The Best Hot Dogs for Summer BBQs, According to Our Pro Grillers

Fire up the grill! Our Test Kitchen found the best hot dogs for your next cookout.

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Tkp Hot Dogs Test
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On the Hunt for the Best Hot Dogs

When summer comes around, we’re all looking for the best hot dogs to grill in the backyard or even roast over the campfire. When you’re enjoying some of the best parts of the season, you don’t want to be serving up lackluster sausages.

That’s why our Test Kitchen set out to find the best hot dogs. Our team of experienced culinary pros wanted to find the top dogs for topping with mustard, onions and plenty of relish.

How Our Test Kitchen Sampled Hot Dogs

For this taste test, our team snagged nine of the most popular brands of hot dogs. Like all our other taste tests, these hot dogs were sampled blindly to avoid any biases. Each brand was judged according to these three criteria:

  • Appearance: Any food we try should look appetizing. While a hot dog can’t compete appearance-wise with something like a golden brown pancake or a lush scoop of ice cream, that doesn’t mean that it can’t look good enough to toss on the grill.
  • Texture: Hot dogs, like other sausages, are made from ground meat—be it pork or beef. Good hot dogs should have a pleasant texture—not too coarse or mushy. Hot dogs with natural casing will also have a pleasant snap.
  • Flavor: Hot dogs should have a savory flavor with hints of salt, spice and even smoke.

After one major cookout, our team chose their Test Kitchen-Preferred brands.

Hebrew National Hot Dogs
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Best People-Pleasing Hot Dogs

Hebrew National Beef Franks

If you’re looking to pick up a package or two of hot dogs to satisfy everyone at your backyard barbecue, snag Hebrew National Beef Franks.

These hot dogs are beef-forward in flavor with a hint of smoke. The all-beef filling gives these dogs a nice depth of flavor; it also provides the right canvas for piling on the toppings like chili and salsa. You can get more inspiration with our best hot dog recipes.

Texture-wise, these hot dogs fit the bill. The casing on the outside is thin but still grills up nicely for a subtle snap. According to Catherine Ward in the Test Kitchen, these sausages would appeal to kids and adults alike and  “are ideal for a picnic or cookout.”

Also worth noting: These hot dogs are the perfect size for filling a regular sausage bun, which is a major win! No one likes nestling a hot dog in a bun only to find an inch of unfilled bread on either side.

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Rastellis Wagyu Hot Dogs
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Best Jumbo Hot Dog

Rastelli’s Wagyu Hot Dogs

When you’re hungry after a long afternoon at the beach or running around the park, skimpy hot dogs won’t cut it. That’s where Rastelli’s Wagyu Hot Dogs come in; these jumbo hot dogs were larger than any other brand we sampled.

These sausages are made with domestic Wagyu beef, a type of beef that’s a bit richer than what you’d normally pick up at the butcher. This beef gives these dogs a deeper red color and a stronger umami flavor.

The beef here is complemented by a touch of smoke, black pepper and salt—a combo that tastes natural and less processed per our Test Kitchen’s Sarah Tramonte.

The highest praise of all, though, comes from Catherine in the Test Kitchen: “These jumbo dogs are butcher shop worthy.”

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Nathans Hot Dogs
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Best Ballpark-Style Hot Dog

Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks

For a hot dog that makes you feel like you’re taking in a game at the park, our Test Kitchen recommends Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks.

Sampling these dogs, our Test Kitchen had visions of sitting in the bleachers and catching a game—peanuts and Cracker Jack optional but always encouraged.

Nathan’s hot dogs are exactly what you’d expect visually from a hot dog. Flavor-wise these sausages have a nice beef flavor with plenty of salt and just a whisper of smoke. The texture of these hot dogs is a little softer, but that’s part of the appeal of this baseball park-syle snack.

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Dietz And Watson Hot Dogs
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Hot Dogs with the Best Snap

Dietz & Watson Deli Beef Franks

Texture plays a key role in any sausage, including hot dogs. Taking a bite into that bun, you want that satisfying snap—and you’ll get it with Dietz & Watson Deli Beef Franks.

Thanks to the natural casing, these franks grill up beautifully and give that snap we all enjoy. In fact, the snap was mentioned in every single one of our Test Kitchen pro’s reviews.

Beyond the top-notch texture, these hot dogs had an artisanal feel to them—something akin to sausages made at your local butcher shop, according to Shannon Norris in the Test Kitchen. The beef inside has a nice flavor with touches of pepper, celery and sweet wood smoke.

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Check Out More Test Kitchen-Preferred Products

Our Test Kitchen is constantly testing food, kitchen gadgets and cleaning gear looking for brands that deserve the right to be called Test Kitchen-Preferred.

If you want to fill your pantry and fridge with the best products, check out these tests:

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.