14 Ways You Never Thought To Use Hot Dogs

A staple food in American culture, hot dogs are a type of sausage typically made from beef, pork, or a combination of the two and seasoned with a mild blend of spices, which can include garlic, mustard seeds, nutmeg, paprika, and coriander. Unlike regular sausages, hot dogs are made with finely ground meat, which grants them a soft or smooth texture. In some cases, the meat is smoked or cooked (or both) before being stuffed in its casing. Hot dogs have a distinct and savory flavor that is slightly salty and smoky. Despite having a smooth texture, they can be a bit chewy, yet the skin of the sausage provides a gratifying snap when bitten.

However, the hot dog you know today is more than just a type of sausage, but rather the sausage served with its signature soft and partially slit bun and topped with a wide range of condiments that vary according to the region. Some of the most popular condiments include a dollop of ketchup, mayo, mustard, relish, onions, and pickles. In some parts of the country, hot dogs are also served with more unique toppings, such as chili, cheese, sauerkraut, and even coleslaw. Nevertheless, hot dogs can also be enjoyed in different ways that don't include their distinct bun. Some of the most popular ones include corn dogs or pigs in a blanket. Yet, the possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking with hot dogs. From breakfast options to dinner or snacks, here are 14 different ways you could try if you want to add hot dogs to your meals.

1. Add them to a breakfast casserole

Casseroles are a time-saving and economical way to feed — and please — a crowd. In fact, records suggest they have been around since as early as the 13th century as an effective strategy to fill the bellies of large groups of hungry people. Plus, they are easy to prepare, can be enjoyed at any time of day, and can be made in advance. Classic casseroles are usually rice, pasta, or potato-based dishes. Yet, you can easily prepare a hot dog breakfast casserole by including diced hot dogs, eggs, milk, cheese, and other ingredients such as bread, potatoes, or vegetables. The hot dogs add a savory, slightly salty, and smoky flavor to the dish. At the same time, the eggs provide richness, and the cheese adds creaminess and a mild, slightly salty taste.

Adding hot dogs to a breakfast casserole can improve the dish by creating new dimensions of flavor. You can choose to incorporate hot dogs into the mix or pre-cook them in a pan for added texture, which would provide a satisfying crunch to every bite, while the other ingredients in the casserole help to balance out the flavors and create a hearty and filling breakfast dish to be served at a family brunch or as a quick and easy breakfast during the week.

2. Make a hot dog stuffing

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, stuffing became a holiday staple around the 1800s and has been a popular side dish on American party tables since the 1970s. While recipes may vary from one state to another and even from family to family, stuffing (also known as dressing) is a traditional side dish typically made from seasoned bread cubes or crumbs, broth, spices, butter, herbs, and, in some cases, small pieces of meat such as chicken or pork — or in this case, diced hot dogs.

When cooked, the hot dogs in the stuffing become soft and tender, blending with the other ingredients to create a rich and flavorful dish. The combination of savory hot dogs, seasoned bread, and herbs makes a delightful side dish that is both filling and delicious. Whether served at a holiday meal or as a side to a hearty meal, hot dog stuffing is sure to be a hit for kids and adults alike.

3. Use them as a pizza topping

Pizza is a popular Italian dish consisting of a round, flat-bread base topped with sauce, cheese, and various other ingredients, such as vegetables, herbs, and meats. In fact, ground beef and sausages are among the most common types of meats you can find on top of a pizza. What's more, you've probably already enjoyed them hundreds of times when ordering the all-time favorite pepperoni pizza, which contains thin slices of a slightly spicy beef and pork sausage. Moreover, what once started as a pizza made from leftover food to feed the poor turned into a very common Neapolitan pizza flavor called salsiccia and friarielli, a combo of Italian sausage and a leafy green vegetable that are tossed on top of the dish to cook along with the cheese. Thus, it's no surprise that adding thinly sliced or diced hot dogs to your pizza would be a total hit.

The flavor of the hot dogs on a pizza would be complemented by the tomato sauce, melted cheese, and seasonings, and their texture would provide a pleasing contrast to the chewy crust and soft cheese, creating a unique and satisfying experience with each bite. Therefore, there is no doubt that using hot dogs as a pizza topping is a simple and effective way to create a unique and delicious dish.

4. Mix them with your lasagna filling

Lasagna is a comforting and filling dish that consists of flat pasta noodles layered with meat, cheese, and tomato sauce and then baked in the oven. According to National Geographic, the traditional Italian recipe is filled with the classic Bologna ragu, which contains a variety of minced meats sautéed with chopped onions, carrots, and celery and cooked with tomato purée in milk, broth, or red wine. However, from vegetarian to white sauce or even keto versions, the recipe can vary greatly depending on where you eat it.

Therefore, since there are so many different lasagna recipes and variations around the world, who is to say that a hot dog lasagna wouldn't make another tasty version of the popular dish? A lasagna with hot dogs as a filling would typically have sliced, diced, or minced hot dogs between the layers of noodles, adding their characteristic smoky flavor to it. Furthermore, you can either mix them with your meat of choice for a subtle spin on the original recipe, or combine them with your choice of veggies for a nutrient and fiber-rich version. Either way, giving a hot dog lasagna a shot will not disappoint.

5. Add them to a stew

Warm and hearty, stews are just the dish you need when the weather gets colder. Stew is a wholesome dish made by simmering meat and vegetables in a flavorful broth or sauce. Being such a popular dish worldwide, stews are commonly made with a wide range of animal-based proteins depending on the region, including beef, chicken, veal, lamb, pork, fish, duck, and even squirrel or rabbit meat. However, there's no need to rush to the supermarket if you are missing a meaty ingredient but have some hot dogs around since making a hot dog stew can be a quick and inexpensive way to enjoy a nice homemade meal.

Stews are typically cooked for a long time, which allows the flavors to develop and the meat to become tender. Thus, if you add diced hot dogs as one of the main ingredients, they will blend with the rest of the ingredients just as any other meat would, with the advantage that they cook in a fraction of the time. Plus, the mix of savory hot dogs, tender vegetables, and flavorful broth creates a uniquely tasty meal that will have you coming back for more.

6. Make some hot dog kebabs

Kebabs, also known as shish kebabs or skewered meat, are a widespread dish consisting of bite-sized pieces of meat and vegetables that are grilled on a skewer. Kebabs are popular in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Central Asian cuisines and are often served as a main course or as a street food.

While kebabs are typically made with lamb or beef, a kebab made with hot dogs would include bite-sized pieces of hot dog that are skewered along with other ingredients and seasonings, which would help to balance the flavors. When grilled, the hot dogs would become slightly charred, blending with the other ingredients to create a well-rounded and hearty dish. Some tasty ingredients you could add to a hot dog kebab include diced vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers, and onions, and even sweet potatoes, fruit, or corn as a source of healthy carbs for a nutritionally-balanced version.

7. Bake them in a quiche

A popular brunch staple, quiche is a savory custard pie or tart made with eggs, heavy cream, cheese, and a handful of other ingredients baked in a pastry crust. Its additional ingredients typically vary according to the type of quiche. For example, one of the most popular ones is the Quiche Lorraine, which includes smoked bacon or lard cubes. Yet, simply adding onions to the mix transforms the classic Quiche Lorraine into a Quiche Alsacienne. Thus, as you can see, quiche is a versatile dish that can be made with just about anything you have at hand, including vegetables, meat, or even hot dogs.

A quiche made with hot dogs would require mixing diced or sliced hot dogs into the eggs, cheese, and cream mix, which you can cook beforehand for an additional crunchy element that would pleasantly contrast with the smooth and creamy custard. Finally, you can complete your own version of this classic French dish by adding your favorite herbs to the mix, such as rosemary, thyme, or chives.

8. Add them to chili

While chili is often served as a topping for hot dogs or nachos in Texan or Southwestern cuisines, you can also repurpose your hot dogs by adding them to a pot of chili — or a bowl o'red, as the dish is popularly called in San Antonio, Texas, since the 1800s. Chili con carne is a hearty stew that consists of among other things, meat, kidney beans, a flavorful sauce made with spices, and almost a 1:1 ratio of chili peppers to meat, resulting in a spicy yet comforting dish that many turn to when the weather gets cold.

However, despite being a Texas staple, chili is a dish with endless regional variations within the country, which further confirms that adding hot dogs might be just what your chili was missing. Plus, you can choose between mixing diced or minced hot dogs with the meat or going all in by swapping one for the other entirely. Either way, the hot dogs would give your chili an extra layer of smokiness that would flawlessly match the spice from the peppers, creating the perfect flavor combination you can enjoy on top of rice, noodles, or french fries.

9. Turn them into hot dog patties

Believe it or not, the classic burger patty has been around for ages. From ancient Rome to the Mongolian Empire, the disc-shaped piece of ground meat seasoned with herbs and spices has fed hungry warriors and gourmet palates alike. And while there are countless patty variations, the most common, non-vegetarian ones are made out of beef, pork, chicken, fish, or turkey. Nevertheless, a version made of hot dogs would be a genuinely unconventional twist on the classic burger patty.

All you need to do to make hot dog patties is combine finely chopped or minced hot dogs with other ingredients like breadcrumbs, spices, and eggs, which would help hold the mixture together. Lastly, form the patties as you normally would and grill them until fully cooked. You could serve hot dog patties on a bun like a classic burger (which would actually taste pretty similar to a traditional hot dog), or just serve it on its own as a main course with a side salad and fries. Either way, you'll surely enjoy this peculiar dish!

10. Toss them into a hearty salad or bowl

Salads and bowls are known for being many health enthusiasts' go-to dishes due to their high nutritional density. Plus, they are incredibly easy to assemble, don't require much cooking or heating, and you can prep them in advance, making them all the more convenient. Both dishes typically consist of a variety of cooked or raw vegetables, leafy greens, and other ingredients such as fruits, nuts, grains, or cheese. Yet, other salads or bowls are pasta or legume-based, meaning that you can pretty much whip one up with just about anything you have at hand.

While it's not uncommon for salads and bowls to incorporate a meaty element, they usually consist of beef, seafood, or poultry. Still, switching any of them for a hot dog or two can be another fun and economical way to add more protein to your meal and make it more filling and satisfying, seeing that protein helps keep you fuller for longer, per a 2020 study published in the Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome. Take the Chicago-style hot dog salad as an example. This salad combines grilled and sliced hot dogs with classic hot dog toppings such as dill pickles, pepperoncini, onions, and tomatoes and serves them on a bed of mixed greens or shredded cabbage with a honey-mustard dressing. Whether you follow this recipe or make one of your own, a hot dog salad or bowl is a quick and easy way to feed a crowd.

11. Make a hot dog paella

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish made with rice, saffron, broth, and a variety of ingredients such as fish, seafood, and vegetables. However, because the dish originated from adding leftovers to the rice, there are countless recipes and variations. For instance, the classic or original paella recipe called Paella Valenciana contains duck, rabbit, and even snails. In contrast, a seafood paella typically includes crab, mussels, clams, prawns, and squid. In any case, the dish is prepared by cooking the rice in a large shallow pan (also called paella) and then adding the rest of the ingredients.

Seeing that there is no right or wrong way to make paella, you can easily make hot dog paella. In fact, it would be an American version of the Spanish chicken and chorizo paella, which, as its name implies, is made with chicken and chorizo, a dried and heavily-seasoned cured sausage. Grilling or pan-frying the hot dogs can help you add a crispy element to an otherwise tender dish.

12. Bake some hot dog pancake muffins

Pancakes and muffins are two classic breakfast dishes. Pancakes are a type of flat cake made by mixing flour, eggs, and milk, and cooked on a griddle or frying pan. On the other hand, muffins are small, cup-shaped cakes made from a batter of flour, sugar, eggs, and milk, and baked in a muffin tin. Since both pancakes and muffins may contain sweet toppings like chocolate or fruit, and because pancakes are served with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, these two are often regarded as a sweet breakfast or treat.

However, ever since combining sweet and salty flavors became a thing, new and more adventurous pancake and muffin recipes have become more popular. Thus, why not try and combine all the elements and create a sweet and salty pancake muffin featuring hot dogs? It might seem unconventional, but a pancake batter baked in the form of a muffin and topped with diced hot dogs makes a surprisingly delicious treat that adds a bit of protein to an otherwise carb-rich dish.

13. Make some hot dog breakfast tacos

When you think about Mexican cuisine, tacos are probably one of the first things that come to mind. However, this dish made its way to the American public over 100 years ago in the early 1900s. Because this simple yet delicious dish is so versatile and easy to prepare, endless adaptations of Mexican ingredients and elements kept popping up, including the breakfast taco, which is actually a Texas original.

Breakfast tacos consist of a warm tortilla filled with common breakfast ingredients, like scrambled eggs, cheese, beans, and meats such as bacon, chorizo, or sausages. Thus, swapping any of the latter with hot dogs is a no-brainer, and you'll still have a tasty and filling breakfast. When adding hot dogs to your taco, think about whether you're looking for a meaty texture or a crunchy feel. If you're going for the first, then dice the hot dogs into relatively large pieces. Otherwise, be sure to thinly slice and grill them beforehand for a crispy element that would make the perfect bacon swap. Lastly, top your hot dog breakfast tacos with salsa, crema, and avocado, and don't forget the hot sauce!

14. Try some hot dog dumplings

Filled dumplings are a traditional Chinese dish that has been around for almost 2,000 years. They're made of small balls of dough that are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as meat or vegetables (or a mixture of both). Then, the dumplings are either steamed, boiled, or fried and they can be served as a starter, side dish, or main course. Since minced pork is one of the most common meats used as dumpling filling, swapping it for chopped hot dogs is another way to take advantage of your leftover hot dogs without sacrificing much of the original texture.

However, the hot dogs would add a smoky element that would pair perfectly with the soy, oyster, and fish sauces used to prepare the filling. Overall, making some hot dog dumplings is an easy way to give an American twist to this recipe, all while creating a unique and delicious meal.