closeup of hot dogs on a grill

Enhance Your Grilled Hot Dogs with Upgraded Ingredients and Seasonings

Hot dogs were once popularly referred to as tube steaks, a fitting term for the umami-rich, smoky flavor they get from the grill. While throwing a package of franks onto the grill will improve their flavor, you can take another lesson from the tube steak reference by flavoring them with steak seasoning.

Steak seasoning is a pantry ingredient that will enhance hot dogs’ meatiness and the smoky flavors imparted by the grill. The most straightforward way to apply steak seasoning is by sprinkling it over a split hot dog right before throwing it on the grill. You can make a long vertical incision, spiral incisions, or various horizontal incisions down the length of the hot dog. These incisions penetrate the hot dog casing, allowing the dry powdered seasoning to cling to the moist, fatty meat inside. Plus, the exposed meat crisps up, providing an even tastier texture. Another method is to roll hot dogs in oil, then a hearty helping of steak seasoning. The oil will keep the hot dogs tender and juicy. You could also add a tangy element to grilled hot dogs with a vinaigrette or store-bought bottle of Italian salad dressing.

Another way to add steak seasoning is to create a marinade for your hot dogs. A popular marinating liquid for brats is beer; boil hot dogs in beer with steak seasoning and a few bay leaves to infuse them before throwing them on the grill for a charred finish. 

How to spruce up your seasoned hot dogs

grilled hot dog in a bun with condiments

The most common ingredients in steak seasoning are salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, and some brands also include MSG for the ultimate umami enhancement. A steak seasoned, grilled hot dog is extra meaty and extra smoky with salt and pepper bringing out that flavor duo even more. The simplicity of steak seasoning also makes it a versatile flavor enhancer to pair with a wide range of toppings and condiments. 

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If you’re a fan of Chicago-style hot dogs, a smoky, aromatic steak-seasoned hot dog will work well with the nuttiness of a poppy seed bun while a dill pickle spear and diced white onion and tomatoes will provide crunch, tanginess, and freshness to round out the flavor profile. Steak seasoning will also provide your grilled hot dog with a robust flavor that won’t get lost under heavier meaty garnishes like this chili cheese dog or this bacon crunch hot dog topped with creamy, zippy coleslaw. The smoky paprika and char from the grill will pair well with sweet and sour pickle relish, pickled jalapeños, and pickled red onions. Or, you could put a Southern twist on your steak-seasoned hot dog by slathering on pimento cheese and topping it with pickled sweet cherry peppers.

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