In this mouth-watering article, “Teach a (Hot) Dog a New Trick,” Nancy Loseke shares her childhood memories of wienie roasts and the simple joy of grilling hot dogs in picturesque riverside parks. She also explores the wide world of hot dog variations, from Chicago dogs “dragged through the garden” to Sweden’s shrimp salad-topped creation. Whether you’re a hot dog connoisseur or simply enjoy the nostalgic flavors of this American classic, Steven Raichlen has a new technique that will take your grilling game to the next level. Discover his genius trick called “hedgehogging,” which creates a crusty exterior with even more wood smoke flavor. Plus, don’t miss out on the mouthwatering hotdog bun grilling idea by Russ Faulk. As you celebrate this Fourth of July, why not try something new and elevate your hot dog grilling skills?

Teach a (Hot) Dog a New Trick

Hot Dogs: A Sentimental Favorite

When it comes to nostalgic childhood memories, hot dogs often take center stage. For many of us, hot dogs are associated with carefree weekends spent with family and friends, enjoying impromptu wienie roasts at the local park. The simple pleasure of biting into a juicy hot dog, surrounded by the crackling sound of a fire and the smell of wood smoke, is enough to transport anyone back to a simpler time. No wonder hot dogs hold a special place in our hearts.

Regional Variations: From Chicago to Chile

Hot dogs may be quintessentially American, but they have also inspired countless regional variations across the globe. From the iconic Chicago dog, topped with a unique combination of mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickle, sport peppers, and celery salt, to the indulgent completo from Chile, piled high with mashed avocado and mayonnaise, each culture puts its own spin on this beloved classic. Whether you prefer the smoky flavors of a bacon-wrapped Sonoran dog or the delightful surprise of Iceland’s lamb hot dog with remoulade and fried onions, there’s a hot dog for every taste.

Teach a (Hot) Dog a New Trick

Hot Dog Tasting: Finding Your Favorite

With so many regional variations to choose from, it’s only fitting that hot dog enthusiasts embark on a tasting journey to find their favorite. In a hot dog tasting experiment, colleagues and I sampled a staggering 89 different hot dogs, each with its own unique flavor profile. What I discovered was that my personal preference wasn’t limited to one particular dog but varied based on the occasion. Sometimes, I crave the garlicky bologna-like filling and satisfying snap of a New York-style pork and beef hot dog from Schaller and Weber. Other times, I find joy in the simplicity of a budget-friendly hot dog from a corner grocery store, like Bar-S or Sugardale. The key is to explore and embrace the diversity of hot dog options available.

The Technique of Hedgehogging

If you’re looking to elevate your hot dog game, there’s a simple technique that can take your grilling prowess to the next level. It’s called “hedgehogging,” and it involves scoring the surface of the hot dogs in a crosshatch pattern. This scoring not only creates an eye-catching presentation but also allows the edges to puff and char during grilling, resulting in an exceptionally crusty exterior. The added texture and smoky flavor make hedgehogged hot dogs a standout choice for any barbecue gathering. Thanks to Russ Faulk of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet for introducing this unique scoring technique, which gives hot dogs a whole new level of appeal.

Teach a (Hot) Dog a New Trick

Wood Smoke Flavor: Enhancing the Crusty Exterior

To truly enhance the crusty exterior of hedgehogged hot dogs, it’s all about the wood smoke flavor. Grilling the hot dogs over wood chips or chunks imparts a subtle smokiness that complements the crispy texture perfectly. The smoky aroma and taste take hot dogs to new heights, creating a sensory experience that will have everyone coming back for seconds. Experiment with different wood varieties, such as hickory, mesquite, or cherry, to find the flavor profile that best suits your personal taste.

Grilling the Buns: Mayonnaise and Remoulade Sauce

While the hot dogs take center stage, don’t forget about the buns. Grilling the buns adds a delightful toasted texture and slightly charred flavor that elevates the overall hot dog experience. For an extra-special touch, slather the buns with mayonnaise and remoulade sauce before grilling. This combination adds a tangy and creamy element that complements the savory flavors of the hot dog perfectly. It’s a subtle twist that will impress your guests and ensure they come back for more.

Teach a (Hot) Dog a New Trick

Recipe: Cool-As-All-Get-Out Hotdogs

To fully embrace the art of grilling a perfect hot dog, try out this recipe for cool-as-all-get-out hotdogs. This recipe incorporates the hedgehogging technique, wood smoke flavor, and grilling the buns with mayonnaise and remoulade sauce. The result is a hot dog experience that will leave you feeling cool and satisfied. Find the complete recipe here.

Enjoying Hot Dogs on the Fourth of July

For many Americans, the Fourth of July is synonymous with hot dogs and fireworks. It’s the perfect time to fire up the grill and celebrate with family and friends. Whether you’re enjoying a classic Chicago dog at a backyard barbecue or indulging in a smoky Sonoran dog at a fireworks display, hot dogs add a delicious and festive touch to the holiday. Make sure to have plenty of condiments and sides to accompany your hot dogs, such as sauerkraut, relish, mustard, and a variety of buns. Don’t forget the potato salad and watermelon for the complete Fourth of July experience.

Teach a (Hot) Dog a New Trick

Barbecue Basics for Hot Dogs

While hot dogs are a nostalgic favorite, they are also a great starting point for those new to the world of barbecue. Grilling hot dogs is a simple and accessible way to hone your grilling skills and experiment with different flavors. Start with the classic hot dog toppings and gradually expand your repertoire to include regional variations. As you master the art of grilling hot dogs, you’ll gain the confidence to tackle more complex barbecue dishes. It’s a delicious journey that will have you hooked on the joys of outdoor cooking.

Other Barbecue University Courses for Hot Dogs

If you’re looking to take your hot dog game to the next level, consider exploring other courses offered by Barbecue University. From mastering the art of homemade sausages to perfecting the toppings and condiments, there’s a course for every hot dog enthusiast. Expand your knowledge and skills, and impress your friends and family with your newfound expertise. Barbecue University is the ultimate destination for anyone looking to become a hot dog virtuoso.

In conclusion, hot dogs are more than just a tasty treat. They represent cherished memories, regional variations, and endless possibilities for grilling creativity. Whether you’re a purist who prefers a classic Chicago dog or an adventurous foodie willing to try international variations, there’s a hot dog out there for you. So fire up the grill, embrace the technique of hedgehogging, and enjoy the smoky, crusty goodness of a perfectly grilled hot dog.

Teach a (Hot) Dog a New Trick


I'm Cooking Master, your culinary guide on Cooking Planet! With a passion for cooking and a deep appreciation for the diverse flavors and techniques scattered across the globe, this website is where I share my knowledge and experiences. From baking delectable treats to grilling mouthwatering dishes, I aim to inspire your cooking endeavors. Join me as we embark on a gastronomic expedition, exploring the realms of roasting, boiling, frying, and more. From Asian delicacies to European classics, African delights to American favorites, let's unlock the secrets of cooking around the world together. Discover the vast and appetizing world of Cooking Planet!