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Hot Dog Toppings

Take the stress out of summertime entertaining with a (pretty inspired, if we may say so ourselves) hot dog toppings bar.


6 hot dogs with a variety of toppings

Stop Sweating It & Just Make Hot Dogs

Today's post isn't a recipe so much as a reason to throw a really great backyard party. What’s easier than grilling some hot dogs on a hot summer night? Nothing, that’s what. They feed a crowd quickly and easily, and basically no one says no to a hot dog. You can keep them on hand for spontaneous drop ins, last-minute BBQs, for that porch drink that turns into dinner and a backyard hang. For anything! Talk about the perfect entertaining food! Hot dogs with ketchup and mustard are totally fine—they even really hit the spot sometimes—but putting together a hot dog bar is not too much more work and it makes any gathering feel a little more like a real party! It’s a great way to make the humble hot dog into a legit celebration food. For easy summer entertaining, the hot dog toppings bar cannot be beat!

6 hot dogs with a variety of toppings
Hot Dog Toppings

What Do You Need for a Hot Dog Bar?

If you aren’t familiar with the genius of the hot dog bar, let us fill you in! First, get yourself some great hot dogs—don’t skimp and buy subpar hot dogs, they are the star of the show. Try asking your favorite local butcher for really good hot dogs if you really want to go all out, or just grab the best (All Beef) you can get at the grocery store. Since you’re cooking for a crowd, get some veggie dogs, too! That way you’ll feel certain that most everyone will be able to enjoy the hot dog bar. Grill them up beautifully, plop them in a sturdy bun, and your work is done. Here’s where the hot dog bar comes in—guests can take their fresh-off-the-grill hot dog over to a table loaded with toppings and they can dive in and go nuts! You can probably even make a hot dog bar out of random topping-esque things you have in the pantry, but we’ve got a few of our favorite hot dog topping ideas to get you started:

  • The I Wish We Were in Hawaii Hot Dog! Grilled pineapple, red onions, and teriyaki sauce.

  • The Italian-American Hot Dog! Grilled onions and bell peppers, ketchup, and pepperoncinis.

  • The I Wish We Were in Mexico Hot Dog! Grilled corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, and mayo.

  • The Chicago Dog! Pickled peppers, diced tomatoes, yellow mustard, and chopped onions.

  • The Deli Dog. Sauerkraut, curry mustard (stir together a little curry powder + Dijon mustard), and everything bagel seasoning.

  • The Banh-Mi-But-Make-It-A-Hot Dog Dog. Sriracha mayo (literally just stir together sriracha and mayo), jalapeño, pickled carrots, and cilantro.

6 hot dogs with a variety of toppings

A Perfectly Grilled Hot Dog, Made Even Better

The beauty of a hot dog bar is that you can use anything in your fridge, chop it up and instantly come up with a new flavor profile for what was once a boring hot dog. Avocados? Perfect. Sun dried tomatoes and basil? Amazing. Cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon and green onion? Umm...yeah…all day long! Seriously you cannot lose here folks. There will always be someone who wants just regular old ketchup and mustard—particularly if your backyard BBQ includes members of the under 5 set—so be sure to stock the classics, too. So, what toppings go on hot dogs? The list is truly endless, but here are even more ideas to play around with. You can mix and match, or keep it simple. Actually, you don’t have to do anything—all you have to do is have a well-stocked fridge / pantry, and lay the various toppings that you’ve got on hand on a big table. The fun of a hot dog bar is that your guests get to do all of the mixing and matching. Heck, someone could make themselves a peanut butter and pickle hot dog and we say go for it! Live it up! There are no wrong hot dogs. Here are some more topping ideas:

  • BBQ sauce! Any kind will do.

  • Chili + hot dog = chili dogs!

  • Nacho cheese (this vegan cheese sauce slathered on a veggie dog would make a super vegan hot dog!)

  • Coleslaw. Grab the avocado-lime coleslaw from this recipe for an extra special riff on a coleslaw-topped hot dog.

  • Cheese. Just cheese, any cheese. Shredded. And lots of it.

  • BLT Dog. Bacon, lettuce, tomato on a hot dog. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds. Don’t skimp on the mayo!

  • Bacon. Just bacon. Well, maybe some mayo, too.

6 hot dogs with a variety of toppings
Hawaiian hot dog with grilled pineapple teriyaki sauce Mexican Street Corn hot dog cotija cheese, cilantro, and mayo Bahn Mi

Side Dishes for a Hot Dog Bar

With hot dogs as loaded as these, you barely need to offer a side dish. But it’s probably nice to have one or two things for people who want a little balance in their lives. Here are some side dishes that are perfect for summer:

hot dog topping bar with a variety of toppings
hot dog topping ideas

Tools You’ll Need

The Mexican Street Corn grilled corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, and mayo

Hot Dog Bars All Summer Long!

This time of year we just want to live outside, surrounded by friends and good food. But, also, we’d like to simultaneously be as lazy as humanly possible. Hot dog bars are one of those magical things that allow us to live both dreams at once! If you try serving hot dogs in this super fun, convivial way, let us know how it goes, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Hot Dog Toppings

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  • VAvoter

    I love this site! So many good recipe ideas to try.