Transform Hot Dogs Into Kid-Friendly Octopus Creations For Your Next Barbecue

When it comes to hosting a barbecue, it's easy to come up with foods for the adults to indulge in, from grilled meats to all of the best BBQ sides. But, in many cases, you also need to come up with some dishes that the kids (and fun-loving adults) will love, too — and this is where the hot dog octopus comes in. The hot dog octopus is actually exactly what it sounds like: a cooked hot dog that is sliced so that it looks like an octopus. 

Here's what you do. Take uncooked hot dogs — or, if you need to make a vegetarian version, plant-based hot dogs will work just as well — and cut them directly in half, horizontally, to make two pieces that each have the rounded top. Then, on the flat side, slice partway up the side, making two pieces (that are still connected at the top). Then, repeat with each side, slicing each piece in half again to make four total pieces. Repeat once more. After this, there should be eight pieces, or "tentacles," at the bottom, all connected to the rounded top.

From there, cook the hot dogs. You can do this on the grill along with your other barbecue dishes, or on the stovetop if you want to save grill space. After the hot dogs are cooked, there's just one step left: make the octopus's smiley face. To do this, you can either cut the shape of the eyes and a mouth with a knife or use a condiment, such as mayonnaise, to paint the face onto the hot dogs.

How to serve the octopus hot dogs

After making the cute and delicious octopus hot dogs, it's time to get them ready to serve. The simplest way to present them is to lay them out on a plate or tray next to a bowl of ketchup or other kid-friendly condiments for dipping. You can either leave the hot dogs as they are or stick toothpicks in the "head" for easier handling. 

If you're serving a bigger group of kids, then it's a good idea to have multiple dipping options available (rather than just picking the one that you know your kid likes). Along with ketchup, other kid-friendly dips include mustard and BBQ sauce. If you know that any of the kids or adults who will be partaking have a more refined palate, you can even include homemade garlic aioli as one of the dip choices.

Another option is to serve the octopus hot dogs in buns, like a normal hot dog. Cut the hot dog buns in half to fit the size, then place the octopus hot dogs inside. Of course, you'll want to make sure that the octopus is visible, so line any condiments along the side or even on the bottom of the bun to make sure you don't obscure the octopus. Finally, whichever way you serve the octopus hot dogs, make sure to include a kid-friendly side dish, such as chips, air-fryer French fries, or, for a healthier version, a simple fruit salad.