Why You Shouldn't Leave Hot Dogs In Boiling Water

Head to almost any baseball game, tailgate party, or backyard picnic, and you'll most likely come across the meaty aromatics of a simple hot dog. Placed between the folds of a fluffy hot dog bun and topped with the essentials like mustard and relish, hot dog meat is soft on the inside and "snappy" on the outside. It's also primarily comprised of animal muscle (such as pork, turkey, or beef muscle), as well as seasonings like coriander, ground mustard, and garlic (via the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council).

The ultimate hot dog can be prepared in a multitude of ways. One of the more popular ones is grilling, which colors the exterior with those coveted charred grilled marks and adds a mouth-watering smoky flavor. But for those who don't have a grill, the use of a frying pan, an oven, a microwave, and a pot of boiling water works well too. Boiled water presents a problem though for some home cooks, as there is often confusion as to whether or not hot dogs should be left to sit in said scalding hot temperatures. Here's why that's a big no-no.

How long should hot dogs be left in boiling water?

Let's start with this fundamental question: how should you cook hot dogs in boiling water? Well according to Food52, it's a pretty simple process. Boil some water, add your hot dogs in, and let them swim around for 4-6 minutes (don't cover the pot with a lid). Remove the hot dogs when they start to look plump and let them rest on a plate lined with paper towels.

Other food blogs like The Kitchen Community and Your Cooking Buddy also (roughly) highlight the above time frame for boiling hot dogs, which begs the question, what happens when hot dogs sit in the pot for too long? Hot Dog Profits states that they'll get mushy and emphasizes that hot dogs should never be left in boiling water. Lacademie goes on to explain that over boiled hot dogs won't taste as good, their texture will be off, and they might even burst.

Hot Dog Profits prevents split hot dogs and mushy textures by placing the boiled hot dogs in a steamer to keep them warm. This is useful for parties and events, but if you're planning on eating them immediately, the paper-lined plate trick from above works just as well too.

So in short, boil hot dogs for about 5 minutes or so and remove them immediately to prevent changes in aesthetics, textures, and flavors.