs on a sheet pan and bake at 425º for 10 to 15 minutes. For even browning, turn them once or twice during baking.

Shannon explains that the sausages will shrivel slightly with this method, but this gives the hot dogs a nice, firm texture. “Plus, making hot dogs this way is super simple for a crowd,” she says.

How to Boil Hot Dogs

hotdogs are boiled in a pan in boiling water, close-up shotkosmos111/Getty Images

“This technique is weeknight simple,” says Shannon. To boil hot dogs, bring a pan of water up to a boil. Then add the hot dogs and simmer for 4 to 6 minutes.

If you want to add more flavor, you can boil the hot dogs in beer, much the way you would with bratwurst. For this technique, no need to pop for a pricey six-pack. A good, cheap beer is just what you’ll need.

Shannon recommends this method for nights when you need dinner on the table fast. It’s also a good way to make hot dogs for kids that are fussy about the char franks can get when grilled or roasted on the fire.

How to Make Hot Dogs in a Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker cooking hotdogspowerofforever/Getty Images

To make hot dogs in a slow cooker, add the sausages to the crock and add a cup of water. Cover and cook on low for two hours. After they’re finished cooking, switch the slow cooker to the warm setting so the franks don’t split.

This method works great for when you want a hands-off cooking method or are cooking for a lot of guests.

So What’s the Best Way to Cook Hot Dogs?

Just like choosing the best hot dog brand, choosing how to cook hot dogs is personal. However, our Test Kitchen does have a few recommendations after sampling sausages made with each method above.

For the best flavor and texture, Shannon says to opt for the grill, stovetop or campfire. These methods help to caramelize the outside of the sausage and give it great texture and color.

If you want to know how to cook hot dogs the easiest way, Shannon recommends the oven, air fryer or slow cooker. Each of these methods is no-fuss.

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