Hot dog cooking methods are almost as varied as the ways to serve them. You can boil them, steam them, grill them, microwave them and even bake them in the oven. The method you chose depends on what equipment you have, where you'll be cooking them and how you prefer them to taste. For example, steamed hot dogs have a clean, simple flavor, while grilled hot dogs take on a smokey or charred flavor. It's almost impossible to mess up steaming hot dogs, so if you're kitchen-challenged, this may be the perfect method for you.
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In Hot Water
The usual way to steam a hot dog is on the stove. The simplest way to do this is with a skillet with a lid. Place the hot dogs in the skillet, add 1 inch of water to the bottom and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook on high heat and add more water if you run out of steam before the hot dogs are fully cooked. If you have a pot with a steamer basket, fill the pot halfway with water, place the steamer basket on top of the pot, add the hot dogs and cover with a lid. Cook on high heat to boil the water and get the steam going.
The Power of Electricity
If you have a countertop steamer or a microwave, you can use either appliance to steam hot dogs. Steamer models vary, but most involve filling a water reservoir, setting the proper temperature and placing the food in the steaming basket. Allow the food to steam until the hot dogs reach an internal temperature or 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer. To steam hot dogs in the microwave, put them in a microwave-safe bowl, add 1 inch of water to the bottom, cover with plastic wrap and cook until the water heats up and the hot dogs have been steaming for at least two minutes. Check the temperature of the hot dogs, then cook in additional one-minute increments until they're hot enough.
Hot Hot Dogs
It doesn't take long for bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels in hot dogs. You should cook hot dogs to an internal temperature or 165 F to kill bacteria. If you don't have a meat thermometer, a properly cooked hot dog will appear steaming hot all the way through the center when you break it in half. If you're not eating the hot dogs right away, keep them warm at or above 140 F to prevent bacterial growth.
Hot dogs, even if pre-cooked, are breeding grounds for illness-causing bacteria. When you buy them, make sure you either cook them or get them into the refrigerator within an hour or two. When you open the packaging, make sure you don't spill any liquid or juices and throw the package away immediately. The juices, as well as the packaging, can contaminate your hands, cookware, counter tops, dishes and utensils.