How To Add Smoky Notes To Pickled Onions For The Ultimate Burger And Hot Dog Topping

Hot dogs and hamburgers are so deeply ingrained into the food-consciousness of Americans that, on occasion, we can forget to innovate. Chicago dogs feature chopped onion and tomatoes, the classic hamburger gets rings of red onion, Coney dogs get beef chili, and so on. While you can't go wrong with the tried-and-true toppings of your burger or hot hog, the next great upgrade to your grilling season (and beyond) comes courtesy of an easy preparation of an allium: smoky pickled onions.

Your first step in achieving smoky notes to your pickled onions is to get your grill fired up. Thinly coat your grill grate in oil, and use either onion rounds or onions-in-fourths with the stems trimmed ever so slightly. Feel free to char them to your liking, however, about three to five minutes will usually do. Next, simply pickle your onions as you normally would. If you're new to pickling, this Tasting Table recipe offers a sugar-free method of prepping tangy pickled onions and makes for a great starting point. The recipe calls for at least 3 hours of pickling time in the jar, but again, making adjustments based on your tastes is more than encouraged.

Are there other ways to add smoke to pickled onions?

Although grilling onions and then pickling them is a surefire way to imbue your hamburger and hot dog topping with a little smokiness, it isn't the only method. If you have an at-home smoke chamber of any kind, be it an outdoor Southern-style smokehouse or a handy in-home appliance, then you're equipped to start smoking some onions without a grill. After you've smoked your onions, you'll need to pack them in jars filled with your brine, the same as in the grilling method.

Once you've accomplished your desired balance of smoke and tang, you're ready to start dressing all your hamburgers, hot dogs, and more with this delicious topping. Sweet flavors tend to pair well with smoky ones, so try them atop hamburgers that delve into sweet profiles, like this bleu cheese, fig, and pear hamburger recipe from Tasting Table. You can also add them to practically any of the hot dogs on this Tasting Table roundup of choice recipes for when a wiener is calling your name.