Can we be honest? Hot dogs don't exactly thrill us. Maybe we’d be more excited to see them at the barbecue if we dressed them in something other than ketchup, mustard and relish. This summer, we’re mixing things up. The next time you grill a few franks (or hey, boil them on the stove), keep the usual condiments in the fridge and go for one of these 10 over-the-top combos. They’re a little unconventional as far as hot dog toppings go, but all of them use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Plus, they’ll surprise all your barbecue guests at first sight—and even more so once they take a bite. So, grab some dogs and some buns (we’re suckers for potato) and let’s do this thing.
1. The Veggie Melt
A simple addition that goes a long way. The best part? The blanket of melted cheese will keep the vegetables in place as you eat. Bye-bye, mess.
Place a hot dog in a bun and top with ¼ cup grilled veggies and 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese. Place the whole thing (bun and all) on the grill or under the broiler until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. We used bell peppers and onions, but feel free to mix it up with spinach, corn or coleslaw.
2. The Crunch Dog
You’ve treated your cheeseburger to a few crinkle-cut potato chips before. Why not your weenie? Dress it up in any flavor you’re craving, from barbecue to jalapeño to sour cream and onion. We like using kettle-cooked chips for an extra crackly crunch.
Place a hot dog in a bun and spread 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard across the top. Top with ¼ cup crushed kettle-cooked potato chips. If Dijon is too spicy for your taste, substitute honey mustard.
3. The Mexi
We’re ready to wash down two with an extra-salty margarita. These toppings are a combination as old as time, but they bring complexity, spice and creaminess to this summer delicacy. We won’t judge if you crumble a few tortilla chips on top.
Spread 2 tablespoons guacamole on one side of the bun and 1 tablespoon sour cream on the other. Place a hot dog in the center. Top with a few shakes of hot sauce.
4. The Spicy Dog
Some like it hot. If that someone is you, you’re in for a fiery treat. This dog offers a one-two punch of acidity and heat thanks to briny pickled veggies and Sriracha. Any pickled vegetables will work (we used carrots and red onions), so peruse the deli or canned-goods section at the supermarket to find some you like.
Place a hot dog in a bun and top with ¼ cup pickled vegetables. Top with 1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha (or more, to taste).
5. The Brekkie
Why does lunchtime get to have all the frankfurter-filled fun? We’re piling ours high for breakfast instead. We used crispy bacon bits, but you can mix it up with crumbled breakfast sausage or Taylor ham (uh…pork roll) instead. Add a runny egg to take it over the top.
Place a hot dog in a bun and top with 3 tablespoons cooked, crumbled bacon. Top with a fried egg and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. The Banh Mi
Traditional pork belly takes a back seat to a grilled dog, which is then topped with all the crunchy bits that make its Vietnamese namesake sandwich so amazing. We’ll take extra peanuts, please.
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 tablespoons vinegar and ½ teaspoon sugar. Shred ½ a carrot and ½ a red onion and add them to the mixture. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Combine 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and Sriracha to taste in a bowl. Spread the spicy mayo on both sides of a hot dog bun. Place a hot dog in the bun and top with the pickled veggies, thin-sliced English cucumber, cilantro and peanuts to taste.
7. The Hawaiian
Still haven’t booked that trip to Maui? This should hold you over. Make sure you have your best spatula at the ready; your grill will be hard at work charring both the hot dogs and pineapple. Add cayenne to the pineapple for some extra spice.
Toss pineapple slices in vegetable oil and grill for 2 minutes on each side. Spread 1 tablespoon of honey mustard on a bun. Put a hot dog in the bun and top it with the grilled pineapple. Finish with sliced jalapeño and pickled relish to taste.
8. The Mac and Cheese
Remember eating bowls of boxed macaroni and cheese with sliced-up hot dogs in it as a kid? This is the same idea, only the hot dog gets to be the star. And you don’t need a fork to eat it, which is always a plus in our book. We have a feeling this one’s a no-brainer for your kids.
Make a batch of boxed mac and cheese according to package directions (or try our one-pot mac and cheese recipe on for size). Put a hot dog in a bun and top with a layer of mac and cheese. Drizzle with ketchup for extra nostalgia.
9. The Seattle
We’re hitting the west coast for this game day go-to. Sautéed onions and cream cheese are signature to the style, but we’re taking it up a notch with fresh jalapeño slices, sauerkraut and ketchup. You can even mix some crumbled bacon into the cream cheese (!!!). We won’t tell your trainer.
Heat a large skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter. Once it’s hot, sauté ½ sliced yellow onion until it’s caramelized, about 10-15 minutes on low heat. In the meantime, spread 1-2 tablespoons cream cheese on one side of a hot dog bun depending on your preference. Spread 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut on the other side of the hot dog bun. Add onions to taste to either side. Place a hot dog in the bun and top with jalapeños and ketchup to taste.
10. The Poutine
Yup, we invited Canada to the cookout. If you’ve never had poutine before, it’s basically a pile of fries drenched in brown gravy and sprinkled with cheese curds. Want to skip the whole cheese-curd business? Give it a disco-fry spin and substitute sliced mozzarella or white cheddar cheese instead.
Bake store-bought frozen French fries according to package instructions (or make your own). Prepare a packet of store-bought brown gravy according to package instructions. Place a hot dog in a bun and top with as many fries as you’d like. Drizzle on brown gravy to taste and top with ¼ cup cheese curds.