Big Little Recipes

Sprinkle These Hot Dog Crispies on Anything Salad-ish

August 25, 2020

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Hot dogs go by many names, including, but not limited to, frankfurter, frank, wiener dog, wiener, and, ahem, weenie. But what’s in a name? And what’s in a hot dog?

A frankfurter—like andouille and chorizo and kielbasa—is a sausage. Highly seasoned and fully cooked are a given. The meat, however, can vary by brand (Hebrew National is all-beef, while Oscar Meyer’s “classic uncured” includes turkey, chicken, and pork).

The term hot dog most likely refers to the sandwich, featuring a soft, squishy bun and boiled, grilled, or griddled frank, squiggled with mustard, polka-dotted with relish, or whatever the dealer’s choice of toppings may be. That said, hot dog could also refer to the sausage itself.

Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.

Which is to say, the bun is optional. But, you know, not really. Would this scene from Father of the Bride have happened if buns weren’t part of the deal? Or this scene from Grease? And what about the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest? Last month, Joey Chestnut ate 75 hot dogs! Which is to say he ate 75 hot dog buns!

Luckily, this is not a hot dog eating contest, it’s a recipe column—and we get to make our own rules. And this week, we’re ditching the buns.

Because once you start treating a hot dog less as a predetermined sandwich and more as an anything-goes sausage, the possibilities become endless. Just think of all of the dishes that sausage guest-stars in: stuffing, pasta, stuffed mushrooms, lentil soup, yada yada.

Here, thanks to their trusty sidekick, the grill, humble hot dogs transform into a habit-forming topping. The trick is to butterfly and score the weenies so, once they hit the heat, they go from crisp to crispy to crispier. Transfer to a cutting board, chop into bacon bit–sized pieces, and shower these all over something salad-ish.

Maybe it’s a blue cheese–dressed iceberg wedge or vinegared tomatoes or roasted broccoli. Here, I went with grilled romaine, decorated with diced dill pickles and a yellow mustard–pickle brine vinaigrette.

So tell me, what will you sprinkle hot dog crispies on first?

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Karen February 13, 2021
I made this (yes we have a foot of snow on the ground) on the grill and instead of pickles I used sauerkraut juice and crisped the sauerkraut itself along with the hot dogs and put that on top. This very simple recipe has my mind flying with other ingredients I can use. Thank you so much for sharing!
Jen D. August 30, 2020
Very, very excited about this!
Tim Y. August 28, 2020
Please never say "hot dog crispies" ever again...