8 Competition-Worthy Hot Dogs Ready for the Fourth

July  3, 2018

I don’t tell a lot of people this, but I’ve won a hot dog eating contest. While recording a podcast years ago, competitive eater Crazy Legs Conti taught me three different methods to break down the dogs, dipping the buns in water (soaked buns squish more easily). By the end of our lesson, I inhaled 3 hot dogs in 2 minutes, finishing just seconds before my competition coworker. It wasn’t pretty.

Conti told me competitive eaters don’t look at food the same way as those of us who aren’t timed. They’re calculating exactly how long it takes to transport fork to mouth, then how many chews per mouthful. It’s more science than art.

Despite my glorious victory, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the competitive circuit. Instead, I’m content to consume my meals slowly, appreciating the taste and textures of each bite. Here, I’ve gathered 8 flavor-packed hot dogs that’ll taste delicious no matter how fast you eat them.

Plot twist! Crisp up your dog with a spiral cut, then dress it as a Buffalo-style “firecracker.” (That's basted with hot sauce and topped with celery, carrot, red onion, blue cheese, and a creamy, spicy mayo.)

QueenSashy's uncanny 'kraut concoction takes hot dogs to another level: "Not quite mustard, not quite chutney, not quite anything, just a bunch of plain old onions pretending to be sauerkraut in an attempt to connect the dots."

Not all hot dogs need ketchup (although, totally fine if that's your jam). This Mediterranean take combines creamy yogurt sauce with the bright bite of lemon and feta. Yes, please.

Why settle for one when you can have a three-meat chili? Bacon, beef, and chorizo make this topper a summertime staple.

Another twist on the chili dog. Forgo the bun and dress your dog with cornbread. This salty-sweet meal makes a filling dinner.

Few things in life are better than a hot dog on a stick that's been deep-fried in a cornmeal batter. Oh, and hot tip: Placing the batter in a tall glass or jar is the easiest way to get your dogs completely coated.

Fancy up your dog with the the crunch of cucumbers, pickled carrots, and roasted peanuts. And don't you dare forget the baguette!

Okay, technically not a hot dog. But fresh sausages like bratwurst are just as great between buns. In this recipe, grilling guru Paula Disbrowe poaches her brats in beer before grilling to keep them juicy and infused with flavor.

Or savor this summertime classic

Have you ever entered an eating competition? What's your strategy?

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.