If you are craving burnt ends, but don’t have the time to smoke a brisket, give this alternative recipe a shot. You won’t be disappointed in Hot Dog Burnt Ends! Best of all, it takes just a fraction of the time!
🍽️ Why This Works
Easy – Seriously, this appetizer recipe doesn’t take a lot of know-how! Essentially, you smoke the hot dogs and then make a tangy BBQ sauce.
Scalable – I needed to take a party tray to a football party, and it was super easy to just buy a few more packages of hot dogs.
Everyone Loves it – This is not an exaggeration! I had a bunch of toothpicks for folks to pick out one or two for their plate, but they emptied the pan in record time! I know for next time to double the recipe. This will be a huge hit for your next BBQ cookout!
Hot Dogs – I used Nathan’s Beef Hot Dogs, but grab whatever variety you want. I only used two packages, but in hindsight, I should have bought more.
Dry Rub – Meat Church’s all-purpose Gospel Dry Rub was a safe selection. Use what spice mixture you have on hand, or go for one of the classics. To get it to bind to the hot dogs, mix the franks with some yellow mustard.
BBQ Sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s is my go-to BBQ sauce. It never lets me down.
Teriyaki Sauce – We wanted the sauce to be a bit sweet and a bit tangy. The Teriyaki sauce mixes well with the BBQ sauce and then the brown sugar is added to pull the two sauces together.
Butter – You can never go wrong with adding a stick of butter! It makes everything taste better!
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
✔️Smoker or Grill. We’re using the Big Green Egg as a smoker and grill with excellent results. You can also use the Traeger or another pellet smoker, electric smoker, offset smoker or charcoal smoker. The same applies to gas grills, pellet grills, and charcoal grills.
✔️Ziploc Bags – This is my not-too-secret favorite grilling accessory. I added all the hot dogs to a bag and added some mustard to serve as a binding agent for the BBQ rub.
✔️Disposable Aluminum Pan – Since I was taking these to a friend’s house for a ball game, I did all the grilling in this pan. It is disposable, so I didn’t have to worry about bringing it home and cleaning it.
✔️Glass Bowl – I found it easier to use a glass bowl to mix all of the sauce with the franks. You could do it in the disposable pan, but this was easier.
✔️Wood Chips, Chunks Or Pellets – This is a great recipe for a bold-flavored wood like mesquite, hickory, or oak. If you aren’t sure you’ll like the smoky flavor, stick with a more mild variety like cherry, pecan, or apple. For a more detailed discussion, check out our wood pairing cheat sheet.
Step One: Add the hot dogs to a Ziploc Bag and squeeze in some yellow mustard. The mustard is thick enough to stick to the franks. Work it around in your hands to slather it and make sure they are evenly coated. Give it a good shake for good measure. You really don’t need a lot.
Step Two: Sprinkle the barbecue rub on the hot dogs. They should be liberally coated.
Note: You won’t taste the yellow mustard after they smoke. I don’t understand the science behind it, but the flavor of the mustard completely disappears! If you know the answer, please leave a comment below.
Step Three: Preheat the grill or smoker to 250°F. Add wood chips to create a nice, gentle smoke. This is a good time to use a bold flavor like mesquite or hickory. We have a more in-depth article on smoked hot dogs if you want to keep a few for the kids.
Step Four: Add the franks straight on the grill grates or add them to a high rack, close the lid, and let them smoke for about 1 – 1½ hours. You’ll notice them darken nicely.
Step Five: Remove them from the grill or the wire rack and slice each hotdog into four pieces.
Step Six: Add the hot dog pieces and the remaining ingredients into a glass bowl and stir to coat thoroughly. Scoop the hot dogs out of the bowl and into the disposable baking pan.
Note: Don’t pour the entire bowl into the aluminum pan. There will probably be some excess sauce, and that will pool on the bottom of the pan.
Step Seven: Turn the grill’s temperature up to 350°F. Place the pan on the grill and let the coated hotdogs cook for another 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice. You’ll see the sauce start to caramelize and become sticky. That is PERFECT!
Step Eight: Remove from the grill, let stand for 10 minutes, and then serve the hot dog burnt ends warm. I found it best to use toothpicks for your guests to take their portions.
How To Make Hot Dog Burnt Ends In The Air Fryer
If you don’t have a grill you can still enjoy some hot dog burnt ends and the air fryer will let you control their crispiness. I also appreciate the super fast cooking time and always rely on it when I’m in a rush.
- Prep the hot dogs as discussed above and preheat the air fryer to 370°F for 5 minutes.
- Lightly coat the basket with cooking oil and cook the hot dogs for 5 minutes.
- Take the hot dogs out and cut them into 4 pieces.
- Add the ingredients of the burnt end sauce to a glass bowl and the hot dog pieces. Toss the hot dogs until they’re all covered in sauce.
- Scoop the hot dogs from the bowl and transfer them to the air fryer basket.
- Cook for another 3-5 minutes and give the basket a good shake halfway through.
How To Make Hot Dog Burnt Ends In The Oven
Sometimes you have to work with what you have and when it comes to hot dog burnt ends your trusty oven won’t let you down.
- Preheat the oven to 275°F.
- Season the hot dogs as discussed above in the grilling instructions section.
- Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Bake for one hour.
- Remove hot dogs from the oven and slice them into 4 pieces.
- Increase the temperature of the oven to 350°F.
- Make the BBQ sauce as described in step six of the grilling instructions. Toss the hot dog pieces in the sauce until evenly covered.
- Transfer the hot dogs to the baking sheet and bake for another 30 minutes.
- Give them a good mix once or twice as they cook.
Tip: The air fryer and oven are great for crisping up hot dogs. What they don’t give is that wonderful smoky flavor you get from a grill or a smoker. A small amount of liquid smoke added to the burnt end sauce will fix the problem!
❗ Expert Tips
👉Check the pan for excess sauce. If you notice the sauce pooling, remove it. The sugars will not caramelize well if it is a “soup”.
👉Smoke more hot dogs than you think you need. It is no more work to add another package or two, but then you’ll have plenty for your guests.
👉If using a Kamado grill, keep the plate setter on for the entire cook. You’ll need it for the smoking phase.
👉For the second half of the recipe, just open the top and bottom vents to increase the temperature. A pellet smoker like Traeger or Recteq, is easier to dial in the temperature.
👉Gas grills can be configured for indirect heating by only using the outside burners. You may want an aluminum smoking box to provide the smoke.
👉Instead of heating up the grill to 350°F and finishing the recipe there, you can set your oven to the same temperature, add the disposable tinfoil pan filled with the hot dog burnt ends, and let them cook for 30-45 minutes.
Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in a ziplock bag or an airtight container. I never had the chance to test that out. These are some of the first snacks to be devoured at our game days.
I often smoke hot dogs in advance. That is the most time-consuming part of this dish and you can do it a day or two ahead.
After they have smoked and cooled, place them in a tightly sealed Ziploc bag in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make the burnt ends, just take them out and add them to the mix.
Note: Keep in mind that cooked hot dogs stay safe to eat for up to 4 days in the fridge. Make sure you eat them within the recommended timeframe!
🌶️Additions & Substitutions
Traditional burnt ends use smoked brisket (beef) or pork belly with a sweet rub and barbecue sauce, and this delicious twist on the recipe is definitely kid-friendly. It’s always a good idea to make a double batch of the rub. It keeps well and you’ll have some for the next time you wanna BBQ.
- Mix up the sauce. This is infinitely customizable. Pick your favorite homemade BBQ sauce, add some smoked paprika, hot peppers, or throw in some molasses or maple syrup. I think it pairs best with a spicy and sweet BBQ sauce, or tangy and sweet flavors like my cherry Bourbon BBQ sauce recipe. Keep it fairly mild if your kids will be snacking on them too.
- Substitute brown sugar with honey and you’ll get a different flavor profile for the sauce but just as lovely. Use 1/3 cup of honey for every 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
- There are several different varieties of hot dogs to choose from. We chose an all-beef variety from Nathan’s, but definitely use your favorites.
- For another serving option, we love using some tiny buns like the Hawaiian Rolls or potato rolls and let the guests make their own sliders.
- Offer some toppings such as lettuce, pickles, bacon, and onions for them to stack. Heck, grab some standard hot dog buns, put a few in the crease, and serve.
🥨 Serving Suggestions
These are a fun game day treat and there’s an endless number of sides for hot dogs to choose from! If you have the smoker going already, try some queso ranch smoked Cheez-Its or smoked trail mix. These are a crunchy snack that is always a hit.
If you try those, add some smoked pretzels to the grill as well. They are packed with garlic goodness!
A nice smoked trout dip is a crowd-pleaser as well. You can use salmon too, if you don’t have any trout.
More Burnt Ends Recipes
Hot dog burnt ends are a variation (and a fun one) of the classic poor man’s burnt ends recipe. Yes, it will take longer because you need to smoke a whole chuck roast or beef brisket first, but the resulting meat is fantastic!
As a close relative to the hot dog recipe, these bologna burnt ends will be met with the same enthusiasm and are also way easier and faster than the traditional brisket or chuck burnt ends.
Typically, this is made with chunks of smoked beef brisket but can be done with chuck roast, bologna, or in this case beef hot dogs.
After smoking the franks, mix with a sauce and then turn up the heat to 350°F to caramelize the sugars. This will make the sauce sticky and so delicious!
Traditionally, this recipe was made with the point of a brisket. This part of the cut takes a lot longer to cook and break down the connective tissue to soften the meat. This lengthy process is associated with the term “burnt ends.”
The well-known hot dog taste blends with the sweetness of the seasoning and caramelized BBQ sauce topped by a rich smoky flavor. Texture-wise, they should be juicy on the inside and a little sticky on the outside, which makes them even more irresistible. Don’t expect leftovers!
The traditional burnt ends always use the brisket point cut. Popular recipe variations exist and use other types of meat such as pork belly, hot dogs, and other beef cuts like chuck roast.
Tried this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. You can also stay in touch with me through social media by following me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook!
Hot Dog Burnt Ends
- Disposable Aluminum Pan
- Ziploc Bag
- 2 packages Hot Dogs beef
- ¼ cup Yellow Mustard
- ⅛ cup Dry Rub
Burnt End Sauce
- ¼ cup Teriyaki Sauce
- ¾ cup BBQ Sauce
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Butter
- Place the hot dogs in a large Ziploc bag. Add the mustard and work the bag until the hot dogs are evenly coated.
- Sprinkle the Dry Rub on liberally.
- Preheat the grill to 250°F using indirect heat. Add your favorite wood chips. I used Hickory.
- Place the hot dogs directly on the grill grate, close the lid, and let them smoke for 90 minutes. They will have darkened nicely.
- Remove the hot dogs and cut them into quarters.
- Place the smoked hotdogs and the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir well, ensure the hotdogs are coated. Scoop the mixture into a disposable aluminum pan, making sure not to add any excess sauce.
- Bring the grill's temperature up to 350°F. Place the pan on the grill and let them cook for 20 minutes.
- The sauce will become sticky as the sugars caramelize. Stir a few times and remove.
- Let this rest for 10 minutes before serving.