Unless you’re at a ball game, a barbecue, or some hipster food truck, eating a hot dog (especially if boiled, or worse, microwaved) is one of those serious dinnertime “rock bottom” moments. But it doesn’t need to be that way, because even the precooked, prepackaged hot dog can take nicely to some slight upgrades. (And, bonus, you won’t even need a grill for these.)
Phase 1: Spice it up
To kick up your hot dog toppings quickly, mix a tad of harissa paste with your plain old ketchup for an extra kick. The result is a hot dog with way more flavor and you feeling like you actually made dinner, when you really just microwaved it.
Phase 2: Butter, not boil
Make a few diagonal cuts in the dogs, then sear them in a pan on the stove with a pat of butter. It won’t have the exact same smoky taste as a traditional grill, but the cuts will allow the hot dogs to pick up that extra buttery flavor, and a bit of char from the pan will do in a pinch. You may even start daydreaming of summer barbecues.
Phase 3: Don’t count calories
This may sound a bit extreme, but one of the best toppings for a hot dog is actually another item from this list, says Chef Keith Williamson, of Tampa’s Datz, a deli turned gastropub. It’s mac & cheese. He serves a similar item at Datz, called the MacDill Dog, but tops it with jalapeno and bacon, too.