Why It's Usually A Bad Idea To Grill Boiled Hotdogs

There's a reason the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest brings over 40,000 fans to Coney Island every year. In 2013, when Joey Chestnut downed 73 franks in under 10 minutes, it wasn't a sideshow act or even a novelty spectacle –- it was a sport. That's why the contest is broadcast on ESPN, where it consistently draws around two million viewers.

The question isn't "why are hotdogs so great?" The question is, "what are hotdogs, anyway?" According to an official definition by the FDA, hotdogs are link-shaped sausages that are pre-cooked or smoked "according to the federal standards of identity" for meat content regulation. So — we'll get back to you on that.

The real question hot dog fans want the answer to is -– grill, boil, or both? Unlike the ingredients list of the wiener, the answer is pretty straightforward: you shouldn't boil before grilling. Here's why.

Pan-searing is a flavor saver

According to The Kitchen Community, boiling your hotdogs before grilling can strip away their flavor. To keep those dogs barking, stick to just one method or the other. Wiener giant Nathan's says of boiling, "Honestly we just don't recommend it. We didn't back in 1916 when Nathan Handwerker started it all, and we still don't today."

Trish Hoss of Missouri meat market advises against throwing hot dogs on the grill cold. Always wait, she says, until they've reached room temperature before grilling to ensure a thorough cook, via TODAY. This is the reason many folks turn to boiling as a method of defrosting frozen franks. Instead, chef and restaurateur Elias Cairo recommends a 3-5 minute pot simmer. Simmer those dogs in a couple of inches of water on the stove before grilling for an even cook that avoids the stripping qualities of boiling, Cairo says, via the news outlet. Your ultimate hot dog will thank you.

Or, for extra fervid frankfurter fans, break out a more flavorful liquid than water. We're talking about beer. Simmering your hotdogs in beer will infuse the meat with added flavor that becomes even smokier when the grill marks hit. Food52 reports that a beer boil makes for a plump, succulent frankfurter that "tastes more like a hot dog than any other hot dog."