How Celebrity Chefs Upgrade Hot Dogs

Hot dogs with toppings and buns
Hot dogs with toppings and buns - Gmvozd/Getty Images

Among celebrity and home chefs alike, hot dogs have stirred great debates. Is ketchup okay? Is a hot dog a sandwich? And then there's Guy Fieri, who takes things to a whole new level by turning a hot dog into an apple pie. But Fieri isn't alone in his culinary mashups. Bobby Flay stays on the savory side, bringing two ballpark favorites together with the nacho hot dog. These two are just a small taste of the eclectic ways celebrity chefs upgrade hot dogs.

For these chefs, the hot dog is a blank canvas begging to be filled with flavor. They get excited about condiments — Michael Symon will have you questioning your mustard. They bring international flavors — Emeril Lagasse kicks it up with kimchi, Rachael Ray adds spice with harissa tahini sauce, and Giada De Laurentiis takes the hot dog for an Italian spin. They also enjoy classic upgrades — both Gordon Ramsay and Ree Drummond have tasty ideas for chili dogs. So, relish all the options — when it comes to hot dog ideas, these chefs are on a roll.

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Bobby Flay: Nacho Hot Dog

Bobby Flay at cooking demonstration
Bobby Flay at cooking demonstration - Larry Marano/Getty Images

Bobby Flay's Emmy-award-winning shows helped make him a culinary superstar. He's even the first chef to be honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Known for making food fun, it's no wonder he found a playful way to combine two ballpark favorites into one delicious mouthful.

Nacho dogs are much like they sound — hot dogs topped with all the fixings of loaded nachos. In "Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction: A Cookbook," he shares the recipe featuring grilled tomato-chipotle salsa, grated Monterey Jack, sliced pickled jalapeños, guacamole, crushed blue corn tortilla chips, and cilantro leaves for garnish.

When Flay went on "Rachael Ray" to show this creation off, it sparked a light-hearted debate about the sequence of toppings. After grilling the hot dog and bun, Ray wanted to maximize meltiness by adding the cheese right away. Flay had other plans. He likes to see his cheese, so he started with guacamole and salsa, then sprinkled the cheese on top. For the finishing touch, he grabbed a handful of blue corn tortilla chips, crunched them in his hand, and dropped them over the dog for that perfect crunch. He almost forgot the pickled jalapeños, but Ray wouldn't let that slide — because what's a nacho dog without a little kick?

Giada De Laurentiis: Take It For An Italian Spin

Hot dog drizzled with pesto
Hot dog drizzled with pesto - ismishko/Shutterstock

Emmy awards, New York Times bestselling cookbooks, and even her own line of pasta — Giada De Laurentiis is on top of her game. And how does she top her hot dogs? Italian style! A Laurentiis-inspired hot dog condiment bar includes crumbled pancetta, diced red onions, pepperoncini, roasted peppers, mozzarella, pesto, and Calabrian chili mayo. She makes the Calabrian chili mayo with just three ingredients — Calabrian chili paste, lemon juice, and mayonnaise. The amount of Calabrian chili paste is left to taste, with a warning that a little goes a long way. It's hot stuff, but the lemon helps balance out the flavor.

Over at Pink's, the iconic Hollywood hot dog stand, you can sink your teeth into the Giada De Laurentiis Dog. This Italian-themed hot dog comes with mixed grilled sautéed peppers and onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Laurentiis visited Pink's to give her namesake dog a taste test. True to her roots, she loves that the toppings mirror the green, white, and red of the Italian flag. After a big bite, she definitely approved.

Emeril Lagasse: Kimchi Hot Dog

Hot dog with kimchi and siracha mayo
Hot dog with kimchi and siracha mayo - Dennis Wildberger/Shutterstock

"Let's kick it up a notch!" as Emeril Lagasse would say. His Kimchi Dogs bring new meaning to the "hot" in hot dogs. Kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables like cabbage and onions, adds a spicy and tangy flavor. Plus, it adds a satisfying crunch that contrasts beautifully with the soft bun and juicy dog. For Lagasse's Kimchi Dog, he adds a heap of kimchi to each dog and tops it with Sriracha-Sesame Drizzle — a mix of mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, and hot sesame oil. He garnishes each dog with a sprinkle of thinly sliced green onion tops.

Lagasse's flair for flavor on franks also inspired an award-winning hot dog that's served up by Pink's infamous hot dog stand. Known as the Emeril Lagasse Bam Dog, it kicks up the flavor with jalapeño, onions, mustard, cheese, three strips of bacon, and coleslaw. Just like kimchi, the coleslaw provides a nice crunch — Lagasse likes to kick up the texture and flavor of his hot dogs.

Rachael Ray: Hot Dogs Topped With Tomato Relish, Israeli Pickles, And Harissa Tahini Sauce

Rachael Ray holding hot dog
Rachael Ray holding hot dog - Logan Fazio/Getty Images

Rachael Ray takes a Middle Eastern twist on conventional hot dogs by adding tomato relish, Israeli pickles, harissa tahini, and pickled peppers. Her recipe starts with kosher hot dogs on sesame seed hot dog rolls. For the tomato relish, Ray chops up Persian cucumbers, a variety developed in the Middle East to be crunchier and sweeter than other varieties. These cucumbers are also star in Israeli pickles, those punchy, tangy treats you'll find hiding in cans labeled "cucumbers in brine." With a spicier and tangier taste, Israeli pickles pack more kick than your average American kosher dill pickles.

While Ray's choice of relish and pickles already boosts her hot dog's flavor, she keeps going with a slather of harissa tahini sauce. Tahini is a rich, nutty, and creamy Middle Eastern condiment made from ground sesame seeds — it's the secret sauce in hummus. Ray mixes tahini with a bit of harissa paste, a fiery blend of hot peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices. Find both harissa paste and tahini in grocery stores and online — look for harissa paste in jars, tubes, and cans and tahini in jars and squeezable bottles.

Ray tops off the flavor extravaganza with sport peppers, those mildly pickled chiles that are the hallmark of a classic Chicago-style dog. If you don't have sport peppers, Ray isn't picky — any pickled peppers will do.

Gordon Ramsay: Chili Hot Dog

Gordon Ramsay smiling in kitchen
Gordon Ramsay smiling in kitchen - Sterling Munksgard/Shutterstock

The hot dog is no stranger to chili and none other than multi-Michelin starred Chef Gordon Ramsay has perfected the chili dog. His recipe offers some flavorful tips for upgrading the standard hot dog even before the chili hits the bun. He uses pork hot dogs and lets them lounge in hot chicken stock for 15 minutes. This already infuses those dogs with extra flavor. Post-soak, Ramsay roasts the hot dogs on a Josper until the skin is crispy. For those of us without this highly valued charcoal-burning oven, a good ol' grill or pan will have to do. Once crisped to perfection, Ramsay puts the hot dogs in toasted brioche buns where they're ready for a ladle of chili con carne and a parade of garnishes — sliced fresh chili, chopped chives, grated Monterey jack cheese, and a drizzle of sour cream.

Ramsay offers plenty more inspiration for hot dogs at his Gordon Ramsay Burger restaurants. The Las Vegas location even takes the chili dog up a notch, serving the Chili Dawg — a bacon-wrapped hot dog covered in chili, cheese sauce, crispy onions, green onions, and peppers. Meanwhile, both the Chicago and Boston locations woo diners with the Chipotle Dawg, a feisty mix of cheddar, avocado, chipotle ketchup, chiles, jalapeño, and pepper relish. If you're taking inspiration from Ramsay, your hot dog will not lack flavor.

Ree Drummond: Cilantro Slaw, Special Relish, Or A Chipotle Chili Dog

Chili dogs with cheese and onions
Chili dogs with cheese and onions - ABBYDOG/Shutterstock

Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman, isn't one to let a hot dog be bland. She could add basic coleslaw to a hot dog, but she takes that up a notch and adds cilantro slaw to all-beef hot dogs slathered in barbecue sauce. All this flavor is placed on slightly toasted brioche hot dog buns.

For another hot dog approach, Drummond adds sauerkraut and relish. Of course, not just any relish. She creates a sweet and spicy version by finely chopping a small stalk of celery, a scallion, and a tablespoon of pickled jalapeños, all mixed together with a cup of store-bought sweet pickle relish. She uses this special relish, along with sauerkraut, to top both hot dogs and bratwurst. It's all held together in lightly buttered and toasted split-top hot dog buns.

As if chili didn't already upgrade a hot dog, Drummond takes it a step further and elevates a chili dog. She doesn't make just any chili dogs — she makes chipotle chili dogs. The dog features amped-up chili with adobo sauce and chipotle chile peppers, bringing a smoky flavor and more heat than your average jalapeño. After cooking all-beef hot dogs, she tucks them into toasted potato buns, tops with chili and grated cheddar cheese, and broils for about a minute until the cheese melts. For the finishing touch, Drummond garnishes the chipotle chili dog with finely chopped white onions.

Michael Symon: Whole-Seed Mustard And Absolutely No Ketchup

Jar of whole seed mustard
Jar of whole seed mustard - New Africa/Shutterstock

Food Network Iron Chef Michael Symon let us in on some frank secrets when he grilled up hot dogs on Instagram. A natural casing for that satisfying snap is a must-have for Symon and he likes to split the dogs open to get some charred grilling action in the middle. Instead of butter, he spreads mayonnaise on the bun's inside before toasting it on the grill.

For condiments, Symon has spicy taste. In his Instagram post, he doused his hot dog with Old Bay Hot Sauce and spread some Wickles Spicy Red Sandwich Spread — you know this stuff offers a kick since its first ingredient is jalapeño peppers. For mustard, he layered on whole-seed Old Brooklyn Mustard, one of his favorites. He likes this stuff so much that he actually partnered with the company. Together, they've rebranded as POP Mustard, offering whole-seed mustard in flavors like original, smoked, and kraut. Keep an eye out — this mustard could soon be elevating your hot dogs, as the Cleveland-based company is currently working out large distribution deals.

There is one condiment Michael Symon will never put on his hot dog: ketchup. He's made his anti-ketchup stance clear on social media. When fellow Food Network Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli tweeted good things about ketchup, Symon's response was just a nauseated green face emoji. Talk about throwing shade with a side of relish.

Martha Stewart: Hot Dog With Sauerkraut And Plenty Of Condiments

Hot dogs with condiments
Hot dogs with condiments - MariaKovaleva/Shutterstock

Martha Stewart may be a household name for her elegant and sophisticated home entertaining, but she's still a hot dog-eating human like the rest of us. On a fun segment of "Today," Stewart lifted the lid on her grill and shared her lineup of all beef hot dogs, kielbasa (Polish sausage), cheddar bratwurst (German sausage), and loukaniko (Greek sausage often flavored with citrus and dried herbs like oregano). When it comes to the bun, there is a hard and fast rule: it must be buttered! Then it goes on the grill until slightly charred.

While grilling up dogs on "Today," Stewart was noticeably excited about condiments. She showed off a condiment bar with bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, French mustard, spicy mustard, beet horseradish mustard, chopped onions, red relish, green relish, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, strips of bacon, and sauerkraut. When it came time to dress her own dog, she topped it with French mustard, pickles, lots of relish, a strip of bacon, and a heap of one of her favorites — sauerkraut.

Like some other celebrity chefs, Stewart earned herself a namesake menu item at Pink's, Hollywood's longstanding go-to hot dog joint. Drawing from the condiments Stewart set out on "Today," Pink's Martha Stewart Dog features relish, onions, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, sour cream, and three strips of bacon.

Jeff Mauro: Hot Dogs With Refried Beans, Avocado, And Lots More Flavor

Bacon-wrapped hot dog with toppings
Bacon-wrapped hot dog with toppings - P Lansing/Shutterstock

Jeff Mauro, the Season 7 winner of Food Network Star and the host of Sandwich King, was born, raised, and is still cooking in Chicago. In a BBC profile, he praised Gene & Jude's as Chicago's best sausage spot. He grew up eating the restaurant's classic Chicago hot dog — mustard, relish, onion, and sport peppers.

But Mauro's history doesn't mean his hot dog ideas are limited to Chicago's way of doing things. He's developed dozens of recipes for hot dogs, including meeting Mike's Hard Lemonade challenge to create a hot dog bold enough to pair with Mike's Hard Black Cherry Lemonade. Mauro's answer: the Sonoran-style hot dog.

The Sonoran-style hot dog starts with a toasted bun slathered with refried beans. A bacon-wrapped hot dog joins the party, followed by sliced avocado, diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, pickled banana peppers, a drizzle of spicy mayo, and a garnish of cilantro. It's all crafted to go well with Mike's Hard Black Cherry Lemonade, a refreshing drink powerful enough to serve as an extinguisher to the spicy and flavorful Sonoran-style hot dog.

Ina Garten: Hot Dogs Over An Open Fire

Woman cooks hot dog over open fire
Woman cooks hot dog over open fire - Gajus/Shutterstock

The star of "Barefoot Contessa" is known for her elegant yet approachable home cooking. Hot dogs might not be the first food to associate with elegance, so when Ina Garten revealed that she'd want a hot dog for her last meal, a few loyal fans raised their eyebrows. The elegance crept in when Garten specified which hot dog — specifically, she'd choose a hot dog and french fries from Frenchie to Go in Paris. The restaurant knew how to do hot dogs, even fermenting in-house sauerkraut. Sadly for Garten, though, Frenchie to Go has since closed its doors.

When preparing her own hot dogs, Garten shared on Facebook that she prefers to cook them over an open fire. The plump, juicy, smoky, and charred-just-right results can be hard to replicate with other cooking methods. Garten also spilled the beans (or should we say relish?) on the surrounding details — she likes potato rolls, spicy Gulden's mustard, and lots of relish.

Wolfgang Puck: Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog Melts

Bacon-wrapped hot dog with cheese
Bacon-wrapped hot dog with cheese - Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

Wolfgang Puck grew up in Vienna as a big fan of Wiener Würstchen, a type of smoked sausage. But his family couldn't afford to eat much meat. They ate home-grown veggies, backyard chicken eggs, and plenty of rice, potatoes, and noodles. After a long journey, Puck is now a renowned celebrity chef for the stars, creating recipes like hot dog melts — a meat-wrapped-in-meat masterpiece.

To create these melts, you'll make cheese pockets in all-beef hot dogs by cutting long slits down the middle of each. Then, stuff a slice of Gruyère cheese into each hot dog's opening. Wrap each hot dog in a thin slice of lean bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Place the bacon-wrapped cheese dogs on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, until the bacon is crisp. Puck serves these hot dog melts in buns with a zesty horseradish sauce made of mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, mustard, honey, shallots, chives, and lemon juice.

Julia Child: Just Go To Costco's Food Court

Hot dog on Costco food court menu
Hot dog on Costco food court menu - oasisamuel/Shutterstock

Long before celebrity chefs used social media to debate hot dog condiments and the true definition of a sandwich, Julia Child published "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." The book is full of labor-intensive instructions that don't exactly shout easy weeknight dinner. But Child's appreciation for food wasn't limited to just the fancy stuff. She simply loved good food, from her go-to tuna salad on an English muffin to her complicated cassoulet. And yup, her range of likes included hot dogs.

In "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child," Bob Spitz reveals that Child liked to head to Costco for a treat — two hot dogs, with mustard and sauerkraut. Child is not alone in her love for Costco's food court frank. In Costco's 2023 fiscal year, customers purchased 200 million hot dog and soda combos. Over the years, the hot dog itself has seen some changes. Hebrew National originally supplied the dogs, but in 2008, Costco started making their own to save some dough. But one thing that hasn't changed — the budget-friendly cost. Back when Child was enjoying her Costco treat, she paid the same price we do today — just $1.50 for a jumbo all-beef hot dog and a 20-ounce refillable soda.

Guy Fieri: Apple Pie Hot Dog

Baseball, hot dog, and apple pie
Baseball, hot dog, and apple pie - /Getty Images

Back in the groovy 1970s, Chevrolet got a catchy tune about "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet" stuck in everyone's head. A few years ago, the company revived the jingle. And as part of the promotion, Chevrolet recruited celebrity chef Guy Fieri to create a recipe mashup of hot dogs and apple pie. At least they didn't ask him to throw in a baseball cowhide, too.

Chevrolet posted a video on Facebook featuring Fieri making his creation — the Apple Pie Hot Dog. It's a pie pocket with a hot dog, bacon jam, and apple pie filling. He tops it with crumbled bacon and a drizzle of apple mustard — a condiment made with equal parts apple pie filling and yellow mustard.

While the Apple Pie Hot Dog may turn some Americans off of both apple pie and hot dogs, if the flavor mashup inspires you, check out this twist on Guy Fieri's Apple Pie Hot Dog recipe. Instead of pie pockets with whole hot dogs, the recipe calls for chopped-up hot dogs to make adorable round mini pies.

Read the original article on Mashed.