Taste test: All-beef hot dogs


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

Recommended for You

  • Women Are Boycotting Ivanka Trump’s Fashion Line — and the Stores That Sell It

    Despite her father’s uncanny ability to offend and alienate women more with each passing day, Ivanka Trump has managed to maintain a relatively high level of respect throughout Donald Trump’s turbulent presidential campaign. Some would say Ivanka has even been the one saving grace for a candidate who is increasingly being viewed as little more than a misogynistic narcissist by many Americans — particularly women.

    Yahoo Style
  • Eleanor Roosevelt’s ‘mistress’ died heartbroken and alone

    They called each other “darling,” “dear one” and “heart.” They told each other “je t’aime” and “j’adore,” and wrote more than 3,000 letters to one another. “All day I’ve thought of you . . . Oh! I want to put my arms around you, I ache to hold you close,” the normally reserved Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in March of 1933 to her beloved. No, not her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but a brilliant, bourbon-drinking, cigarette-smoking Associated Press reporter named Lorena Hickok, or Hick. Their romance is at the center of Susan Quinn’s engrossing double biography, “Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady.” While Quinn is not the first to tell the tale of Eleanor and

    New York Post q
  • ESPN anchor uses unfortunate metaphor to explain Charlie Strong's job status at Texas

    When ESPN’s Adnan Virk used an ill-advised metaphor to talk about coach Charlie Strong’s situation at Texas, the Twitter backlash was swift.

    Yahoo Sports
  • Tiger Woods Doesn’t Regret Cheating on Ex-Wife Elin Nordegren

    The 40-year-old professional golfer opened up to Charlie Rose on Thursday.

    Entertainment Tonight
  • Man 'fed up' with with children playing on drive jailed after running over and killing neighbour's son

    A man who ran over and killed his neighbour's five-year-old son after becoming "fed up" with children playing on his driveway has been jailed for two years. David Cowell, 42, killed neighbour Riley Ferguson, while he pulled his car onto the drive he shared with the boy's family in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Cowell had denied the charge of causing death by careless driving but was convicted by a majority verdict.

    International Business Times UK q
  • Ariel Winter finally explains why she wore that swimsuit on the red carpet

    Modern Family star Ariel Winter has a great track record as a body-positive role model. She is so outspoken about her journey to feeling happy in her own skin and knows how to handle bullies without dimming her shine. That’s why we love this explanation of why she wore a swimsuit, shorts, and heels on the red carpet over the summer. Ariel debuted this look at the Just Jared 4th Annual Summer Bash hosted by Uno in Los Angeles in July. Some fans loved the look and some people hated it, but it definitely got people talking. It’s true, this is a real outfit she rocked on the red carpet! In a recent interview with People about her most controversial outfits, Ariel talked about the look. She said:

    HelloGiggles q
  • 11 Things You Probably Didnt Know About Airplanes (11 photos)

    Planes have changed a lot since the days of the Wright Brothers (or, perhaps more accurately, Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos ). Those first wood-and-cloth contraptionsarean entirely different species thanthesleek Boeing Dreamliners of today. With the continual advancements in aerospace technology, it's hard to keep up with all the amazing things planes today are capable of doing (and withstanding). Below,11 things you didnt know about airplanes and air travel.

  • Two Children Shot and Killed in Georgia Home Invasion

    A 15-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl were shot to death in a suspected home invasion in Georgia

  • China's Xi to consolidate power at key meeting: analysts

    The leaders of the world's most powerful political party gather in Beijing on Monday for a conclave that could change the course of Chinese history. In meetings at the exclusive Jinxi Hotel, safe from the public's prying eyes, nearly 400 top members of the Chinese Communist Party will confer for four days, discussing changes to how the giant party will be managed. The meeting, according to the official Xinhua News service, will focus on the issue of "party discipline".

  • Ivanka Trump backs her father but doesn't want to fall with him

    Ivanka, soon to turn 35, is still clearly her father's protegee. Having grown up in the spotlight from an early age, at a time when her father's extramarital affairs filled the tabloid press, Ivanka knows how to tend to her own image -- and that of the clothing line that bears her name.

  • Pictures of two Egyptian children engaged to be married trigger outrage — once again

    CAIRO – While celebrating his eldest son's lavish wedding, at which a number of famous singers and belly dancers performed, Nasser Hassan decided to "double the joy," he later recalled. He announced that his son Omar would marry his cousin Gharam. At the wedding, held in a province about 75 miles north of Cairo, the guests didn’t find it strange. Some would later tell Egypt’s Al Watan newspaper that there was “nothing inappropriate,” adding that it was only “an engagement, not a marriage". Omar is 12 years old. His fiancee, Gharam, is 11. Egyptian laws prohibit official registration for marriages for anyone under the age of 18. But the practice remains prevalent. According to UNICEF, 17 percent

    Washington Post q
  • Michigan lined up in a 10-man centipede formation again

    Jim Harbaugh is unique. Michigan’s coaches don’t call it that -- they call it “trains” — but we’re not Michigan’s coaches. Needing two yards, Michigan came out with five linemen, three tight ends, a fullback, and a running back.

    SB Nation q
  • Toddler dies in Spokane fire, his dog huddled at his side

    SEATTLE (AP) — A toddler who died in a house fire was found with his dog and teddy bear next to him and authorities believe the dog tried to protect the boy, a spokesman for Spokane's fire department said Saturday.

    Associated Press
  • Jay Z 'can't stand' Kanye West following Famous singer's Seattle concert rant

    Kanye West's epic stage rant against Beyonce and Jay Z has sparked speculations that not all is well between the Wests and the Knowles. A new report suggests that the music mogul is not happy with Yeezy. Kanye is a nut job.

    International Business Times UK q
  • MarketWatch q
  • Scottie Pippen Divorce: Cops Called Twice This Month for Domestic Disturbances

    Scottie Pippen‘s marriage did not end well — cops were called to the NBA star’s home TWICE in the past 3 weeks for domestic disturbances … TMZ Sports has learned. Larsa told cops she was involved in a “heated verbal argument” with Scottie but insisted it NEVER GOT PHYSICAL. Scottie told police she could come back inside and there would be no issues and even offered to leave if it made Larsa feel more comfortable.

  • Always Broke? 4 Things Debt-Free People Never Do

    Do you want financial freedom? Don't do these four things.

    The Cheat Sheet q
  • Pakistani tea seller turns model after fame on social media

    ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani tea seller with striking eyes who saw his life change overnight after a picture of him at work went viral, said Friday he was totally unaware of social media until recently, when boys and girls suddenly started thronging his tea stall to take selfies with him.

    Associated Press
  • Donald Trump has a small lead in 3 national polls

    Donald Trump found himself ahead in three national polls Friday morning. The Republican...

    Business Insider
  • Khloe Kardashian And Tristan Thompson Are Reportedly Getting Married

    UPDATE: According to ESPN, the two are not engaged to be married. “Khloe and Tristan plan on spending at least $1 million on their big day,” the source tells InTouch, “and they plan to invite 400 guests.” Thankfully, that massive amount of people won’t have to travel far, as Khloe and Tristan reportedly want to hold their wedding ceremony in California.