What Are the Different Styles of Hot Dogs Around the U.S.?
Whether you prefer it with a simple swirl of mustard or a mix of peppers and sweet relish, the iconic hot dog is often viewed as the epitome of easy, American comfort food.
Ever since its humble beginnings that started with tiny New York food carts in the early 1800s, each pocket of the U.S. has put its creative twist on this classic, ballgame treat. From the quality of “dog” itself, down to the choice of toppings and buns, these are the little details that have shaped the versatile, regional styles known today!
So get ready for a sizzling exploration, as we take you on a “smoking hot” tour of the different styles of hot dogs found across America.
New York Hot Dog
Since hot dogs were first introduced in New York, we’d be remiss if our tour didn’t start in the Big Apple! And a trip to the bustling city isn’t complete without a street-side snack from a food cart—home of this simple hot dog packed with flavor. Almost similar to “Chicago-style” (which we’ll get to in a bit) the New York-style hot dog starts with a boiled beef or pork dog.
As far as the toppings, a classic New York-style hot dog usually involves tangy brown mustard, sauteed onions, sauerkraut, and pickled relish—a real harmony of flavors. However, many New Yorkers may prefer to kick it up a notch by layering on special onion sauce—a secret concoction of ketchup, mayonnaise, more onions, and other spices such as sweet cinnamon and spicy chili powder. Both tourists and locals can agree that a New York hot dog is basically the heartbeat of the city.
Chicago Style Hot Dog
If you’ve ever perused the streets of the Windy City, you might find yourself at a food truck or food cart, specifically one serving hot dogs. And Chicago-style hot dogs aren’t “ordinary” by any means. Many Chicagoan’s will say this type of dog has been “dragged through the garden” due to it’s variety of toppings!
So what is a Chicago-style hot dog exactly? It all starts with a steamed dog and fluffy poppy seed bun. This provides the foundation for a variety of toppings, such as mustard, chopped white onion, pickle relish, pickled sports peppers, and a dill pickle…holy pickle. But it doesn’t stop there. Chicagoans add freshly sliced tomatoes and a dash of celery salt that heightens the flavor profile.
Try Our Favorite Hot Dog Recipes
The Fenway Frank
Maybe you’re a true baseball fan and have visited Boston’s Fenway Park for the actual game, but there’s no shame in just showing up for The Fenway Frank. Watching a Red Sox game isn’t complete without this iconic delicacy that actually involves a two-step cooking process.
First, a beef or pork dog is broiled, then grilled to perfection. But the real star of the show is the New England-style bun that’s buttery-soft. The hot dog is then cradled between this delicious bun and gently topped with mustard and relish—a true delight that you can’t find anywhere else.
If you stepped into just about any Coney Island-style restaurant or diner, you’re bound to find this tasty dog, front and center of the menu. Even though you might immediately think of New York when dreaming of the classic Coney Dog, this style is particularly popular in Detroit, Michigan.
So what makes these so unique from the rest? It’s the chunky chili “Coney” sauce, made with a ground beef or beef and pork mixture, along with various seasonings such as chili powder, onion, garlic, and sometimes a hint of cinnamon. On top of this irresistible mixture, you might find a layer of onions and mustard too.
Pro tip—don’t wear white pants while indulging in this masterpiece. It’s messy but downright delicious.
Enjoy Uncured Beef Hot Dogs
Here at Coleman Natural, our Uncured Beef Hot Dogs are crafted with your family’s well-being in mind. We take pride in our commitment to quality, ensuring our hot dogs are naturally cured using celery powder and sea salt. You’ll never find a trace of artificial nitrates or nitrites! Plus, they come conveniently packaged in sets of eight—ideal for a family gathering.
Cincinnati Chili Dog
Keeping with the chili theme, the Cincinnati chili dog is more chili than dog. If you’ve made the trek to Ohio, you might be aware that Cincinnati-style chili is an integral part of Cincinnati, Ohio’s food culture—very different from other variations you might come across.
Typically made with fresh ground beef, water, or broth, and a blend of spices that can include cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and cocoa powder, this chili warms the soul, especially on a cold day. And topped on a hot dog? Well, it’s pure heaven. Plus, traditionally, the Cincinnati chili dog is loaded with shredded cheddar cheese, which makes this hot dog another messy, yet mouth-watering snack you can’t pass up.
West Virginia Style Hot Dog
When it comes to hot dog variations, West Virginia doesn’t play games with two widely-popular styles. Typically, it starts with a steamed or grilled hot dog served in a plain bun, but then the magic happens with a generous scoop of West Virginia chili, which is typically thinner than most and doesn’t contain typical ingredients like beans or veggies. Instead, it’s a mixture of ground beef, onions, and a blend of robust spices that often includes garlic, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
If you don’t stick to the chili route, then the delectable Slaw Dog is a must-try, showcasing creamy southern coleslaw on top of the hot dog, which yields the ultimate texture and flavor combo.
Kansas City Dog
Many believe that Kauffman Stadium put Kansas City dogs on the map—turning the conventional American hot dog into more of a Rueben extravaganza. Just like the traditional Rueben sandwich, this dog displays all of those key ingredients, such as tangy Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, and that velvety-smooth Thousand Island dressing. Sometimes you’ll even spot a pickle sandwiched in between the buns.
All of these delectable flavors, in combination with sides like salty fries and sweet soda pop, make this hot dog a must-try—especially if you find yourself watching the Kansas City Royals!
Texas Tommy Dog
Many say that the classic Texas Tommy made headlines back in the 1940s, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not a Lone Star State original. This specific regional hot dog was introduced in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and offers a wild take on the traditional bacon-wrapped dog.
The bun is needed for structural support since it’s topped with a mountain of velvety-smooth Cheese Wiz or melted American cheese. Outside of this, many hot dog lovers lightly drizzle it with classic condiments like ketchup and mustard. No matter how you choose to consume it, the Texas Tommy is hailed as an irresistible American classic.
How are hot dogs typically made?
- Beef trimmings are minced to reduce their size.
- Seasonings, salt, and water are added to the minced beef.
- The combined ingredients undergo a second blending process to achieve an ultra-fine texture.
- The mixture is then stuffed into casings, which can be either plant-derived cellulose or animal intestines. Animal casings typically remain on hot dogs after cooking, while cellulose casings are removed.
- The hot dogs, still in their casings, are smoked in a large oven using either wood smoke or liquid smoke.
- If cellulose casings were used, they are removed, and the fully-cooked hot dogs are packaged and sent to retailers.
For a deeper look into the production process, check out our article: What Are Hot Dogs Made Of?
Out of all the regional hot dogs, the Sonoran Dog is a sight to behold! This highly-popular street became the talk of the town in Phoenix and Tuscan, Arizona, specifically with college students in the 20th century—mainly because of its visual appeal.
It’s first assembled by stuffing a smoky, bacon-wrapped grilled dog in a bolillo-style bun, a Mexican bread that is ultra soft inside, with a crunchy exterior. Sometimes you’ll even get a layer of pinto beans spread in the bun for added flavor and texture.
Common toppings include ingredients like freshly-diced tomatoes, diced onions, mustard, mayonnaise, jalapeño sauce, and guac or avocado slices. And for added heat, a drizzle of hot sauce!
Los Angeles Dog
There is something so enticing about wandering Los Angeles city streets at night with a juicy hot dog in hand. Since the beginning of time, dozens of street vendors in sunny SoCal have made a mark with the L.A. dog—a bacon-wrapped sensation, topped with sweet sauteed peppers and white onions.
Many natives also layer on generous amounts of ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard, along with giant poblano pepper. The L.A. Dog represents the best of California street food and certainly adds to the city’s eclectic culture.
You may think about ordering a fresh bowl of poke or gulping down a giant fruit smoothie to beat the heat on the Hawaiian coastline. But did you know that there’s another must-try regional favorite? That is the Puka Dog!
Unlike any of the American hot dog styles mentioned above, the Puka Dog was first introduced by a Hawaiian restaurant chain called Puka Dog. And the word “puka” in Hawaiian translates to the hole, which explains how to build this masterpiece.
The Puka Dog concept involves piercing a long bread roll with a skewer to nestle the steamed dog inside. You can opt for a blanket of melted American cheese or make it more flavorful by adding various condiments inside the hollowed-out bun, including ketchup, mustard, tropical fruit relishes like passion fruit, mango, or coconut, and more! So if you find yourself in Hawaii, don’t get a tan on the beach without this snack by your side.
“Great hot dogs contain high-quality, simple ingredients. You should be able to see where the meat comes from–Coleman Natural provides this information on its product labels–and recognize the ingredients that are used. Unfamiliar chemicals and alternate proteins in the mix are a red flag.”
Robert McEwan, Senior Food Technologist for Perdue Farms (parent company of Coleman Natural Foods)
Flavorful Hot Dogs Start With Quality First
No matter which regional version speaks to you, we realize that hot dogs really do make up the tapestry of American cuisine. This is exactly why we’re committed to offering the highest quality hot dogs, no matter which toppings or condiments you choose!
Since our beginning in 1875, we’ve stayed true to only using natural ingredients you recognize in our Uncured Beef Hot Dogs, sourcing beef directly from small American farms. You can also serve Coleman Natural hot dogs with peace of mind, as we never use antibiotics or added hormones. You never find a trace of fillers, binders, artificial ingredients, or preservatives either.
Plus our hot dogs are fully cooked—just quickly heat, serve, and savor those special moments with family around the dining room table!
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