Craving Hot Dogs Without The Meat? Use Carrots Instead

Hot dogs are an iconic part of American culture, eaten at baseball games, from New York City street carts, and off the grill at backyard barbecues. As veganism and vegetarianism become a growing trend in the U.S., plant-based food producers crank out plenty of veggie dogs to ensure that hot dogs don't lose their beloved patriotic status. However, if you're craving hot dogs without the meat, there's an even more basic and accessible substitute to stuff inside a bun with your favorite toppings: carrots!

Carrots are among the most affordable bulk vegetables available year-round at any grocery store. They're full of healthful nutrients, and unlike veggie dogs or regular franks, they're unprocessed and full of fiber. Plus, their long, semi-spherical shape and firm yet starchy texture when cooked make them the perfect candidate for a plant-based hot dog.

Transforming carrots into a smoky, savory, spiced hot dog is a long process with a big payout. Carrot hot dogs require two cooking methods punctuated by a lengthy marination period to impart the flavors you crave when you bite into a hot dog. The first order of business is to boil the carrots whole while you prepare a marinade. Once they are tender, yet firm, stick them in a plastic bag with the marinade to sit for a minimum of four hours, or ideally, 24 hours. After marinating them, you'll saute the carrots in their marinating liquid in a skillet, or place them on the grill for five to 10 minutes.

Carrot hot dog: marinade flavors and pairings

It's the marinade that makes the carrot into a hot dog, but there are numerous options to achieve a savory and smoky frank. Carrots have a slightly sweet taste and hearty texture when cooked, so they'll stand up to and benefit from robust flavor agents. Marinades vary from recipe to recipe, but overlapping ingredients include umami-rich liquids like amino acids, soy, or tamari, and liquid smoke. Liquid smoke will give carrots a boost of smokiness, which will also enhance the meaty umami notes in soy sauce. Other marinade ingredients include aromatics like garlic and a tangy element like apple cider vinegar. Smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, grated ginger, and dried chiles will give carrot hot dogs a spicy finish. Furthermore, grilling the marinated carrots will also create a smokier, caramelized flavor and a nice char that you might not achieve in a skillet.

Carrot hot dogs will taste delicious with any topping or sauce you desire, from the classic duo of mustard and relish to more avant-garde options. For example, spiced, savory carrot dogs would taste delicious with a drizzle of tahini sauce and balsamic reduction with a topping of roasted red pepper, crunchy spiced chickpeas, and grilled onions. For a Southwestern-inspired carrot dog, you can stuff it with pickled jalapeƱos, vegan mayonnaise, roasted corn, and pico de gallo.