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Make your hot dogs extraordinary by adding flavorful toppings
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Make your hot dogs extraordinary by adding flavorful toppings

Nothing says summer like enjoying hot dogs fresh off the grill.

Versatile, quick and easy to cook, frankfurters are crowd-pleasers—and are never boring because they can be prepared in various ways.

The possibilities are endless as hot dogs can be garnished with an assortment of delicious toppings like ketchup, mustard, relish, chili, cheese, sauerkraut, onions, jalapeños, sautéed mushrooms and more.

While they may not require much effort to prepare, it’s important to remember food safety when cooking hot dogs. In the same category as ground meats, they should be cooked to a minimum of 160° to eliminate bacteria and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Melissa Chase, Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology’s consumer food safety program manager, emphasized the importance of using a food thermometer to accurately read temperatures.

“Make sure you’re using that food thermometer to check the internal temperatures because even though juices might be running clear, that’s not necessarily an indication that something is done,” Chase said. She also added that cooking on a grill tends to cook the outside of foods much faster than the inside, underscoring the need for a thermometer.

Grilled Hot Dogs with Onion Relish

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
12-ounce can of beer
1 teaspoon firmly packed brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ cup bread and butter pickles
2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped
4 uncooked hot dogs


In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and sauté, stirring frequently until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add beer and brown sugar, and cook until liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking until onion turns a golden brown, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in crumbled bacon, pickles and thyme.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grill. Cook hot dogs directly over the heat, turning until evenly browned, about 3-4 minutes and to an internal temperature of 160°. Remove from the grill, and top with the onion relish.

Source: Recipe adapted from Cooking Virginia Style with Farm Bureau Women

Beef Chili Sauce for Hot Dogs

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds ground beef (93% or more lean)
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
12-ounce can of beer
10-ounce can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cornmeal or masa harina
shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat a large Dutch oven over high heat until hot. Add one teaspoon of olive oil and the ground beef. Cook 8-10 minutes, breaking into small crumbles and stirring occasionally. Work in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the pan and stewing the beef in its own juices. Remove beef; set aside.

Heat remaining teaspoon of oil over high heat. Add onion, and cook until evenly browned. Add cooked ground beef, chili powder, cumin, garlic and cayenne powder. Season with salt, as desired. Stir until combined.

Stir in beer, tomatoes and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 1 hour until the chili thickens. Stir in cornmeal. If the chili becomes too thick, add a little water. If the chili is not thick enough, simmer until a desired consistency is reached.

After topping hot dogs with chili sauce, sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Source: Recipe adapted from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association

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