13 Things You Should Be Putting On Your Hot Dog, But Aren't

Hot dogs are the ultimate American comfort food. Whether you love your dogs grilled up in the backyard, served hot and fresh at the ballpark, or smothered in sophisticated toppings, there's almost certainly a hot dog style or type near and dear to your heart. You can find mouthwatering regional and local takes on hot dogs no matter where you live in the United States, or get your favorite dog patty-style instead of the traditional way in a bun.

Although ketchup and mustard will always be perennial hot dog topping favorites, there's a whole galaxy of different tastes and textures out there. From spicy to sweet to wonderfully off the wall and wacky, these are some of the new and adventurous foods that you should consider topping your next dog with. Best of all, you can find them at virtually any shop around the country or even in your pantry right now.

Crushed potato chips

Colombian perros calientes get a creative and crunchy twist, thanks to a handful of potato sticks or crushed chips, per Atlas Obscura. The combination is absolutely heavenly, with the crisp, salty chips playing off the meaty hot dog, soft bun, and oodles of tasty toppings. Sounds great, right? If you would like to try to make a Colombian style hot dog at home, just simply purchase a bag of potato chips or sticks, crumble them on top, and let the magic begin.

Another way these dogs get sufficiently dressed up is the salsa rosada, or pink sauce. It's a combination of mayonnaise and ketchup that adds a hearty, delicious zing to your dog. Toss on some fresh slaw, salsa, and pickles if you want to get really fancy. Or, you can dial it back and give your standard mustard and ketchup dog a little sprinkle of chips.

Tomatoes and feta cheese

According to one Redditor, it doesn't get much finer than a hot dog piled high with tomatoes, feta, and maybe an olive or two. This fresh Greek-inspired combo works because it cuts back on the fat from the hot dog itself and infuses bold and bright flavors in every bite. Since we already know that ketchup and hot dogs work wonders together, it's not surprising that chunks of tomato accomplish the same thing. The feta adds a sharp, cheesy bite that pairs perfectly with ripe, juicy tomato slices.

Add a few cucumber moons to the mix if you want to go full-on. Although cucumber might seem like a strange topping for your favorite hot dog, the coolness of the veggie works in brilliant contrast with the hot dog itself. Finally, homemade or store-bought tzatziki rounds off the dish. While you don't technically need it, the tanginess and creaminess of the sauce wraps it all together.

Kimchi

Kimchi is one of Korea's best-loved and most versatile condiments. This sour slaw is astonishingly multi-faceted, with deep layers of flavor and texture that can literally and figuratively spice up your hot dog. Although it's akin to sauerkraut, kimchi packs a little more flavor, with notes that are both familiar and exciting all at the same time. So if you love slaw or sauerkraut on your hot dogs, there's a good chance that you'll find kimchi right up your alley.

Per Scotsman, savvy foodies can find kimchi dogs on menus all over the world, but you can also make them right at home. Since plenty of specialty stores and even larger traditional convenience stores carry the condiment. If you're wondering what else you can slather your kimchi on, you're in luck. There are many different ways that kimchi can elevate even the most humble dishes. So get creative, and prepare to rock your tastebuds.

Sautéed or caramelized onions

Although freshly chopped onions are, as noted by NPR, the ideal companion to any tasty hot dog, there's something simply divine about sautéed or caramelized onions. As with many of the other toppings on our list, slow-cooked onions bring a satisfying dose of sweetness to your charred hot dog. Plus, texturally, they go well with a crunchy, toasted bun and a nicely cooked dog and are one of the more gourmet toppings on our list.

The key to melt-in-your-mouth caramelized onions is patience. These babies have to cook low and slow until they get that golden, richly caramel-colored hue and fantastic flavor. Per Slate, a bit of butter, some olive oil, and sliced onion, plus at least 45 minutes, is all you need to dive headfirst into sweet onion heaven. But, if you're looking for a textural difference, you can also throw in some raw or fried onions for contrast and some additional flavor.

Avocado and salsa

The Sonoran hot dog is one of the country's most beloved regional hot dog styles. Although every corner of Arizona does them differently, there are a few key things that you'll find on these bacon-wrapped beauties, including avocado and salsa. Whether your salsa is hot, medium, or mild, your avocado is whole or mashed into a silky guacamole doesn't matter much. What's truly vital is the pairing of both of these yin and yang ingredients – one bringing the heat and the other bringing the cool smoothness of fresh avocado.

According to Latino USA, the Sonoran hot dog is an iconic street food crowned with everything imaginable, like pinto beans, mushrooms, peppers, and condiments. Still, the base is almost always the same: a beautiful foundation of chunky, fresh salsa and ripe avocado. You can duplicate it yourself at home with homemade or canned salsa and thinly sliced or smashed avo.

Pineapple

As noted by the BBC, pineapple on pizza is about as polarizing as it gets, although most people will tell you not to knock it until you've tried it. The same goes for hot dogs, which get a fruity glow up from some sunny-hued pineapple salsa piled on top. Known as the hula dog, this fantastic dish originated in Hawaii. Per OC Register, it made its way to the mainland, thanks to the twin flavors of sweet, tropical pineapple, and sriracha.

Although you can get super fancy and make your hula dog with pineapple salsa, some purists love to simply pile on the fruit and enjoy the delicate dance of sweet and savory. Although sriracha is the original hula dog spice, you can use any hot sauce that you have on hand or simply forgo it altogether. The beauty of this sweet and sassy dog is its simplicity and unexpected flavor profile.

Melted cheese

When you think of hot dogs and cheese, do you picture that neon yellow gas station goo? If so, it's time to upgrade your thinking. Good melted cheese is phenomenal on hot dogs, and it doesn't have to be of the Frankenfood variety. Think brie, gruyere, or smoky sharp cheddar. Once you have your satiny, creamy blanket of premium cheese, you can dress your dog up any way that you'd like. Chili is phenomenal with cheese dogs, and fried onions give the dog a little extra kick and texture.

You can even opt for several different cheeses for varying tastes and flavors or look to the Midwest for cheesy inspiration. There, designer cheese dogs are a regional favorite, and you can find them on tons of different menus. For example, in Kansas City, hungry diners can scarf down a hot dog loaded up with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, per Hotdog.org.

Roasted corn

The best hot dog toppings are all about contrast. Piling freshly roasted corn on top of a perfectly cooked hot dog and a piping hot bun is an excellent example of execution and primo flavor pairing. As Food Network points out, sweet roasted corn compliments the richness of a meaty hot dog, and you can brighten up the whole thing with some citrus.

If you like your dogs hot, throw on some chili powder, jalapenos, or even a little cheese. A mix of hot sauce and mayo wouldn't be amiss either. Purists can simply go with the corn and the hot dog, reveling in the sophisticated interplay of flavors and textures. Although you can get this masterpiece in plenty of places all around the country, it's easy enough to replicate at home. Just make sure that you use fresh, not canned corn, and roast it to perfection before loading it on your dog.

Cream cheese

Although some might find the decadent combination of cream cheese and hot dogs a little too rich for their tastes, others think it's simply superb. The Seattle dog, slathered in cream cheese and sprinkled liberally with chives, is a regional favorite and something that you need to taste to truly believe. As noted in Seattle Weekly's oral history of the dish, the Seattle-style hot dog launched into being through a happy accident when Hadley Longe, a bagel guy working in Pioneer Square, found himself with a long list of hungry customers who were craving hot dogs instead of bagels.

Inventively, he popped a hot dog on a bagel, smeared it with cream cheese, and started a phenomenal trend that persists in Seattle until today. If you want to try a cream cheese dog at home, make sure that you have something to cut the richness of the meat and dairy. Some thinly sliced jalapeños do nicely and lend a new flavor dimension to the dish.

Cranberry sauce

If you want to make your hot dog a bit extra-festive, consider giving it a delicious makeover with a splash of cranberry sauce. What San Francisco Eater dubs "Thanksgiving on a bun" is a sweet and savory treat that's deceptively simple to make but brings some serious flavor layers and nuance. You also don't need to get too fancy with it. Canned cranberry sauce works perfectly well, especially if you add a textural element like crispy fried onions, chips, or panko crumbs to the mix.

If you think the combo of sweet and tart cranberry sauce and a meaty hot dog is a little bizarre, consider that one of America's best-loved iconic foods fits this flavor profile. According to Food52, grape jelly and meatballs have been going strong since the 1960s. The cranberry sauce hot dog is just a tiny twist on a familiar classic, and it's bound to turn heads at your next barbecue.

Macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of the world's cherished and classic comfort foods. While it works perfectly well as a sidekick for your hot dog, true connoisseurs know that the best way to do it up properly is to load your macaroni and cheese right onto the dog itself. As Delaware Online notes, many restaurants offer versions of this delicious duo, but you can certainly make it yourself right at home.

All you need is a few generous scoops of store-bought or homemade macaroni and cheese, a perfectly grilled dog, and a sturdy bun. Since the mac and cheese tends to get pretty heavy and goopy, it's good to toast your buns before loading them up, especially if you're adding other tasties like bacon bits or crushed potato chips. Also, make sure that you have plenty of napkins on hand. This is one sloppy lil slice of heaven.

Ranch dressing

When it comes to toppings, ranch dressing is in a league of its own, per Thrillist. People slather this undisputed king of condiments on everything from chicken wings to garden salads, so why not try it with the humble hot dog? If you want to make your hot dog shine, swap out ketchup or mustard for a generous drizzle of ranch dressing. It adds a creamy, tangy vibe to the hot dog that goes well with another topping fave on our list — potato chips.

Thanks to its inspired flavor profile, the ranch/hot dog craze is picking up plenty of steam. So whether you use store-bought, or make your own restaurant-quality ranch dressing rendition, try this unexpected and fun flavor combo this summer. It might not be the most outside-the-box topping, but you might find yourself swearing off the ketchup and mustard forever and discovering a whole new dimension of ranch dressing.

Pesto

According to Rachel Ray Magazine, pesto is an excellent, bright, herbaceous topping for your hot dog. Packed with plenty of cheese, garlic, basil, nuts, and oil, pesto is straight-up yummy and can add a dose of springtime to an otherwise heavy meal. However, if you opt to top your dog with pesto, be careful of competing flavors. Pesto tends to be stronger, so it plays nicely with creamier dressings like mayonnaise.

It's also intensely flavorful, so a little drizzle will definitely do for you. If you want to get really varsity level, consider tossing a few basil leaves in a toasted bun before loading up your dog with a squirt of pesto. The contrasting textures will make the dish sing and certainly give you a brand-new hot dog tasting experience like no other. So give pesto dogs a shot this late spring or summer. You seriously will not regret it.