10 Ways to Trick Out Your Hot Dog

Photo © Anthony Tahlier

Cincinnati chef Daniel Wright is on a mission to transform the classic hot dog from hum-drum to extraordinary at his restaurant Senate, where the dogs are adorned with ingredients like goat cheese, bacon and “tons of drama” (the Lindsay Lohan dog) and wasabi peas (the Hello Kitty 2.0 dog). Here, he shares ten super simple ways to make a hot dog into a masterpiece:

1. Break cultural boundaries. Wasabi or kimchi? Salsa or chutney? Make it interesting by adding a topping you wouldn’t usually find at your run-of-the-mill backyard barbecue.

2. Experiment with texture. As a kid I loved to smash chips on my sandwiches, so why not crush them over a dog? But don’t stop there: You can use tortillas, pretzels or your favorite BBQ chips.

3. Score your dogs. Make a small incision in an X pattern on the both ends of your dogs; this will add crunch when grilled.

4. Pickles, pickles, pickles. You can never get enough pickles. Whether they’re on the dog or chopped up and mixed in a remoulade, you can’t wrong.

5. Beer cheese. It’s as easy as beer + cheese. Slowly melt equal parts beer and cheese together and you’ve a dangerously good hot dog topping.

6. Play with your condiments. There’s nothing wrong with mixing the right condiments together. (How do you think honey mustard was invented?) Sriracha + mayonnaise, apple cider + Dijon mustard, chipotle + ketchup, peanut butter + sweet chili sauce… Don’t be afraid to experiment.

7. Cream Cheese. Cream cheese & miso. Cream cheese & bacon. Cream cheese & grilled scallions. Cream cheese & caviar. What doesn’t go with cream cheese?

8. Smoke ‘em if you got 'em. There’s really nothing better than a smoked dog. Instead of firing them on direct heat, turn the heat down on your grill, place the dogs away from the heat and smoke them slowly. It’ll give them a totally different dimension.

9. Butter your buns. Buttering and toasting hot dog buns completely changes the game.

10. Guacamole. When in doubt, slather it on.

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