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While toppings for hamburgers have gotten more creative, hot dogs are still mostly restricted to the basics. Let’s be frank: mustard, relish, sauerkraut, and maybe chili and cheese have been the standard toppings for hot dogs and sausages for far too long. It’s time to switch up your go-to garnishes and get a little creative at the grill.
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Maybe you’ve topped your hot dog with coleslaw when you were feeling a little adventurous, but this spin on slaw will take your dog to the next level. This Asian-inspired slaw is little sweet from the addition of soy and a little punchy from the rice vinegar and ginger — think less creamy, more crunchy.
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While bacon may have had its 15 minutes of fame, it’s still a staple topping that can amp up any dish, and the hot dog is no different. Just wrap your dog in a strip of bacon and secure each end with a toothpick that has been soaked in water to prevent it from burning on the grill. Grill as you normally would and enjoy the pork-on-pork glory of your hot dog.
This hot dog takes inspiration from another well-loved meal-in-a-bun: the banh mi sandwich, a Vietnamese sandwich that traditionally includes a pork pâté and quick-pickled vegetables. In this version, the hot dog stands in for the pâté, and is topped with pickled daikon and carrot, a sprig of cilantro, and a swipe of sriracha-spiked mayo for good measure.
Thanks to the chili cheese dog, we already know that melted Cheddar does well when added to a hot dog. Why not keep the melted cheese and bump up the flavor with crumbled nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips and sliced jalapeños? It’s all the nacho flavors you love, delivered on a single bun.
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Take your hot dog on a tropical vacation by topping it with grilled pineapple, mangos, and bright green onions. Simply grill your pineapple and mango while grilling your hot dogs, then dice the fruit and julienne the green onions. Top the hot dog with the grilled fruit and green onions, and pretend your cookout is actually on the beach.
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Taking the cheese on your hot dog to the next level, macaroni and cheese also brings back a bit of childhood nostalgia when you top your franks with it. Remember when Mom mixed sliced franks into your childhood mac and cheese? And the best part is the melty macaroni and cheese can work double time — both as a side and as a hot dog topping — at your next cookout.
Muffaletta sandwiches, though perhaps lesser known to many than the other inspiration dishes on this list, are delicious, towering sandwiches with Italian origins. Muffaletta sandwiches are often topped with giardiniera, Italian pickled vegetables usually consisting of shredded carrot and celery, mixed with roasted red peppers, pickled onions, and pepperoncini. This giardiniera makes the perfect transition from sandwich to hot dog topping, ushering in flavors similar to a Chicago-style dog.
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When you think about it, tacos and hot dogs aren’t so different. They’re both meat wrapped in carbs with infinite topping possibilities! So why not take a little inspiration from your taco Tuesday nights and top your hot dog with slices of avocado or a spoonful of guacamole and some sour cream? While it sounds a little out there, the result is creamy and refreshing — perfect for a hot summer evening.
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This might be the easiest topping suggestion of the whole group — just bake your childhood-favorite tots in the oven, then use them to top your hot dog for a crunchy, filling change of pace. Tots do even better when paired with a chili cheese dog and a dash of hot sauce.