Hot Diggity Dog! We’ve compiled our picks for the best hot dogs in the world. This tasty list includes American hot dogs plus hot dogs from countries as far away as Japan and as close as Canada.
Our passion for hot dogs is non-discriminatory.
We love hot dogs grilled at cookouts and hot dogs sold at food carts. We love hot dogs topped with simple condiments, hot dogs topped with chili and hot dogs topped with everything except the kitchen sink.
We love hot dogs made with beef and pork as well as hot dogs made with non-traditional proteins. And, not to be corny, we also love hot dogs coated with cornbread and served on a stick.
It’s not just us. Hot dogs are such a symbol of America that the 1970s jingle about ‘baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet’ doesn’t seem ironic despite the fact that neither hot dogs nor apple pie were invented in the USA.
Yes. Hot dogs have a German past that probably began in Frankfurt, hence the hot dog’s other name – frankfurter. And, while hot dogs are an American food favorite, they’re equally popular in other countries around the world. Alas, we can’t say the same about baseball.
Don’t discount hot dogs if you follow a vegetarian, vegan or halal diet. Instead, join the global hot dog party by eating a meat-free hot dog made of soy or another plant-based product.
Our Favorite Hot Dogs Around The World
We love hot dogs and have found many of them during our travels. Or maybe they found us.
Not surprisingly, we’ve eaten great hot dogs in America (our homeland), Germany (the hot dog’s homeland) and Portugal (our current home base). But we’ve also eaten great hot dogs in countries like Japan and Italy.
We get that loving hot dogs isn’t necessarily the most trendy passion in the world but we don’t care. We’ll keep eating and photographing wonderful wieners and fabulous franks during our travels anyway. These are our favorites hot dogs so far:
Classic Hot Dog (Everywhere)
Classic hot dogs make us both happy whether they’re made of beef or pork and especially when they have toppings like relish and diced onions. However, we agree to disagree when it comes to condiments – Daryl is adamant that mustard is the only appropriate classic hot dog topping while Mindi likes to add ketchup to the mix.
We learned that the French agree with Mindi when we ate a fantastic classic hot dog at JANET by Homer in Paris. Not only was the beef wiener topped with relish and onion, but it also had both ketchup and mustard. Daryl gave the kitchen a mulligan in light of the hot dog’s beautifully diced onion and brioche bun.
Discover more great food in Paris.
New York Hot Dog (USA)
Eating a hot dog in New York is a rite of passage for most visitors to the Big Apple regardless of budget. But why? For starters, the New York hot dog ranks with New York pizza as one of the city’s best cheap eats options. It’s also one of the city’s most iconic foods.
New York locals typically top their hot dogs with mustard, relish and occasionally sauerkraut. We tend to do the same when we eat hot dogs in the Big Apple.
The hot dog’s icon status is nothing new. Charles Feltman opened world-famous Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island in the 19th century after immigrating from Germany while Paul Gray opened local favorite Gray’s Papaya in 1973. Both operations are still going strong though, in terms of ubiquity, they pale in comparison to the thousands of carts that sell ‘dirty water’ dogs in all five boroughs.
Original Hot Dog (Germany)
New Yorkers may have made hot dogs iconic but Germans get credit for creating the hot dog concept. This should be no surprise considering Germany’s obsession for sausages that includes bockwurst, landjáger, leberkäse, knackwurst, thüringer, weisswurst and wollwurst. And, of course, we can’t forget the frankfurter since it’s the most relevant sausage of them all.
The Frankfurt airport has numerous frankfurter stands. When we first flew through Frankfurt in 2007, it took us a few minutes to make the connection.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Germany’s frankfurter has conquered the world since it’s the sausage most typically used to make hot dogs. It also fits into a bun as smooth as butter. However, we don’t recommend topping frankfurters with butter. Mustard and ketchup are much better hot dog condiments (though ketchup is questionable in some countries).
Discover more great food in Germany.
Chicago-Style Hot Dog (USA)
With roots in both Frankfurt and Vienna, Chicago-style hot dogs are made with beef and adorned with a garden of toppings and not just any garden. This colorful garden includes yellow mustard, white onions, green peppers, green pickles, red tomatoes and relish so green that its shade defies science. A dash of celery salt completes the recipe.
Ketchup not a typical hot dog topping in Chicago.
Also called Chicago red hots, Chicago hot dogs are typically steam boiled before they’re ‘dragged through the garden’. Originally sold for a nickel during the depression, this iconic Chicago food now costs more than 100 times that original price (ouch!) and often comes with fries (yay!).
Red Hot Dog (Denmark)
Danes love eating hot dogs on the go as much as they love dining large at top restaurants. They’ve certainly been eating hot dogs for a longer period of time – gastro pioneer Noma opened in 2003 while the Danish love for Rød Pølser (i.e. red hot dogs) dates back centuries.
Like New Yorkers and Chicagoans, Danes have unique hot dog rituals. They generally buy hog dogs at pølsevogns (i.e. sausage wagons) or at 7-Eleven. They then top their skinny red hot dogs with sliced pickles, onions (both fried and raw) and remoulade. Sometimes they add ketchup and mustard too.
Discover more great food in Denmark.
Charbroiled Hot Dog (USA)
While most people associate buffalo wings with Buffalo, true hot dog fans know that the upstate New York city has another fast food trick up its sleeve – charbroiling hot dogs and topping them with pickles.
Charbroiling hot dogs in Buffalo became a thing almost a century ago when Greek immigrant Theodore Spiro Liaros opened the original Ted’s Hot Dogs stand in 1927. It also became a Buffalo thing to top charbroiled hot dogs with toppings like pickle slices, hot sauce and onion rings.
Discover where to eat in Buffalo.
Proving that not all hot dogs are served on a bun, the popular German snack called Currywurst tops sliced wurst with tangy tomato sauce and spicy curry powder. Though the combination sounds weird to many, the dish has grown into a German classic that’s available from dawn to dawn in cities like Hamburg and Berlin.
It’s no coincidence that Currywurst is popular in Berlin. This is the city where the tasty hot dog variation was invented.
Despite its bun-free status, Currywurst is an ideal street food that’s typically eaten on paper plates. We recommend eating Currywurst with french fries and a beer.
Discover more great food in Berlin.
Octopus Hot Dog (Portugal)
We’re not going to lie. Portuguese people don’t eat octopus hot dogs on a daily basis. In fact, the only one we’ve personally eaten has been at the Time Out Market in Lisbon. But it’s such a doozy that this hot dog varietal earned a prime spot in our guide.
A twist on the traditional Portuguese octopus dish called Polvo à Lagareiro, the octopus hot dog reminds us of lobster rolls served in America. But this hot dog is made with tender octopus tentacles instead of lobster meat. Considering that the Portuguese have mastered cooking the cephalopod, it’s a twist that works.
Discover more great food in Portugal.
Steirer Hot Dog (Austria)
We never heard of Steirer hot dogs until we visited the Styrian city of Gratz in Austria. Now we can’t get Steirer hot dogs out of our heads.
This obsession makes sense once you realize that Steirer hot dogs are wrapped in bacon and garnished with salad, onions, horseradish and pumpkin seed oil mayonnaise. Mustard adds the finishing touch to this Austrian hot dog treasure.
Discover where to eat in Graz.
Potato Hot Dog (USA via South Korea)
It would be easy to describe Korean hot dogs as corn dogs on steroids but that wouldn’t be technically accurate. You see, although both involve frying hot dogs and serving them on sticks, Korean hot dogs are coated with rice flour while corn dogs are coated with cornmeal batter.
However, it would be correct to describe potato hot dogs as Korean hot dogs on steroids since these big boys are essentially Korean hot dogs studded with potato cubes. CrunCheese in Las Vegas pushes the potatato hot dog envelope further with its potato mozzarella hot dog filled with – you guessed it – mozzarella cheese. Oh my!
Discover more great places to eat Off the Strip in Las Vegas.
Sonoran Hot Dog (USA Via Mexico)
The Sonoran hot dog may be the most unique hot dog in this guide. It’s also a Tucson food favorite with roots in the Sonoran city of Hermosillo in Mexico.
A Sonoran hot dog is wrapped in bacon before it’s grilled and stuffed in a soft bolillo bun. Toppings include jalapeño peppers, mayonnaise, mustard, onion, pinto beans and tomato. Crazy people like Mindi add hot sauce. If you go this route, we recommend using Valentina or another notable brand of Mexican hot sauce like Cholula or Tapatio.
Discover the best restaurants in Tucson for Sonoran Hot Dogs and other food favorites..
Loaded Hot Dog (Everywhere)
A hot dog is a blank slate – a canvas where a food artist can elevate simple food to a masterpiece. Purists can eat them plain or with a single condiment or two. Others can load them with toppings galore using their imaginations to guide them.
We fit into both categories. Sometimes we like a simple hot dog on the go. Then there are times, like when we’re drinking in a city like Austin, when more is more. That’s when we order a loaded hot dog with as many toppings as physically possible.
Discover more great food in Austin.
Prague Dog (Czech Republic)
We completed our mission to eat a hot dog in Prague, or a Prague Dog as we called it, moments after we strutted into Mr. Hot Dog in Prague’s Letná neighborhood and ordered a lumberjack dog. Sure, we could have checked off this box at one of the city’s many sausage stands but that would have been too easy.
The reward for our extra effort was a pork hot dog topped with relish, cheese sauce and maple glazed bacon bits. All of this protein gave us enough energy to chop down a tree which makes sense considering its Paul Bunyan-esque name.
Hot Dog Poutine (Canada)
Hot dogs aren’t one of Montreal’s most iconic foods. Instead, they take one of Montreal’s most iconic food to the next level. That iconic food is poutine.
Poutine was invented in Quebec in the 1950s.
Quebecois chefs typically prepare poutine with french fries, cheese curds and brown gravy. Adding sliced hot dogs to the recipe is a natural evolution that we like. In fact, we like it so much that we’ve ordered hot dog poutine at two different Montreal restaurants with no regret.
Discover more great food in Montreal.
Alligator Hot Dog (USA)
You might wonder what an alligator hot dog tastes like. Wonder no more. We ate an alligator hot dog in New Orleans and it tasted like a bun full of yum. Granted, that particular hot dog didn’t just feature alligator sausage. It also had grilled onions, Creole mustard, tomatoes, jalapeños, barbecue sauce and bacon.
Rice Dog (Japan)
Nicknamed Japan’s kitchen, Osaka is a mecca for junk food junkies who want to eat something different between sushi and ramen meals. And that’s exactly what these two food trippers did when we ordered a rice dog in Osaka.
Despite its name, that rice dog was neither vegetarian nor healthy. Instead, it was a hot dog encased inside fried Japanese rice batter. We haven’t yet found rice dogs outside of Osaka but we’re still looking.
Discover where to eat in Osaka.
Hot dogs are so popular in Norway that Pølser (Norwegian for hot dogs) are sold in supermarkets, convenience stores and food halls. They’re also sold at stand-alone stands like Syverkiosken in Oslo.
Going full Norwegian at Syverkiosken, we ate a loaded Pølse nestled inside a tortilla-like Lompe instead of a standard bun. Made with potato and flour, that Lompe was an ideal vessel for our mid-afternoon guilty pleasure and begs the question of why more hot dogs are served inside potato-based wrappers.
Discover more great food in Norway.
Chef Driven Hot Dog (France)
Most people choose to eat dishes like steak tartare, onion soup and blanquette de veau at restaurants in Paris. However, we broadened our Paris dining horizons to include hot dogs designed by a Michelin-starred chef. Not your average hot dog, this freshly made wiener was placed in a brioche bun with a presentation that was pure soignée.
Since serving hot dogs at Frenchie isn’t an option, Chef Grégory Marchand proudly served grilled all-beef hot dogs at his more casual FTG where cooks artfully drizzle yellow mustard on top of each beefy dog. And to that we say oui and merci.
Chopped Hot Dog (Portugal)
Hot dog lover rejoice when they see Cachorrinhos on a Porto menu. Although the Portuguese word cachorrinhos literally translates to puppies, this snack served at casual Porto restaurants is actually a hot dog spin-off with staying power.
Hot Dog with Mashed Potatoes (Sweden)
Don’t be confused by Sweden’s evolved society that eschews cash as a payment option and serves cardamom bulles with third wave coffee. Swedes like hot dogs just as much as anybody and maybe even a little bit more than most.
Finding hot dogs in Stockholm is easy to do since the city has a plethora of hot dog stands scattered throughout the city. The key is to order a Tunnbrödsrulle with toppings like mayonnaise, mashed potatoes and shrimp salad. We say order them all – especially the mashed potatoes.
Discover why we fell in love with Stockholm.
Italian Hot Dog (Italy)
The concept of eating hot dogs in Italy seems counterintuitive except in Northern Italy where food skews more German than Italian. The same goes for drinking since beer flows as freely as wine in this part of Italy.
Hot Dog With Onion Rings (USA)
Tasting wine on the Finger Lakes creates a hunger that can’t be ignored. If there’s a better way to satisfy that hunger than with a hot dog, we don’t know it. This is when it’s time to go to whole hog at F.L.X. Wienery.
We’re not being cute. F.L.X. Wienery literally serves a hot dog called the whole hog that’s topped with fried onions, bacon, cheese curds, corn relish, fried egg, chipotle mayo and herbs. If this ginormous hot dog doesn’t satisfy your hunger, nothing will.
Discover more about the Finger Lakes wine and food scene.
We grew up singing about Oscar Mayer wieners without realizing that wiener literally translates to Viennese. Not only did we eventually connect the dots, but we also later ate wieners in Vienna. Talk about going full circle.
Wieners called wurstel are easy to find in Vienna since they’re a popular food cart item sold at würstelstands. Thin and long, these Austrian hot dogs make great late night snacks, especially when they’re topped with both ketchup and mustard.
Discover more great food in Vienna.
Frequently Asked Questions
Germany gets credit for inventing the hot dog but the USA is where the hot dog got its name.
Every country thinks it has the best hot dogs. Only you can decide which is your personal favorite.
Traditional hot dogs are made of beef, pork or a combination of beef and pork. Modern hot dogs are made of a range of proteins as well as soy and vegetable products.
Not really. Most hot dogs are processed and tend to have high amounts of saturated fat, sodium and nitrates.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: November 13, 2022