How to Make the Perfect Smoked Hot Dogs Every Time!

Smoked hot dogs are one of the easiest barbecue recipes to prepare. I can attest to this as someone who’s been making them with a time-tested recipe from my grandma every summer.

The guide below will teach you how to make really good hot dogs without a hassle:

Wait, Can You Smoke Hot Dogs?

You absolutely can! It’s just like smoking meat except that the temperature and the cooking times differ.

You can smoke hot dogs on any type of grill designed to smoke meat. If you are especially picky you might find a smoker just for making the perfect smoked hot dogs recipe.

Is Smoking Hot Dogs Hard?

Smoking hot dogs require only minimal prep time. It takes only about five minutes to coat the dogs in a rub. You can skip this step altogether if you like and still enjoy a delicious meal.

Smoked Sausage Hotdog

How to Make Smoked Hot Dogs?

This recipe is no sweat. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Prep Time and How to Spiral Slice Hot Dogs for the Grill or Smoker

It’s important to defrost the hot dogs before smoking. Give the franks about an hour out of the freezer to completely thaw.

Once thawed, scour them with a knife or using a scouring tool. This is essential to allow the franks to smoke well and retain sauces once fully cooked.

After scouring, coat the franks in dry rub. Follow the instructions in the packaging if you buy the seasoning. You don’t need to let it sit.

Step 2: Set the Best Temperature for Smoked Hot Dog Recipe

Prepare your barbeque grill in advance. This process will depend on whether you use a gas or charcoal smoker.

Regardless of what kind of smoker you use, you need to preheat it.

It’s best to set the temperature slightly higher than you would for smoking hot dogs. The ideal preheating temperature is 275°F (135°C).

Preheat the smoker for about 15 minutes before placing the franks on the grill.

Step 3: How Long to Smoke Hot Dogs

Once the smoker is preheated, set the temperature down to 225°F (107°C) and place the franks. Make sure you place them evenly on the grill about one inch (2.54cm) apart. This allows for even smoking.

You will need to smoke the hot dogs for about an hour. Larger franks may require up to 2 hours.

You will know the hot dogs are done if they look golden brown and crispy. However, do not open the smoker occasionally to check.

Only open the damper to release excess smoke. Make sure the flap is closed for the hour until the franks are done.

Step 4: Additions and Substitutions

While the hot dogs are in the smoker, prep the condiments like BBQ sauce. Now chop the onions and slice the jalapenos. At our house, we use this time to set the table too.

Step 5: What to Serve Hot Dogs with

When the hour is up, use the thermometer to make sure the hot dogs have reached the ideal internal temperature of 225°F (107°C). By now it should have a smoky flavor.

Use tongs to remove the franks from the smoker and place them inside the buns. Don’t rush to add condiments. Let it cool for about five minutes so the sauces don’t dry up in the heat.

Try any of the following condiments or sides:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Salsa
  • Smoked potato salad
  • BBQ sauce
  • Avocado Slices
  • String cheese
  • Onion slices
  • Baked beans

Once ready, add the condiments and serve with sides of your choice. And that’s it to make tasty and hearty smoked hot dogs!

Three types of sausage hotdogs

Do Smoked Hot Dogs Taste Good?

Smoked hot dogs have a richer, sweeter, and juicier flavor than their grilled or fried counterparts. The meat retains a well-textured smoky taste you won’t get with other methods, such as

boiling or steaming.  

The flavor of smoked hot dogs will depend on the type of wood chips you use. Some types of wood make the meat taste harsher. You can avoid that by learning about the types of wood to use in advance (more on that below). 

Equipment and Tools to Smoke Hot Dogs

Other than a can-do attitude, here’s a rundown on the equipment you will need before prep time:

A smoker

You’ll need a reliable grill designed for smoking. Whether you use a pellet grill or gas grill doesn’t really matter. It only needs to be able to trap in the heat for a great smokey flavor.

Grilling thermometer

As mentioned above, the trick to making the best smoked hot dog is even cooking. So you will need an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the hot dogs reach the exact temperature required for exceptional taste.

Sharp knife or a scoring tool

It’s not a smoked hot dog without the delectable cut marks. Make sure you have a sharp knife to make grill marks, or better yet, crisscross patterns on the hot dogs. If you are short on time, there are gadgets that let you shove the frank into a presser to instantly make scoring patterns.

I haven’t included items like dishes and grilling spatulas. Just gather the usual things you need for barbecuing.

Ingredients for Smoked Hot Dog Recipe

The meal prep for this recipe is easy-peasy. The simplest smoked hot dog recipe only requires a hot dog and a hot dog bun (plus a great smoky flavor).

Most people would prefer to add sides and condiments. So here are the basic ingredients you will need for great smoked hot dogs:

  • Hot dogs
  • Hot dog buns
  • Dry rub
  • Condiments like ketchup, mustard, diced pickles, etc.
  • Pre-prepared sides if you wish

You can get hot dogs at just about any grocery store. This is probably the most important part. Choosing the right hot dog is essential for making the barbeque a hit or a miss.

Hot dogs come in different varieties. So which brand you should buy comes down to personal preference. I prefer nitrate-free beef hot dogs. My sister, on the other hand, only likes vegetarian hot dogs.

While the meat part is important, don’t forget the bun. You definitely don’t want to pair a delicious smoked hot dog with a stale bun.

Therefore, make sure your hot dog buns are soft and fluffy. The bread should never feel too chewy or hard against a smoked hot dog.

Hotdog sandwich with tomato and cheese

Choosing the Right Seasoning for Smoked Hot Dogs

Now for the dry rub. My grandmother used to make her own dry rub with spices around the kitchen. This is what she used:

Homemade Dry Rub Seasoning Recipe

  • ½ tbsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tbsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 ½ tbsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp powdered cumin
  • Sea salt to taste   

She had the seasoning already mixed and stored in a jam jar at the start of every summer. Her recipe added a delicious and savory kick to the hot dogs.

I’m too lazy to make my own seasoning so I buy dry rub at the store. My family likes to make the smoked hot dogs spicy and the condiments sweet for an interesting mix of flavor.

There is a variety of dry rubs that vary from burning hot to sickly sweet. So you’ll never be out of options.

Extra Tip

There’s an alternative to dry seasoning:

Sauce

Yes, you can coat the franks in a sauce of your liking. A friend of mine coats hot dogs in BBQ sauce before they go on the grill. When the smoked hot dogs come out, the sauce is dried and stuck like a coating.

If you go with this option, make sure to evenly apply the sauce.

Choosing Wood for Smoked Hot Dogs Recipe

The wood or wood chips are just as important as the ingredients in the meal for smoking hot dogs. After all, it’s what gives smoked hot dogs most of its flavor.

The type of wood you use will determine the flavor of the finished product.

Best Wood Choices for Smoked Hot Dogs

  • Applewood
  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Pecan

If you want a sweet flavor for your smoked hot dogs, go with apple or cherry wood. These wood chips are great for the pellet grill.

If you prefer a rather sharp and earthy taste, go with hickory. Most people don’t use hickory for smoking because it’s known for harsh flavors. Guess what, some people do like it, so it’s fun to experiment with.

If you want something in between light and harsh, I recommend going for walnut or pecan. My smoked hot dogs usually taste nutty with these options.

Ignited Firewood

Recipes FAQ

Can You Smoke Hot Dogs and Hamburgers?

It’s not impossible to smoke hot dogs and hamburgers together. Do keep in mind that it can be a bit tricky. That’s primarily because these types of food require different cooking times and temperatures.

Hamburgers typically require a higher cooking temperature than hot dogs. The thicker the patty, the higher the cooking time and temperature will be. As hot dogs typically aren’t as large as hamburger patties, they will char if you cook the same time as burgers.

However, I’ve been to plenty of backyard barbecues where the hosts just throw the two things together on a smoker. The burgers may end up a little less crispy this way.

You might be able to solve this problem by getting slimmer burger patties that don’t take as long to cook. Smaller burger patties will most likely pair well with hot dogs on a smoker.

What is the Difference between a Smoky and a Hot Dog?

In Canada, a smokie is a type of sausage often used as hot dogs for recipes. In the UK, a smokie is a type of grilled fish.

The Canadian smokie can be called a hot dog but it’s not the case everywhere. So if you want to make smoked hot dogs, better just go with sausage packages labeled “hot dogs.”

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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