Marinating hot dogs isn't so crazy after all

I know what you're thinking: Why in the world would you marinate a hot dog before grilling it? Doesn't the simple fact that it's a hot dog in the first place guarantee that you don't have to do anything -- save squirting it with a bit of ketchup and mustard -- and it tastes like perfection? Maaaaaybe. But hear me out on this one.

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Some people believe that marinating hot dogs before they hit the grill can actually intensify the flavor experience and improve the taste of your dog. But how does the meat absorb the marinade through the thick casing? Let's take a look ...

According to Good. Food. Stories, scoring high quality beef hot dogs with tiny crosshatches and soaking them overnight in a marinade of ketchup, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, Worcester sauce, and chili oil (click link for recipe) gives ordinarily tasty dogs a more intense charred-spicy-sweet flavor. Mmmm.

Still skeptical? You can go simpler, too. In fact, some grill masters recommend making small cuts (as described above) and marinating them in teriyaki sauce or sauerkraut to amp up the flavor before grilling. Of course, there's debate as to whether the mixture actually soaks into the meat or simply clings to the outside as a glaze (in which case, it wouldn't be a true "marinade"). But is anyone really keeping score?

Another popular hot dog marinade recipe is this one for Beer Marinated Chili Dogs: Simmer dogs in a savory concoction of onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, chilies, and beer, then finish them on a scorching hot grill.

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And, finally, here's a classic recipe for Sweet-and-Spicy Grilled Hot Dogs:


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12-16 hot dogs


1. Heat first five ingredients in large saucepan.

2. Add hot dogs and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Grill hot dogs until they're blistered with good char.

Have you ever marinated hot dogs?

Image via stevendepolo/Flickr

Written by Kim Conte or CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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