This Grilled Vegetable Is The Answer For The Absolute Best Vegan Hot Dog

There's a vegan answer to every meaty question. Meat eaters may try to convince vegans that nothing can come close to a beef burger or a piece of fried chicken, but vegans have the power of creativity on their side. Plus, vegan takes on traditionally meaty foods don't need to be exact replicas — plant-based copycats produced by companies like Impossible Foods already exist for this purpose. In fact, once you realize that a perfect meat replica is hard to accomplish, you may want to open up your mind to more possibilities. Such is the case with the carrot hot dog.

A carrot may not taste anything like a hot dog on its own, but with a little bit of seasoning and grilling, it fits right into a hot dog bun. When the time comes to transform them into hot dogs, carrots already have their shape going for them. They're similar to hot dogs in width and can be cut to the proper length.

Where carrots differ the most is in texture. Hot dogs have a snappy casing and a chewy center, while carrots are softer and more fleshy when grilled. Since there's no way to avoid this, transform your carrots by focusing on flavor instead. Carrots are naturally sweet and have a root-like taste, which means they need a deep, savory flavor to reasonably mimic a hot dog.

A good marinade is essential for vegan hot dogs

Before carrot hot dogs can go on the grill, they need a good marinade. Steaming or boiling them first will soften their flesh ahead of time and allow them to absorb maximum flavor. If you want to go the extra mile, poke holes in them so your seasoning can seep inside.

The marinade should contain a balance of savory, tangy, and salty flavors, much like those found in our homemade carrot bacon recipe. Soy sauce is a salty, umami game-changer, and apple cider vinegar can balance it with a bit of tang; these are both potent ingredients, so mixing them into a vegetable broth base is a good place to start. Then, other seasonings can dictate what kind of hot dogs the carrots will be replicating. A standard American hot dog is seasoned with paprika and garlic, but a Bratwurst contains additional spices like coriander, ginger, and nutmeg. You can even make your carrot mimic Italian sausage with herbs like parsley and fennel.

The longer your carrots rest in the marinade, the more flavorful they'll be — a good night's rest is plenty of time to make them grill-ready. Char from the grill adds even more smokey flavor, but the toppings will pull everything together. Typical hot dog toppings like mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, or those found in this vegan Chicago-style hot dog recipe will complete the carrot's hot dog disguise.