There are few foods more American than the Hot Dog. There's a reason it's the favorite food of America's Pastime - it's hearty, greasy, and always delicious. In recent years, however, we've begun to think that Hot Dogs must be cooked on a grill, or that boiling your Hot Dogs is an inferior method of cooking. But, if you open your heart (and stomach) for the next five minutes, then you'll see that you don't have to miss out when you can't pull out the grill, and that boiling your Hot Dogs is just as delicious as grilling them. Here's my comprehensive guide on how to boil hot dogs.

The Dog

The most important decision you can make when cooking a hot dog is what type of hot dog to use. While this is largely up to personal preference - some people prefer kosher dogs while others enjoy all beef franks - you should always choose bun length dogs, especially when boiling them. When cooked on a grill, the biggest difference between classic and bun length hot dogs is that bun length hot dogs tend to become thinner as the dogs cook. When boiling hot dogs, the danger of choosing bun length goes away because your hot dogs will not shrink in the boiling water. Below is a picture depicting the striking difference in size between classic (left) and bun length (right).

Stephen Yachuw

The Set Up

You'll need a medium to large pot, filled about three fourths of the way with water. If you overfill the pot, the water could spill out onto the burner and set off your building's fire alarm. Obviously, the more dogs you want to cook at one time, the larger a pot you should use. I was only cooking for a few people so the pot I used was relatively small, but I would almost always recommend using something bigger than this.

Stephen Yachuw

During this time, you should also poke holes up and down the entire length of every hot dog you intend on cooking. This helps prevent them from popping open while cooking, which is a very real, and scary, possibility. I also like to set out all of my supplies beforehand, this way we can get to the eating faster. I'll show you what I did to customize the hot dogs later.

Stephen Yachuw

The Process

Now, before dropping in the hot dogs, you need to bring the water to a rolling boil. This is just when the water is boiling at such a high temperature the the bubbles produced are rather large and violent. If all you see are tiny little bubbles, you may want to turn up your heat and wait a second more.

Stephen Yachuw

After it is at a rolling boil, and your hot dogs are prepped, you can drop them in. They won't change color too much when they're done, so how long you cook them is up to personal preference. I prefer them steaming hot so I always cook them for a minimum of seven minutes, but if you don't like your hot dogs scalding, you can cook them for less time. Also, don't be afraid if the hot dog looks like it puffed up, this is perfectly normal and doesn't affect the taste at all.

Stephen Yachuw

Tips for Customizing Your Dogs

 Once your dogs are all cooked, you are ready for customization. Have fun with this! Every time I cook hot dogs, I try a new style from across the U.S. This time it was Detroit style, but there are tons of different types to choose from. Here's an article from Real Simple with a few easy styles of hot dog.

One thing I always recommend is toasting the bun. All you need is some butter and a frying pan. The process is just like making a grilled cheese sandwich; you butter both sides of the inside of the bun, and you put it butter side down on a frying pan on high heat until it is golden brown. Be careful using white bread when toasting the buns, it tends to squish down while cooking whereas potato rolls and denser breads do not.


With these tips and tricks there's no need to worry about grilling ever again. Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but boiling hot dogs has ever been easier, or more delicious. Remember to have fun with it, and enjoy!