Hot dogs are a staple of the United States that you can find regardless of where you are in the country. Whether you get a hot dog from a typical fast-food restaurant or one specializing in making hot dogs, it’s good to know what places are currently the best to check out.
A hot dog may seem like simple food, and in some ways, it is, but there’s a world of difference between a decent hot dog and a great one.
In the following list, I’ll share my top picks for the best hot dogs and briefly touch on the aspects that make each of them stand out from the average crowd.
Best Fast Food Hot Dogs
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of hot dogs in general, I highly recommend checking out at least one of these locations when you have the opportunity.
Checker’s Hot Dog
I’ve always been one to associate Checkers with quality burgers and chicken, so I didn’t have my expectations set too high when I gave their hot dog a try.
To my surprise, their grilled hot dog surpassed my expectations a little bit in an area I did not anticipate. The hot dog did not strike me as anything extraordinary, but the bread was excellent.
There’s nothing worse than eating a hot dog on a slightly stale hot dog bun, and I find this problem occurs more often than it should at some fast-food restaurants.
The only minor downside is that only one type of hot dog is available.
Five Guys Hot Dog
Five Guys is an excellent fast-food restaurant to get yourself a juicy burger from.
One of the best things about the chain is that you can customize your order so much, which goes for the burgers and the hot dogs.
Be it a plain hot dog, cheese dog, bacon dog, or bacon cheese dog; you can select from a wide range of toppings to add.
I find the freshness of everything Five Guys serves to be extremely high every time, and their hot dogs are also a bit larger than usual, so you get your money’s worth.
While I still prefer Five Guys for the burgers, I highly recommend trying the hot dogs out at some point if you haven’t.
Dairy Queen’s Hot Dog
As great as Dairy Queen’s ice cream is, their food is just as good as the other fast-food restaurants on this list, and their hot dogs are worth your time and money.
What stood out to me about the hot dogs here is the simplicity. You can order one plain or with cheese, and I went with the plain option and found it delectable in every way a hot dog should be.
Specifically, the quality of the beef seemed a step above that of the average hot dog, as it was extra juicy with every bite.
While I have yet to try it, Dairy Queen also offers a chili cheese dog.
Shake Shack’s Hot Dog
Another restaurant known for its crinkle fries and 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, Shake Shack, features one type of flat-top hot dog.
If you’re unfamiliar, flat-top is a type of cooking surface that resembles a mix between a griddle and a grill, and this is how Shake Shack cooks hot dogs.
I don’t know how much a difference it makes in the cooking process, but the hot dog tasted excellent regardless.
You can add chopped bacon or crispy shallots to your hot dog, but you’ll have to order any other condiments on the side.
The hot dog goes well with any of the fries. However, I recommend giving the cheese fries a go because the cheese sauce is delicious.
Sonic’s All-American Dog
What stands out to me most about Sonic’s All-American Dog is the size.
Unlike all the other hot dogs on this list, it features quite a lot of bread. Not so much that it takes away from the hot dog itself, but I certainly noticed a difference when eating it.
It does come with diced onions, ketchup, mustard, and relish, and you can choose which toppings to leave on.
I will say that I initially had some concerns about the combination of condiments overtaking the taste of the hot dog.
They barely avoided doing that, so I think Sonic got the type and number of toppings just right with this hot dog.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog
You may have heard of Nathan’s Famous from their hot dog eating contest.
The fast-food restaurant is one of the only restaurants on this list specializing in making high-quality hot dogs.
I don’t know what goes into the secret spice recipe. I only know that it brings a unique flavor to Nathan’s Famous hot dogs.
Nathan’s Famous also makes chili cheese dogs and NY cheesesteak dogs, which I usually find better if you want a unique hot dog eating experience.
However, their regular hot dog already manages to succeed in offering that unique experience with flying colors.
Typically, I recommend getting a hot dog with a side of some kind, but you don’t need that in this case.
Portillo’s Hot Dog
If you’re looking for a break from the norm regarding hot dogs, there’s no better place to go than Portillo’s.
This restaurant specializes in Chicago-style hot dogs, which are hot dogs served on poppy seed buns and often layered with all kinds of toppings.
The classic Portillo’s hot dog features mustard, relish, chopped onions, celery salt, sliced red ripe tomatoes, sport peppers, and a kosher pickle.
In my opinion, all the toppings combine with the hot dog to create a taste that’s almost impossible to describe.
It’s quite the flavor safari, and while you probably won’t like it if you prefer your hot dogs plain, I do recommend trying it at least one time for the experience.
Best Fast Food Hot Dogs
- Checkers’ Hot Dog
- Five Guys Hot Dog
- Dairy Queen’s Hot Dog
- Shake Shack’s Hot Dog
- Sonic’s All-American Dog
- Nathan’s Famous’ Hot Dog
- Portillo’s Hot Dog
As you hopefully now see, there are many great restaurants to get excellent hot dogs from.
Some of these fast-food locations are so popular for certain things they offer that people don’t ever think to check out their hot dogs, and I find that to be unfortunate.
Thankfully, even though hot dogs might not be the most popular item for specific restaurants, that doesn’t stop them from making the hot dogs of the highest quality possible.
You won’t be disappointed by any of these locations, so get yourself a hot dog the next time you find yourself at one of them.
Check out other great fast food options, like the best fast food mozzarella sticks!