The Best (and Worst) Hot Dogs to Buy

Which brand-name hot dogs are best, and which are not?

A classic hot dog with yellow mustard.
ThinkStock Photos
A classic hot dog with yellow mustard.

There are few things that signify the start of summer like the smell of hot dogs grilling in the backyard. Americans hold hot dogs near and dear to their hearts, up there with the likes of apple pie and cheeseburgers. From classic New York-style dogs, dressed with mustard and sauerkraut, to ones that are "dragged through the garden" with minced raw onion, neon green relish, sport peppers, pickle spears, tomatoes, yellow mustard, and celery salt in Chicago.

Click here for The Best (and Worst) Hot Dogs to Buy

Given the nationwide popularity of hot dogs, it's no surprise that so many food companies produce their own varieties. Some brands are so well known for their dogs that they've become iconic — such as Oscar Mayer. Others are known for dabbling in other areas, but still manufacture enough hot dogs to garner national recognition, like Boar's Head.

The Daily Meal's Hot Dog Taste Test

Nathan’s Famous Beef Frank 78.3%
Oscar Mayer Classic Beef Franks 76%
Sabrett Skinless Beef Frankfurters 74%
Trader Joe’s All Natural Uncured All Beef Hot Dogs 73.7%
Applegate Farms: The Super Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog 73.5%
Ball Park Beef Franks 70.3%
Hebrew National Beef Franks 69%
Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters 68.8%

To that end, six TDM editors blind-tasted eight brand-name hot dogs readily available in most grocery stores (plus the in-house brands from Trader Joe's). All of the dogs are all-beef, so there was a level of consistency for the taste-test. From the nostalgic classics like Nathan's Famous to the natural and organic dogs from Applegate Farms, each editor made notes based on each hot dog's texture, taste, mouthfeel, smell, and appearance. Was the hot dog too salty? Did the casing snap when you bit into it? Did it taste overly processed?

The editors had many strong opinions and ultimately, there were no runaway favorites. In fact, all of the hot dogs scored between 79 and 69 percent on average. Check out the slideshow for the panel's commentary and full details about each brand's score.

Think the panel misjudged your favorite hot dog brand? Leave a comment below with your tasting notes.

Research contributed by Chrissy Harris

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What about Schickhaus Griddle Franks?

davek's picture

It appears that you were comparing apples and oranges...skinless/natural casing? You were limited to the brands with national distribution. Naturally there are regional brands that blow the nationals away


This is rigged! Your Top 10 is upside down...some of the WORST dogs are
listed. Numero Uno is Michigan's Koegels Vienna (hot dogs) and Numero
Dos is Bryan's (ask any Southerner.) You guys blew it but revealed you wouldn't know a good dog if it jumped up and bit you on the fat A**!

floyd's picture

I am gonna have to disagree with the choices made. I understand different states have different Local HotDog vendors. But, the 3 best hotdogs come from Michigan with natural Casings or without. 1. Koegels 2. Kowalski's 3. Winters (east pointe, Mi).

jjv1947's picture

Hebrew National Beef Franks. Should not even be on the list. I call them SALT dogs. They could melt ice in the Winter.

Magnumrose's picture

Wow, where are the KOEGELS?? Michigan's finest dog is Koegel Viennas, they even have skinless. They snap, they are just the right size, and oh do they taste good grilled, boiled or baked!


Exactly, where are the KOEGEL'S? Can't figure out why Nathan's made it to the top, just tried them, not good. Even with Koegel Natural casing dogs being made with some pork, the fat does not come out of the skins like it does with the Nathan's. If it is "all beef", it should be a burger, not a hot dog.



brennasnana's picture

There is only one kind of hotdog that I will eat, and that is a Hoffman hotdog. Right now they are only available in the areas around Syracuse NY. I did hear that they are going nationwide soon. If they become available in your area, you must try them. Believe me once you try one you will never go back. If you have a family member or friend who has moved out of the area, and they find you are coming for a visit, the first thing they say is "bring me some Hoffman hotdogs". If I can't have my Hoffman, I don't want any!!

loosecannon's picture

I guess it depends on where you live?....I have never heard of most of the brands mentioned....i have only heard of or tasted 3 of the brands listed ...

my thing is to buy off brands because we feed too many children to be able to afford any of the named brand hot dogs because they all are too high priced

hotdawgfan's picture

If this was a contest foir the top 100, Nathan's would be 101. I got half way through one once, but I could not possibley finish. My dog got the rest and the rest of the package. I am amazed that this brand is used in hot dog eating contests.

Riomel's picture

My,my,my, you definitely did not have hot dog eaters in this panel. Even I could make a case for Nathans, but to have Hebrew National next to the bottom. Even the eskimos love them.

chezus's picture

I like a good dog come summer time. Especially when grilled - a little crispy with burn marks. This is a great list as I am always a little scared with buying my dogs ...

edjack8's picture

Best hot dogs, by far are Kountry Klub from Boston---featured in several restaurants as far as San Francisco.

Ask Eddie Andelman---radio personality

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