Some might say that a good, old-fashioned hot dog is perfect with just ketchup and mustard, but those two are really just the beginning when it comes to hot dog toppings.
As someone who loves to try new things, I’m always coming across new tasty toppings for hot dogs, and when I find a good one, I make sure to write it down. Over time, I’ve gathered up quite a long list of all my favorites, each one more mouth-watering than the last. If you’re someone who loves hot dogs, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading.
Right down below, you’ll find my thorough guide telling you what toppings to try on your hot dogs for the ultimate flavor combinations. I’ve taken inspiration from all over the country, so whether you’re from Chicago and you like it “dragged through the garden”, or you’re from down South where you might slap some mac and cheese on top, I guarantee there’s going to be something for everyone.
The first entry on my list of best toppings for hot dogs is none other than ketchup. It would be wrong to start off with any other hot dog topping because ketchup is the one that almost everyone reaches for first.
It’s sweet and it complements the saltiness of the hot dog like no other condiment. Ketchup really is king when it comes to toppings for hot dogs, or for any other cookout food, to be honest.
Coming in at a close number two is none other than mustard. Mustard is usually known for basically being the sidekick to ketchup, but mustard can be enjoyed all on its own as a hot dog topping without anything else.
Mustard is so tangy and with a little bit of zing that it really brings the whole hot dog to life. There are so many varieties of mustard you can use, too. I am a huge proponent of spicy brown mustard as well as dijon, but the classic yellow mustard never fails to satisfy.
Chili and Cheese
It doesn’t get any more classic than a chili cheese dog. Chili and cheese have to be two of my favorite hot dog toppings, especially when you put them together. There’s just something about melted cheese and chili together that makes it the absolute perfect combination for a hot dog topping.
If you want to enhance the experience further, be sure to throw a handful of French fries on top alongside the chili and cheese. Depending on how hot the chili and cheese you put on top of your hot dog is, the fries may help bring the heat level down if it’s too high.
Mac & Cheese and Bacon
This next one on my list of best hot dog toppings is going to really blow you away if you’ve never tried it before. Mac & cheese with bacon on top of a hot dog is simply unreal, in my opinion. Bonus points if it’s some homemade mac & cheese, too.
Mac and cheese is a pretty common side dish to have when making hot dogs, so it makes perfect sense that it would go even better on top of the hot dog rather than on the side. When you throw bacon into the mix, however, it becomes a complete game-changer.
Baked Beans and Bacon
Baked beans and bacon as a topping for hot dogs is another great example of “if it goes good on the side, why not plop it on top?” working out in our favor. I like to think it comes from someone long ago at a cookout with a plate so full that there was no room for baked beans, so they just put them on top of their hot dog.
Baked beans add a great bit of sweetness to the hot dog, but this is so perfectly counterbalanced by the savory, salty flavor provided by the bacon that when it all comes together it’s just a harmony of tastes in your mouth.
Sauerkraut and Spicy Brown Mustard
Up next, I’ve got one for those of you who are fans of the classic New York hot dog. The New York hot dog is typically topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard, like this one, but most of the time they will also come complete with sweet onion relish when you order one from a hot dog cart.
For me, I usually go without the sweet onion relish because I enjoy just the spicey and sour flavors of the mustard and sauerkraut combined. If you are someone who prefers a more complex flavor combination, then I would definitely opt for the sweet onion relish in addition to the other two toppings.
Chili and Coleslaw
Another one of my favorite, rather unconventional toppings for hot dogs is chili and coleslaw, otherwise known as a West Virginia hot dog.
This one may catch a few people off guard as it did me the first time I was introduced to it, but once you try it, you’re opening yourself up to a whole new world of delicious hot dog toppings.
The outcome of this hot dog topping can be heavily dependent on both the type of chili and coleslaw that’s being used, as well as the ratio of slaw to chili. If my chili is a bit on the spicy side, I may use less chili and more slaw to really balance the heat with the creaminess and vice-versa.
Avocado and Bacon
There are honestly very few things I can think of that aren’t better when topped with avocado and bacon. This is another one of those winning combos that is pretty hard to beat, regardless of the dish.
Many people have taken to wrapping the hot dog with bacon before grilling to make it even easier to eat, but you can also chop the bacon into bits and sprinkle them on. The high fat content of the avocado is offset beautifully by the salty bacon grease with these hot dog toppings.
Pickles, Tomatoes, and Onions
This next entry on my list of best toppings for hot dogs is an absolute classic that takes inspiration from what many people know as a Chicago-style hot dog. A typical Chicago dog will have a few more toppings, however, so this is a more simplistic version.
These toppings are actually somewhat on the healthier side, but it’s still a hot dog. I enjoy pickles, tomatoes, and onions on top of my hot dogs when I want that extra crunch from the onions and pickles alongside the juiciness of the tomato. It’s even better if you use a poppyseed bun.
Pico de Gallo and Guacamole
If you want to take your hot dog topping experience south of the border, then this is one for you. Pico de gallo and guacamole are two of my all-time favorite taco toppings and they work just as well on hot dogs, if you ask me.
The key to this one is making sure that you’re using good guacamole, although I haven’t met many guacamoles I didn’t like. Nice, creamy guacamole with just the right amount of pico de Gallo can really take your hot dog to the next level. Again, it’s all about the ratio and flavor of the two toppings.
Buffalo Sauce and Blue Cheese
Ever been at a cookout where they’re serving hot dogs, but all you can think about are Buffalo wings? Well, here’s your solution: Buffalo sauce and blue cheese hot dog toppings.
Buffalo sauce and blue cheese on top of a hot dog is an incredible invention and I wish I knew who to thank for it.
There’s not much more to be said about this dynamic duo other than you need to get out there and try them for your next hot dog topping when you’re in the mood for some heat.
Cheese and Jalapenos
Up next, we have another gorgeous combination that I really think you’re going to love. Jalapenos and cheese sauce for hot dog toppings are a winning combination by all means. It’s like enjoying a plate of nachos on top of your hot dog. What could be better than that?
If you want an even more satisfying experience, throw a handful of fries or chips on top and treat yourself to a delightful crunch with every cheesy bite as you savor the spice of the jalapeno slices.
Sauteed Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions
Carmelized onions and sauteed mushrooms are usually something I like to see on my steak, but it turns out that they make just as good, if not better, toppings for hot dogs. Onions are pretty much a staple topping for hot dogs, but it’s a whole different ballgame when they’re caramelized.
The sauteed mushrooms add delightful earthy tones to the overall flavor profile which are then softened by the sweetness of the tender caramelized onions. This hot dog topping turns one dog into a much more filling experience.
BBQ Sauce and Onion Rings
If this next topping combo wasn’t shown to me, I probably would have never thought to try it. Barbecue sauce and onion rings on top of a hot dog are one of the absolute best combinations you could possibly try if you ask me.
Sweet BBQ sauce and sweet onion rings on top of a nice savory hot dog fresh off the grill is a match made in heaven. Even if you’re like me and you prefer less-sweet, vinegar-based BBQ sauce, the onion rings still add a great flavor balance and, of course, a crunch.
Baked Beans and Chips
For the absolute perfect crunchy addition to your hot dog toppings, you should definitely consider dropping a handful of chips and baked beans on top of that bad boy.
What I really love about this combo is that you can use just about any type of chips you have available. Sometimes I like a nice stack of crispy potato chips with the baked beans because they’re so light and tasty.
Corn chips are also an extremely viable option as well. Since the corn chips are a bit thicker, they provide a more solid crunch and will actually hold up better underneath the beans.
Avocado and Salsa
Up next, it’s time to really expand your horizons with some avocado and salsa on top of your dog. As I’ve said before, avocado really makes everything taste better, but when you throw some salsa into the mix, you’re really getting into something good.
For me, I always prefer a spicy salsa because the fat in the avocado will help cool it right down. I’ve also found that the chunkier salsa stays on top of the hot dog a little bit better than the thinner salsas.
Pimento Cheese and Jalapenos
Another interesting choice that many people might not consider when it comes to toppings for hot dogs is pimento cheese and jalapenos. Pimento cheese actually makes a fantastic topping for hot dogs because it’s so thick, it stays in place beautifully.
Topping this topping with jalapenos is another way to add in even more flavor and a bit of zing to your hot dog, so don’t be afraid to throw some pickled jalapenos on top, or even some fresh jalapeno if you really like to feel the burn.
Peppers, Onions, and Cheese
This one is sometimes known as a Philly cheese dog because it’s heavily influenced by Philly cheesesteaks. Peppers, onions, and cheese are the terrific trifecta that you should definitely consider putting on top of your hot dog if you enjoy a delicious Philly cheesesteak.
Of course, it’s going to be best if the peppers and onions have been sauteed first to soften them up, but the most important part is getting that delicious cheese to melt nicely all over the hot dog and toppings.
Cheese and Fries
Who doesn’t love cheesy fries? In fact, I think the only way to make cheese and fries a better combination is to put it on top of a hot dog. It’s obviously going to taste the best if you use melted cheese, but shredded cheese can also work in a pinch.
Any kind of fries will work great for this hot dog topping. I prefer the thicker fries because they hold up better underneath the gooey cheese, but thinner fries allow you to stack more on, so it comes down to personal preference.
Gravy and Fries
Last, but definitely not least, is one of the most delicious and criminally overlooked hot dog toppings: gravy and cheese. This one is for all the people out there who love the classic Canadian dish called poutine.
For those that don’t know, poutine is a dish of french fries and cheese curds topped with savory gravy. It can be difficult to find good cheese curds depending on where you live but don’t worry, even just the gravy and fries together is an amazing topping.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with toppings for your hot dogs. If you like certain ingredients and they work with burgers or other meats, try them with hot dogs. You may be pleasantly surprised.