Taste test: All-beef hot dogs

Epicurious

View gallery

.
Hot dogs

(Photo: Thinkstock)

After a blind taste test of 13 hot dog brands, we discovered one good enough to eat without a bun—plus two other notable franks.

Admit it: One of the best things about going to any sporting event or barbecue is having an excuse to eat a mouthwatering hot dog. Is it the event that makes the frank or the frank that makes the event? We believe in the power of a good weenie. We think the dog does make the difference.

The ideal frank should be juicy, not mushy. It needs to be firm and have some snap when bitten into. It should have a robust flavor with a good balance of smoke and spice. Most importantly, it should be able to stand on its own, with or without condiments and buns.

To pin down this perfect dog we tasted 13 varieties available nationwide. All brands were all-beef (no pork blends) and fully cooked. Several were marketed as all-natural and/or organic.

Methodology: In a blind taste test, seven judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of the hot dogs one at a time. All dogs were grilled at the same temperature until browned. (Some required more cooking time, since the thickness of the dogs varied.) We ranked them according to the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being highest). One wiener was anointed our top pick, receiving 3 1/2 forks. Two runners-up would certainly find a spot on our grill.



View gallery

.
Nathan's Beef Franks
Best Overall

Epi Top Pick: Nathan's Beef Franks ($5.69 for 8-count pack)

Pros: "This dog has a smoky-sweet spiciness and is perfectly juicy," commented one taster. "I love how it's not mushy like Play-Doh; it has an unyielding consistency and a good wide girth," stated another.

One taster said it best: "I knew it was the winner when I tasted it cold and it was still appetizing."

Cons: A bit greasy.

(See more on Yahoo! Shopping: Laptops, Cell Phones, Women's Fashion)



View gallery

.
Thumann's Beef Frankfurters
First Runner-Up:

Thumann's Beef Frankfurters ($6.99 for 8-count pack; available in more than 38 states, check company Web site for details)

Pros: " There's a pickled sweet aroma, which I could taste in each bite," said one editor. "The neutral color and good, snappy skin made me feel like I was eating a classic New York City street 'furter."

Cons: A little on the skinny side.



View gallery

.
Oscar Meyer Premium Beef Franks
Second Runner-Up:

Oscar Meyer Premium Beef Franks ($2.99 for 8-count pack)

Pros: "This pick has a very distinct taste," said one taster. "It's nicely seasoned with garlic and an intense smokiness that reminds me of beef jerky." Other judges found it not overly greasy and with just the right firm bite.

Cons: This dog was oddly red and the texture spongy.


*Prices and availability subject to change.





More from Epicurious:

Easy Family Dinners

25 Sandwich Makeovers

How to Eat Your Spring Veggies


Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Classmates Keep Missing Boy’s Desk Empty as Tribute After Friend Allegedly Helps Murder Him

      The recent discovery of a missing Alaska teen’s dead body, weeks after he vanished — and the subsequent arrest of one of his friends — has shaken their small community. In mourning 16-year-old David Grunwald, they are also remembering his life: One his teachers tells PEOPLE the boy’s desk chair is being kept empty in tribute to the funny and eager student, who dreamed of being a pilot. “We all miss him,” Zack Lanphier, David’s former high school teacher at Mat-Su Career & Tech, tells PEOPLE.

      People
    • Husband who hasn’t had sex in years asks, ‘Is this normal?’

      Hi, Carolyn: Should I be worried that my wife and I have had no sex for literally years? I am guessing it is at least three years. Not even heavy make-out sessions. It just seems that my wife has no interest. I am afraid to broach the subject for fear of a negative answer. We don’t sleep in the same bed anymore either. I am a big snorer and chose to sleep in the guest room. It’s fine because she is a light sleeper and I am happier that she is getting her sleep. I do use a CPAP but it does come off sometimes. The no-sex thing just happened over time. We have both gained some weight but we are not obese — we could both lose 20 or 30 pounds. Is this normal or should we seek help? J.: Should I be

      Washington Post q
    • Bindi Irwin posted the sweetest goodbye message to her boyfriend, and our hearts are melting and breaking all at once

      Long distance relationships are HARD, but not impossible. Just look at Bindi Irwin (daughter of the late Steve Irwin) and her American boyfriend, pro…

      Hello Giggles
    • UPS Driver Who Spotted 'Call 911' Scrawled on Package Helps Save Captive Woman

      A 3-year-old child was locked in a room of the house during the ordeal.

      Inside Edition
    • Chart shows exactly how Trump's tax plan could affect you

      While some richer taxpayers could benefit from Trump's proposed reforms, others may end up paying more.

      CNBC
    • 'Jersey Shore' Star Pauly D Looks Unrecognizable in New Instagram Video — See the Clip Here!

      Pauly D looks totally different compared to his Jersey Shore days! In a new Instagram video, the reality star looks completely unrecognizable, and fans are wondering if Pauly went under the knife! In the video, the Jersey Shore star invites fans to a New Year's Eve celebration he's scheduled to DJ. If the reality star did indeed have work done, he wouldn't be the first Jersey Shore star to change their appearance. Snooki previously admitted to receiving treatments like Botox, while JWOWW underwent a breast augmentation. Click through the slideshow to see the Jersey Shore cast then and now!

      intouchweekly.com q
    • Georgia teen reportedly kidnapped by her friend's father

      A Georgia teen missing for nearly a week apparently was kidnapped by the father of one of her friends, local media reported Thursday. Calah Waskow, 15, vanished from her home in Evans on Sunday. Investigators said 37-year-old Jason Johnson, from North Augusta, S.C., may have abducted her and that she was believed to be in "extreme danger," Fox Carolina reported. "My daughter was friends with his daughter," Waskow's mother, Nora, told WRDW. "That's how he, I guess, got introduced to my daughter." He was wanted on charges including aggravated child molestation, Fox 5 reported. Investigators warned the pair could have gone almost anywhere. Johnson and the teen apparently had been seeing each other

      Fox News q
    • One Direction Star Louis Tomlinson's Mother Johannah Dead at 43

      Louis Tomlinson's mother, Johannah Deakin, has died after a battle with leukemia.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Victoria’s Secret Apologizes to Customer Booted During ‘Shopping While Black’ Incident

      Victoria’s Secret has apologized to a woman who was asked to leave the store. A woman shopping at a Victoria’s Secret in the Quintard Mall in Oxford, Ala., says she was shocked and dismayed to be asked to leave the store. Traveling nurse Kimberly Houzah says she and a second black shopper were made to leave after a store manager caught another black woman shoplifting.

      Yahoo Style
    • Critics: Alabama execution helps case against sedative

      ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama execution in which a prisoner heaved his chest, coughed and appeared to move offers more evidence that a drug used to sedate inmates before they are put to death should not be used in lethal injections, critics of the drug said Friday.

      Associated Press 9 min ago
    • A teen fired up Facebook Live from the highway. Moments later, everyone in her car was dead.

      It would be the final question Brooke Miranda Hughes would hear before a tractor-trailer plowed into the back of her car as it crawled down Interstate 380 in Pennsylvania just after midnight Tuesday. Chaniya Morrison-Toomey, the passenger who posed the question, was referring to Facebook Live, which Hughes had just launched to broadcast live from her moving vehicle, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune. The final moments of their young lives — marked by a flash of lights, screeching tires and then seven minutes of blackness — were captured on the live-streamed video after Hughes, sitting behind the wheel, held her phone near her face for the rest of the world to see. Hughes, 18, and Morrison-Toomey, 19, were declared dead at the scene.

      Washington Post q
    • Bindi Irwin Posts Touching Message About Boyfriend

      Bindi Irwin said goodbye to her longtime boyfriend Chandler Powell as he heads back to the United States. The 18-year-old took to Instagram to post a touching message about temporarily parting with her beau after spending the last few months together in her native Australia.

      Good Morning America
    • Michael Moore Says Trump May Decide To Quit Presidency

      “He may decide he just wants to quit before he even takes office,” the Academy Award-winning filmmaker said in an interview Wednesday.

      International Business Times
    • Town & Country
    • The internet found Chloë Moretz’s doppelganger, and Chloë’s reaction is priceless

      If you’ve ever wondered if you have a doppelganger out in the world somewhere, all you need to do to find them…

      Hello Giggles
    • Sherri Papini abduction has striking similarities to cold case

      Authorities investigating the abduction of California mom Sherri Papini are being haunted by a cold case disappearance with striking similarities.

      WPVI – Philadelphia
    • Best Buy is running a big two-day sale on Apple gear, including the iPhone 7

      Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now behind us, but if you’re still looking for great deals on Apple gadgets you’re in luck. There are plenty of holiday deals still available from a variety of retailers. On top of that, Best Buy is hosting a special two-day sale on Apple gear, and it covers some of the hottest products Apple launched this year — including the iPhone 7. The two-day sale kicks off on Friday, and the promotion runs through the end of the day on Saturday. Best Buy is putting up discounted iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and iPhones. Yes, the iPhone 7 is included, so if you still haven’t gotten a new iPhone 7 you should head over to Best Buy to check it out. Here are Best Buy’s Apple-only deals: iPhone Get a minimum $100 Best Buy Gift Card with installment billing agreement on an iPhone 7 Get the iPhone 6s for $14.99/month Get the iPhone 6s Plus for $19.99/month iPad 9.7-inch iPad Pro – Save $125 12.9-inch iPad Pro– Save $100 iPad mini 2 – Save $50 Mac 13-inch MacBook Pro Non-Touch – Save $100 MacBook Pro – Save $200 on select models MacBook Air – Save $200 on select models  iMac – Save $200 on select models Apple Watch Save up to $500 on select models Select accessories for Apple Watch – 50$ off The special Apple sale is already available on BestBuy.com at this link , where you'll find all the deals mentioned above as well as discounts on accessories to go with your brand new Apple toys.

      BGR News
    • PEOPLE’s Picks for the Top 10 Movies of 2016 (10 photos)

      From an American hero to a mischievous demigod to a mysterious group of extraterrestrials, giants ruled

      People
    • 5 Unhealthy Mistakes That Make You Age Faster

      Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you have to look it. Watch out for these unhealthy mistakes that could make you age faster.

      The Cheat Sheet q 25 min ago
    • Trump supporters boycott new Star Wars movie

      Some fans take aim at the new film after a claim that it was reshot to include an anti-Trump message.

      CNBC Videos