The 12 Best Hot Dogs at the Grocery Store (Now with the Best Cocktail Wieners, Too)

The best hot dogs are snappy, meaty, and substantial. No matter what you call ‘em—franks, frankfurters, wieners, meat logs—they are an essential summertime food. Seriously, don’t bother inviting us to the cookout if you don’t have dogs for the grill. 
But what are the best hot dogs for cookout season? Over the course of three taste tests, we tried a truly upsetting number of hot dogs, including some regional favorites (we took your suggestions after our first taste test) and some big national brands. In our third taste test, we broadened our search to include the best cocktail wieners and the best stuffed dogs, too. We looked for three things in a good hot dog: snap, flavor, and size. Ideally, a good hot dog casing adds some extra texture. Being loaded full of spices isn’t always a plus, but if it adds to the overall experience without taking away from the meaty flavor of the hot dog, we like spice. Finally, the size: Hot dogs should fit inside of a standard hot dog bun comfortably, perhaps extending past the bun just a touch. We don’t want more bun than dog, okay? Here are the 12 best tasting hot dogs from the best hot dog brands, including the best beef hot dogs and the best Oscar Mayer hot dogs.

(Don’t eat beef and/or pork? Check out our rankings of the best turkey dogs and the best veggie dogs, too.)

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best hot dogs

Best Classic

Oscar Mayer Original Uncured Wieners

When it comes to the best hot dogs, these are a classic. Also, this whole time I thought it was spelled Oscar Meyer, not Oscar Mayer like John Mayer. Anyway, Oscar Mayer Original Uncured Wieners are squishy, spongey, salty, and have that classic hot dog taste. There is a bit of piquancy to an Oscar Mayer hot dog that sets it apart from other cheap, no-casing hot dogs. Personally, I love Oscar Mayer hot dogs because they work so well in so many dishes. They’re the best hot dogs to cut up and put into mac and cheese or do what South Texas does: Cook them with scrambled eggs and then stuff it all inside a taco. These aren’t the best Oscar Mayer hot dogs on this list, but you’ll be plenty happy if these land in your cart. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

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best less fat hot dogs

Best Less Fat

Wellshire Premium All-Natural Uncured Beef Franks

I probably wouldn’t have bought these dogs if I had just seen them at the store (the packaging isn’t very appealing; in my notes I wrote “too many words”), but don’t judge these hot dogs by their cover. These beef hot dogs are really thick and beefy, and the texture is dense and high quality. They aren’t as fatty and juicy as some other dogs, but they have 30 percent less fat than other beef ranks on the market and they are still some of the best tasting hot dogs we tried. —Gwynedd Stuart

Credit: Liv Averett / Whole Foods

Rating:

7.5/10

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best hot dogs

Best for a Cookout

Nathan’s Skinless Bun Length Beef Franks

Nathan’s hot dogs have good snap, in addition to being well balanced and tasty all around. You definitely want to grill a Nathan’s hot dog to get the most out of it both in terms of flavor and texture. The dogs themselves are sizable and the flavor is good without being overpowering. I like Nathan’s, and think that their combination of size and agreeable flavor make them the best hot dogs for summer cookouts or, of course, the best hot dog brand for a hot dog eating contest. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

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best store bought hot dogs

Best Gourmet

365 Uncured Beef Hot Dogs

Whole Foods hot dogs are loosely packed and deliciously tender. The casing has a great texture and keeps the juices in. These have more spice than most of the beef hot dogs we tasted, so they border on gourmet territory without involving wagyu or kobe beef. But I love gourmet hot dogs. This is the best hot dog to load up with fancy fixings. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Whole Foods

Rating:

8/10

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best hot dogs

Best Snap (Runner-Up)

Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters

Boar’s Head hot dogs come wrapped together like links of sausage hanging in a butcher shop, which is fun. And the taste and texture is incredible—you’d really think they came from a butcher shop rather than the grocery store. Boar’s Head beef franks have some extra spice and flavor, but they still maintain the true I-don’t-actually-know-what-this-is spirit of a hot dog. They have a great, natural flavor and a hard snap that plays well with a soft, squishy hot dog bun. The length is great, too—rest assured your first bite won’t be all bread. And they’re the best hot dogs to buy if you want people to think you got fancy and bought your dogs at the butcher. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

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best all beef hot dogs

Best Spice

Vienna Beef Franks

I lived in Chicago for a handful of years and definitely got down on some Vienna Beef hot dogs during that time. But prior to this taste test, I honestly couldn’t say whether I liked them or not because they’re always served with so much stuff—sport peppers, neon relish, dill pickle spears, tomato slices, and loads of celery salt. “Dragged through the garden,” so to speak. Tasting these plain for the first time was such a delight. They’re so uniquely spiced—I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what those spices are, but I’d describe them as “warm,” not to mention complementary to the delicious beef flavor. (According to Vienna Beef’s site, they’re made of “rich, red bull meat, sweet brisket trimmings, and spiced according to [their] original 1893 recipe”—it’s a good recipe.) These hot dogs don’t have a natural casing, but the snap is incredible all the same. Chicagoans know meat and these dogs are proof. They’re certainly the best beef hot dogs to make Chicago dogs, but feel free to have them simply on a bun with ketchup and mustard, too.  (Yeah, I said ketchup. Sue me!) —Gwynedd Stuart

Credit: Liv Averett / Albertsons

Rating:

9/10

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best cocktail wieners

Best Cocktail Wieners

Fork in the Road Little Goodies

Okay, first let me say this: Pretty much all cocktail wieners are absolutely delicious. I would eat my weight in Lit’l Smokies. And I typically prefer a beef/pork mixture in my cocktail wieners. We eat these every year for Christmas brunch in a breakfast strata with diced Lit’l Smokies (and an extra side of Lit’l Smokies). Next year, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Fork in the Road Little Goodies instead. They aren’t as smoky or as salty as Lit’l Smokies, but the flavor of the beef is outrageous. These are made from pasture raised cows and have no added nitrates or nitrites. There’s a “dash of gentle seasonings,” which is  a really good description. It’s a perfect blend of savory frankfurter spices—paprika, allspice, coriander, nutmeg, red pepper, and rosemary. These are the best cocktail wieners if you want mini hot dogs rather than mini smoked sausages. Someone please make pigs in a blanket with these and let me know how they are! —Gwynedd Stuart

Rating:

9/10

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best hot dogs

Best for Camping

Oscar Mayer Natural Angus

I didn’t expect Oscar Mayer dogs to rank this high on our list of the best hot dogs, but here we are! These Angus dogs are surprisingly delicious and undeniably some of the best hot dogs we tried. They’re not at all like the Oscar Mayer wieners you grew up on (although, we like those, too; see #10). These are firm and juicy and have excellent snap. My favorite thing about these? They’re so smoky! They kind of taste like they have bacon fat in the meat mix. These taste like camping even if you aren’t cooking them over fire (in fact, we cooked them in our trusty office toaster oven and they were still great). —Gwynedd Stuart

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

9.5/10

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oscar mayer stuffed dogs

Best Stuffed Dogs

Oscar Mayer Jalapeño Cheddar & Chili Cheese Stuffed

Even if the concept of a “stuffed” dog freaks you out a little, you should really try these Oscar Mayer hot dogs. Our editor-in-chief Justine Sterling is very goo averse, and she loved them. They recently released two new varieties: Jalapeño Cheddar and Chili Cheese. The former is a (hot dog-sized) smoked pork sausage packed with bright, spicy diced jalapeño and little bits of creamy cheddar cheese. With the smoke of the sausage and the heat from the peppers, it’s a brilliant bite of food. And the Chili Cheese dogs really blew everyone away—they taste exactly like Oscar Mayer wieners doused in chili and cheese. It’s kind of unreal! Buy either. Buy both. You kind of can’t go wrong. These are the best hot dogs if you want some of that cheesy ooze. —Gwynedd Stuart

Rating:

10/10

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best big hot dogs

Best Big

Kirkland Beef Hot Dogs

These are gigantic hot dogs and they are absolutely wonderful. Every single person on the Sporked tasting team liked them. Kirkland hot dogs are triple the size of normal hot dogs and triple the flavor, as well. I absolutely love how egregiously thick these hot dogs are. Something about them feels like Texas State Fair food; I’m in love with the meatiness of these big boys. I like how they protrude from both sides of the hot dog bun, so your first bite of the hot dog is just a giant hunk of salty, well-spiced meat. But they still work in traditional hot dog buns—no need to upgrade to sausage buns. Kirkland is the best hot dog brand to load up with toppings, too—onions, ketchup, relish, cheese sauce, and chili, whatever. The Kirkland hot dog can withstand any amount of pressure. This is a whole damn meal. This is the best hot dog to eat as a proper dinner. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

10/10

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best hot dogs

Best Snap

Sabrett Natural Casing Beef Frankfurters

When it comes to the best hot dogs, East Coasters have it good, and Sabrett is proof. I am not being hyperbolic when I say these are among the best tasting hot dogs I’ve ever tried. They’re incredibly juicy, the flavor is bold and beefy, and the casing is snappy without being tough. The snap is so excellent that Boar’s Head got downgraded! Honestly, these might have ranked #1 if they were easier to find at the store nationwide (sadly, West Coasters have to order them from Sabrett or from Amazon, where they’re kinda pricey). But if these are widely available in your region, buy them! And pick up a jar of their onion sauce while you’re at it. —Gwynedd Stuart

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

10/10

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hot dog ingredients

Best of the Best

Hebrew National Beef Franks

Hebrew National’s dogs are salty and meaty, and their girth (sorry) is absolutely perfect. These don’t have a huge amount of snap, but they have enough so you can still tell they’re made with a natural casing. The biggest score, though, is the spice blend. Hebrew National’s dogs are dense with wonderful flavor. Salt, spice, garlic powder, and paprika combine to create a juicy bite of beef (they’re all-beef hot dogs) that’s so good the hot dog starts to flavor the hot dog bun itself with its deliciously spiced beef juices. Maybe the snap could be better, but it’s damn near a perfect hot dog. These are the best beef hot dogs—and the best hot dogs, period—we tried in three separate taste tests. —Danny Palumbo

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Wagyu Beef Hot Dog from Snake River Farms

During a Good Mythical Morning blind taste test, Rhett got fancy with his pick, ya’ll. “For people who have class, like me, you can get a wagyu beef hot dog from Snake River Farms,” he said half jokingly. In the end, they both agreed that the Snake River Farms hot dog had a great snap and incredible flavor. Link argued that it’s got too pure of a flavor for a hot dog (he prefers mechanically separated). But, there’s a place for fancy food sometimes. Case in point: Snake River Farms wagyu beef hot dogs.


About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.