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The 8 best hot dog topping alternatives you need to try

Forget the mustard and sauerkraut, try these creative toppings instead

Three hot dogs with different topppings
Kajakiki / Getty Images

Summer will be here before we know it, so that means grilling season has almost arrived. Whether you have backyard barbecues, like to picnic at the barbecue pit in the park, or just want to harken back to your youth with hot dogs, why not get creative with some alternative hot dog toppings?

Our best alternative toppings for your dogs

You can prepare your hot dogs by steaming, boiling, or grilling, but that doesn’t mean the toppings have to be mustard only — and no, we don’t put ketchup on hot dogs. We’re going to take a look at some of the most creative hot dog toppings out there that are sure to up your hot dog game.

Classic Chicago dogs

The Chicago dog with poppy seed bun

These hot dog toppings always will be a staple. The Vienna Beef hot dog reached Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and the Chicago Dog was invented in 1929 at a stand named Fluky’s. The hot dog was originally called the Depression Sandwich. The Chicago-style dog features a poppy seed bun with an all-beef frank topped with mustard, white onions, dark green sweet pickle relish, sliced tomato, sport peppers, a dill pickle spear, and celery salt. If you don’t have the celery salt, that is passable, but you definitely can’t have a Chicago dog without the remaining ingredients.

New York dogs

A hot dog with white onions, mustard, and sauerkraut on a white background
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The New York-style hot dog is an all-beef hot dog that is topped with mustard (typically yellow or brown mustard), warm sauerkraut, and chopped white onions. German immigrants sold their version of hot dogs out of carts during the 1860s. These hot dogs are prepared by cooking the hot dogs directly in the sauerkraut and its juices. Then you place the hot dog in the bun, top it with mustard, the cooked sauerkraut, and finish it off with chopped onions.

Mexican street corn hot dogs

Hand holding Mexican street style corn cilantro and cheese on hotdog on a teal background
The popular street food known as Elote adds an extra level of flavor to your grilled hot dogs. Simply grill a few ears of corn alongside your hot dogs. Once the corn is heated through, shave the corn kernels into a bowl, add some mayonnaise, chopped cilantro, chopped serrano or jalapeno peppers, some cotija cheese, and sprinkle some chili powder in. Give it a good stir, and then add it to your grilled hot dog. Now you have two different street food items combined into one for a wonderful crunch and flavor.

Grilled cheese hot dogs

Perhaps known as one of the best meals when you aren’t feeling well, or it’s a rainy day, the grilled cheese sandwich is at the top of that list. Now imagine if you took some shredded cheddar cheese and melted it onto the grilled hot dog and bun. You have the grilled cheese sandwich meets grilled hot dog and your cheese pull game will never be the same. The ooey-gooey cheesy flavor will take you away from the rainy day blues.

Frito Pie chili dogs

Another favorite is the Frito Pie version of the hot dog. If you are unfamiliar with Frito Pie, it also goes by the name the Walking Taco. Either way, do yourself a favor and find one in your area — they’re delicious! If you can’t find any in your area, never fear, they are super-easy to create. Boil or grill your hot dog, place it in the bun, and add chili con carne, Frito chips, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced jalapenos, and chopped white onions. Be forewarned, though — these are messy, so make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand.

Carolina hot dogs

A hot dog with coleslaw, onions, and chili next to mustard dressing on a white background
Image used with permission by copyright holder

North and South Carolina have a set list of ingredients for hamburgers and hot dogs. The Carolina-style hot dog is a hot dog bun and hot dog that is topped with chili with meat, chopped onions, and coleslaw, and sometimes mustard. The chili is typically prepared with ground beef and beans. Carolina coleslaw is a vinegar-based slaw that accents the deep rich flavors of the chili. Throw it all together and you have the perfect combination of a hearty and mildly spicy chili stew and crunchy coleslaw with a light vinegar flavor.

Buffalo chicken dogs

This hot dog combines the flavors of the beloved buffalo chicken wing with the classic hot dog. Add the shredded chicken on to your dog and then the key ingredient: buffalo sauce. The spicy vinegar-based sauce with cayenne pepper gives the dish its signature kick. Then top it off with crumbled blue cheese for a creamy and tangy contrast, chopped scallions for a bit of bite, and a drizzle of ranch dressing to cool things down a bit. This hot dog is dressed up in all the delicious elements of buffalo wings.

Avocado crema hot dogs

This is another Mexican-style hot dog topping, but it’s quite a bit different from the one above. It gives your dog a cool and refreshing topping. For the avocado crema, blend avocado with some kind of cream, like sour cream. Add the cotija cheese, and finally, top it off with a squeeze of lime.

There are plenty of combinations you can work with but the star of the show is always the hot dog. Make sure you pick up some quality hot dogs brands, after all, your meals are only as good as the products you use.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Morales
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Joe Morales is a trained chef with over five years of experience working in fine dining and Michelin recommended restaurants…
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