This classic dog hit the spot with testers, who pronounced it extra-juicy and delicious. The best part? “The subtle hit of heat from the paprika.”
To buy: $4.50 for 16 ounces (8 dogs).
2 of 7 Charles Masters
Best Pork and Beef
Boar’s Head Pork & Beef Frankfurters
The slightly sweet bologna-like flavor of this “perfectly plump” winner will delight kids. “Love the smooth texture and pink color,” declared a fan of the hefty links.
To buy: $5 for 16 ounces (8 dogs).
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Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs
This uncured (meaning largely nitrate-free) pick is made from grass-fed beef. Its firm skin offers a satisfying snap with every bite. One staffer cheered, “This would hit the spot at a ball game.”
To buy: $7 for 12 ounces (8 dogs).
4 of 7 Charles Masters
Oscar Mayer Turkey Franks
“I can’t believe this is turkey,” said a tester of this health-conscious option. “With ketchup and mustard it tastes just like beef or pork.” “Love the ultra-smokiness,” said another.
To buy: $2.70 for 16 ounces (10 dogs).
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Applegate Farms Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs
This low-fat hot dog has a “nice, clean flavor,” noted a panelist. “It would be great with sauerkraut.” Bonus: The dogs develop excellent grill marks.
To buy: $5 for 12 ounces (8 dogs).
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Morningstar Farms Original Veggie Dogs
The mixture of corn, soy, eggs, and “a yummy hint of garlic” made this a hit among the panel’s herbivores. “I’d eat it with chopped onions and relish.”
To buy: $4.30 for 11.2 ounces (8 dogs), sold in the freezer section.
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Are Hot Dogs Bad for You?
You often hear about nitrates in hot dogs. So what are they? Nitrites and nitrates are compounds added to hot dogs and cured meats to extend their shelf life and improve color. They occur naturally in some vegetables, like spinach and root vegetables.
Are they bad for you? Potentially yes, say experts. Once digested, nitrites and nitrates can form nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer in test animals. To reduce this risk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires hot-dog makers to add antioxidants, like vitamin C, to their products.
How can I make a hot-dog meal healthier? Anyone with a hot-dog habit (say, one or more a week) should try pairing the hot dogs with an antioxidant-rich food, like tomatoes, or vitamin C–packed orange juice. Or opt for uncured dogs instead.