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The 6 Best Hot Dog Topping Alternatives You Need to Try

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We may have entered the final months of summer and some are already gearing up for fall, but that doesn’t mean grilling season is over. It just means we’re morphing into a new season — tailgating time. That’s right, no matter if you’re tailgating out of the back of your truck or the trunk of your car, there are still some great ways you can show off some culinary skills.

Hot dogs can be prepared 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 pregame.

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The Classic Chicago Dog

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.

The New York Dog

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

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 2 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.

The Frito Pie Chili Dog

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.

The Carolina Hot Dog

A hotdog with coleslaw, onions, and chili next to mustard dressing on 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.

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.

Read more: Best Grills

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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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