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The Rule-Bending Trick for Making Hot Dogs Taste Ridiculously Good

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Close up of grilled hotdogs on grill
Credit: MCCAIG / Getty Images

I have a soft spot in my heart for hot dogs. When I was a kid in the Bronx, my parents would buy us hot dogs from a hot dog cart on the street for $1 — they were pretty much the best thing on the planet. For years and years, I thought the best way to cook a hot dog was to boil it, just like they did at a hot dog cart. (I’m now a food professional who lives outside the city and have come to understand that while there are many ways to prepare a hot dog, boiling them is pretty low in the rankings.)

Recently, I came across this video that calls for slicing a hot dog and cooking it like bacon.  I had to find out for myself if this was the worst idea ever, or if I had stumbled across the best way to cook a hot dog. Here’s how it went.

How to Make “Hot Dog Bacon”

  1. Thinly slice the hot dogs. Use a chef’s knife to cut the hot dogs into thin slices, about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick.
  2. Fry the hot dog slices. Fry the slices in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or spatula, until browned and crispy, 5 to 6 minutes.
Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

My Honest Review

I’ll say right off the top, I was suspicious of this idea at first. For me, cooking hot dogs like bacon falls into the category of “sure … but why?” Having made it myself however, I see it now. This was undeniably weird, but also undeniably tasty. Hot dogs are delicious, so slicing them up and frying them in a pan doesn’t make them any less delicious. Further, a big part of what makes grilling or even pan-frying a hot dog so great is the crispiness you get on the outside. Thinly slicing the hot dog vastly increases the available surface area for crispiness. 

A few caveats: The video shows someone using a peeler to easily slice the hot dog into neat, uniform slices. This was not my experience. Attempting to get paper thin slices with a peeler was almost a complete failure. While the first slice was pretty good, as soon as I got to the interior of the hot dog I could not get a good slice. I mangled two hot dogs before moving on to a mandoline. Hot dogs are basically pre-cooked meat mush in a casing. That mushy texture led to the hot dog smushing against the blade rather than slicing cleanly. The same thing happened with the mandoline. My mandoline is very sharp and I use it to slice vegetables thinly with no issues at all, but just like with the peeler, the hot dog just mashed against the blade rather than creating a slice. After destroying my third hot dog, I gave up and turned to my ride or die — a sharp chef’s knife. While I couldn’t quite get the slices peeler- or mandoline-thin, I was able to get close enough. It did get difficult past the halfway point though to keep the hot dog steady and get clean slices, but they were all worlds better than the results I got from using other tools. In hindsight, I wonder if popping the hot dogs in the freezer for a few minutes might have helped, but alas I didn’t think of it in the moment.

Next I had to cook the “bacon,” I don’t have an air fryer so I turned to my favorite tool for cooking bacon, a cast iron skillet. This worked great, as expected. A cast iron skillet is perfect for cooking both bacon and hot dogs, so why not a franken-hybrid of both? (See what I did there?) The “hot dog-bacon” got browned and crispy and curled up into little meat curlicues.

As far as how to serve this creation, I opted to go breakfast-style and serve it next to some mustardy scrambled eggs. I figured if we’re leaning into the combo of these two meats, why not go all the way? It was a surprisingly satisfying breakfast, especially with a dollop of stone-ground mustard on the side. I would also recommend stuffing a hot dog bun with eggs, “hot dog bacon,” and mustard for a sort of breakfast sandwich-hot dog mash up that I was sorry not to have tried.

Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

Tips for Making Hot Dog Bacon

  • Cut the hot dogs with a knife. Neither a peeler nor a mandoline worked well for me. I would recommend just cutting thin slices with a sharp chef’s knife. Don’t worry too much about getting a uniform thickness or length on the slices, they’re all just going to curl up in the pan anyway.
  • Start with an empty pan. There’s no need to add extra oil or fat to the pan. Hot dogs are plenty fatty, and while they won’t render nearly as much as pork bacon, there was a healthy layer of grease in my pan by the time I was done cooking. There was also a healthy amount of smoke, so turn on your range hood if you have one.
  • Stir the bacon up. Don’t worry about cooking the “hot dog bacon” like you would regular pork bacon, by cooking one side and the flipping, just toss it all in the pan and stir it occasionally with a wooden spoon (hot tip: you can cook pork bacon this way too!) Don’t be precious.

This article originally published on The Kitchn. See it there: The Rule-Bending Trick for Making Hot Dogs Taste Ridiculously Good