It doesn’t matter what city I travel to, it seems that every hot dog vendor I speak with has their favorite way to prepare the hot dogs they sell. Over the years I have learned that encased meats can be boiled, fried, grilled on or roasted in the oven.
With all of these options available to new hot dog vendors, we are consistently asked which way is the best and what style is required in cooking the perfect hot dog.
While we could tell them what “we” believe sells the best…we ultimately inform them that this research is hyper local.
Hot dogs are an American comfort food. They are part of our culture, but since every region of the country has their own ways of preparing hot dogs, it seems like something that can only be found from asking in the area they plan to sell. Consumers have their own childhood memories of their first hot dogs. Mine comes from the times my father would take me to a Detroit Tiger baseball game. If you talk with someone else, their memories will be completely different.
Here are the pro’s and con’s of the three main methods of preparing hot dogs to help you make up your mind and to combine with how consumers may prefer their dogs in your community.
Cooking The Perfect Hot Dog
This is the process of using a hotel pan with the bottom filled with water. Inset into this pan is a perforated hotel pan that allows the boiling hot water below to steam up to the dogs. This method is used for buns as well.
Pro’s: Steam coming from a cart gives great visual appeal and allows for quick cooking of frozen foods and steaming buns.
Con’s: Steaming can alter the color of the hot dogs and doesn’t allow for long holding periods. Too much steam and your dog will shrivel and some dogs can turn grey.
Very simple process; boil water, add hot dogs.
Pro’s: Quickly boil large numbers of product at one time. Once cooked, they can sit in hot water until they are sold.
Con’s: Often referred to negatively as “dirty water dogs”. Hot dogs can split if boiled too long.
Cooking the hot dogs over an open flame.
Pro’s: Offers the customer those appealing grill marks. Smoke from the grill provides an odor that has been known to attract customers from blocks away.
Con’s: Grilled dogs do not hold long and thus need to be cooked a la minute which can create longer lines. Grilling also requires more space for equipment and uses more propane to operate.