The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Store-Bought Hot Dogs from The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Store-Bought Hot Dogs Gallery

The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Store-Bought Hot Dogs Gallery

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The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Store-Bought Hot Dogs
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The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Store-Bought Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are one of those quintessentially American foods, one without which no summer cookout is complete. But when it comes time to actually choose the perfect pack of hot dogs, it can sometimes be daunting to find the right one — especially if you’re looking for healthier options. We’ve done the work for you and tracked down the healthiest and unhealthiest hot dogs at the supermarket.

Hot dogs are a grilling mainstay, and when compared with a cheese-covered burger or a juicy bratwurst, a standard-sized hot dog can actually contain fewer calories than anything else on the grill. But not all hot dogs are created equal, and some pack far more fat, calories, sodium, and questionable ingredients into the casing than others.

If you’re looking for a better-for-you hot dog, there are a few things to keep in mind. One, use your eyes: The bigger a hot dog is, the more calories and fat it will have. The words jumbo, stadium, and bun-length connote a larger-than-normal dog, which can sometimes be nearly double the size of a standard dog. You may also look for sodium content; sometimes the lower-calorie turkey and chicken dogs are pumped full of extra salt in order to make them taste better, which could be risky for your heart health if you eat too many.

So what do you want from your hot dog? Some brands sell uncured hot dogs (also sometimes with “no added nitrates”), which are simpler and more natural than nitrate-filled dogs. Also be on the lookout for hot dogs that contain more than around 400 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly a third of your recommended daily limit, and opt for organic hot dogs (which are made from organic meat, don’t contain antibiotics or hormones, and are nitrate-free) if you can — but keep in mind that these are usually more expensive.

If you're wondering what all the mysterious ingredients in your hot dogs actually are, we suggest you check out this handy guide from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, which breaks them all down one by one, and is even searchable. But in the meantime, learn from us which supermarket hot dogs are the healthiest and unhealthiest.

All Beef: Healthiest: Applegate Naturals Beef Hot Dog
Courtesy of Applegate

All Beef: Healthiest: Applegate Naturals Beef Hot Dog

Calories: 110
Fat: 9 grams
Sodium: 500 milligrams
Cholesterol: 25 milligrams

This hot dog is 98 percent grass-fed beef (yes, buying grass-fed makes a difference) and water; the other 2 percent is sea salt, spices, garlic, onion, paprika, and celery powder. Not much to disagree with there. If you want to keep it as healthy as possible, steer clear of sugary condiments and sauces and don’t pile on greasy toppings.

All Beef: Healthiest: Organic Prairie Organic Uncured Grassfed Beef Hot Dogs
Courtesy of Organic Prairie

All Beef: Healthiest: Organic Prairie Organic Uncured Grassfed Beef Hot Dogs

Calories: 160
Fat: 13 grams
Sodium: 450 milligrams
Cholesterol: 40 milligrams

Like Applegate’s, this hot dog doesn’t contain any funky stuff: just organic beef, water, sea salt, cane syrup, celery powder, spices, onion, and garlic.

All Beef: Unhealthiest: Ball Park Beef Franks
itemmaster/Ball Park

All Beef: Unhealthiest: Ball Park Beef Franks

Calories: 180
Fat: 15 grams
Sodium: 510 milligrams
Cholesterol: 30 milligrams

These hot dogs are far from 100 percent beef. They contain ingredients like corn syrup, hydrolyzed beef stock, and sodium phosphate… Not a chemical that needs to be in your hot dog.

All Beef: Unhealthiest: Sabrett Natural Casing Beef Frankfurters
itemmaster/sabrett

All Beef: Unhealthiest: Sabrett Natural Casing Beef Frankfurters

Calories: 170
Fat: 15 grams
Sodium: 470 milligrams
Cholesterol: 35 milligrams

In addition to containing nearly 30 percent of your recommended daily fat intake, these hot dogs have ingredients such as sodium diacetate, sorbitol, and “flavoring.” Even if it’s a natural flavoring — which we doubt — that’s probably not a good thing.

Low Fat: Healthiest: Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks
Itemmaster/Hebrew National

Low Fat: Healthiest: Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks

Calories: 45
Fat: 1 gram
Sodium: 490 milligrams
Cholesterol: 15 milligrams

This hot dog is primarily beef, water, and modified potato starch used as an extender, along with standard processed hot dog ingredients like sodium lactate, hydrolyzed soy protein, and sodium diacetate; unfortunately, if you want a low-fat hot dog it won’t be all-natural. Opting for low-fat versions of your favorite foods is a “healthy” habit that’s actually not healthy at all. Hebrew National’s beef is kosher, however, and the hot dogs contain no artificial flavors, artificial colors, or by-products.

Low Fat: Healthiest: Boar’s Head Lite Beef Frankfurters (Natural Casing)
Itemmaster/Boar’s Head

Low Fat: Healthiest: Boar’s Head Lite Beef Frankfurters (Natural Casing)

Calories: 90
Fat: 6 grams
Sodium: 270 milligrams
Cholesterol: 25 milligrams

Boar’s Head Lite Beef Franks contain far less sodium than your standard dog, and they only contain eight ingredients: beef, water, salt, paprika, sodium phosphate, flavorings, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrite. If you’re craving something sweet after, try finishing off your meal with one of these fruit-filled desserts perfect for a barbecue!

Low Fat: Unhealthiest: Ball Park Lean Beef Franks
itemmaster/Ball Park

Low Fat: Unhealthiest: Ball Park Lean Beef Franks

Calories: 80
Fat: 5 grams
Sodium: 480 milligrams
Cholesterol: 20 milligrams

These are primarily beef, water, and modified corn starch, and other ingredients include corn syrup, sodium phosphate, and sodium diacetate; they’re nitrate-free. But the full-fat dog is actually far less processed. If you didn’t know that, you definitely didn’t know these other facts you should read before your next barbecue.

Mixed Meat: Healthiest: Applegate Naturals Stadium Beef and Pork Hot Dog
Courtesy of Applegate

Mixed Meat: Healthiest: Applegate Naturals Stadium Beef and Pork Hot Dog

Calories: 110
Fat: 9 grams
Sodium: 360 milligrams
Cholesterol: 30 milligrams

These hot dogs are made of mostly beef, pork, and water. Other than that, all that’s in them is spices and the lamb casing. The ingredients truly couldn’t be any simpler. Pair your hot dog with one of these side dishes for a relatively healthy summer meal.

Mixed Meat: Healthiest: Oscar Meyer Classic Uncured Weiners
Itemmaster/Oscar Meyer

Mixed Meat: Healthiest: Oscar Meyer Classic Uncured Weiners

Calories: 110
Fat: 10 grams
Sodium: 420 milligrams
Cholesterol: 12 milligrams

Oscar Mayer’s classic wieners sadly do contain mechanically separated chicken and turkey (which you can read all about here), but they contain less fat and cholesterol than the competition, and the newly revamped formula means that the only other ingredients are pork, water, salt, dextrose, corn syrup, white vinegar, celery juice, sodium phosphate, cherry powder, and flavorings.

Mixed Meat: Unhealthiest: Kayem Beef and Pork Hot Dogs
Itemmaster/Kayem

Mixed Meat: Unhealthiest: Kayem Beef and Pork Hot Dogs

Calories: 140
Fat: 13 grams
Sodium: 430 milligrams
Cholesterol: 25 milligrams

This hot dog has more fat than some of the other options, as well as more cholesterol. It also has more ingredients, including corn syrup, potassium lactate, and dextrose. Not sure what those are? You should probably read up on the chemicals added to most of your store-bought food.

Mixed Meat: Unhealthiest: Boar’s Head Pork and Beef Frankfurters
Itemmaster/Boar’s Head

Mixed Meat: Unhealthiest: Boar’s Head Pork and Beef Frankfurters

Calories: 150
Fat: 14 grams
Sodium: 460 milligrams
Cholesterol: 25 milligrams

While the ingredients for this mixed meat hot dog are missing from Boar’s Head’s website, this brand has more sodium and fat than most other hot dogs of its kind. Your body actually needs some sodium to stay healthy — but if you overdo it, you might put your heart at risk.

Turkey: Healthiest: Applegate Naturals Turkey Hot Dog
itemmaster/Applegate

Turkey: Healthiest: Applegate Naturals Turkey Hot Dog

Calories: 70
Fat: 3.5 grams
Sodium: 450 milligrams
Cholesterol: 35 milligrams

Like their bovine cousins, these turkey dogs contain 98 percent meat and water; the other ingredients are salt, paprika, onion, garlic, cardamom, coriander, mace, ginger, black pepper, celery juice powder, and cherry powder. If you don’t have a grill, try cooking these on the stove or in the oven and pair it with some no-cook sides for a simple summer dinner.

Turkey: Healthiest: Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Hot Dogs
Dreamstime

Turkey: Healthiest: Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Hot Dogs

Calories: 90
Fat: 3 grams
Sodium: 670 milligrams
Cholesterol: 50 milligrams

The ingredients in Trader Joe’s Uncured Turkey Hot Dogs are extremely simple: turkey, water, and seasoning. However, be wary of the sodium in this brand. Due to nitrates added during processing, too many of these hot dogs could send your blood pressure through the roof. While this option isn’t bad, there are certainly healthier options at Trader Joe’s.

Turkey: Unhealthiest: Foster Farms Turkey Franks

Turkey: Unhealthiest: Foster Farms Turkey Franks

Calories: 140
Fat: 12 grams
Sodium: 480 milligrams
Cholesterol: 50 milligrams

Not only do these contain more cholesterol than just about any other standard-size frank on the market, they’re also made with mechanically separated turkey. As for the rest of the ingredients, the only ones that are pronounceable are corn syrup solids, spices, and flavorings.

Turkey: Unhealthiest: Ball Park Turkey Franks

Amazon

Turkey: Unhealthiest: Ball Park Turkey Franks

Calories: 110
Fat: 7 grams
Sodium: 540 milligrams
Cholesterol: 35 milligrams

These are loaded with sodium, and are also made of mechanically separated turkey. Interestingly enough, they also contain beef stock. Looking for the best place to grill your hot dogs? Here are the best affordable backyard grills you can buy.

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healthiest hot dogs

The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Store-Bought Hot Dogs Gallery