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Here’s everything you’ll need to set up a crowd-pleasing hot dog bar with toppings, sides, specialty hot dog ideas, and more.

hot dog bar with some ingredients and some prepared hot dogs on a tray
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Why we love this recipe

From holiday cookouts to game day to birthday parties, a fabulous hot dog bar makes an easy, flexible buffet. This recipe:

  • Has something for everyone
  • Can include as many or as few homemade elements as you like
  • Gives people lots of options for creating their perfect gourmet hot dog, without creating overwhelm
  • Can easily be customized to your own preferences
  • Sneakily includes plenty of veggies and protein

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

hot dog bar ingredients

The dogs

Even though it’s called a hot dog bar (hey, sausage party was taken), I like to include a variety of sausages. As a general rule, allow two per person. Some favorites include:

  • Good-quality franks, like these all-beef ones from grass-fed cows. I try to apply the same standards to my meat-buying regardless of whether we’re talking steaks and chops or burgers and dogs. If you like, you can learn more about my sourcing below. You can of course do whatever works for you.
  • One of two other types of sausage to add to the mix, so people can mix up their flavor profiles. Here I’ve pictured a fully-cooked hot Italian sausage and a gruyere and apple chicken sausage, but you can choose your favorites.
  • A good vegan option, if it suits the crowd. For years I’ve been a big fan of Field Roast for vegan franks with fabulous taste, texture, and ease of preparation.

The buns

Truth be told, I frequently anchor a big platter like this with a single type of bun, since there are so many other options and it helps limit decision fatigue. But it can be fun to include multiple options, too. Here are some great choices:

  • If you want to get really next-level, make my homemade top-split hot dog buns. They’re SO good.
  • Or be a normal person (like I was for the photos) and use a good-quality store-bought hot dog bun of any style. White, multigrain, brioche, potato — it’s all good.
  • Some next-level options, try pretzel rolls, small hoagie rolls (especially if you’re offering Italian sausages and peppers and onions), 6-inch corn or flour tortillas, and maybe a grain-free or low-carb option like lettuce leaves.

The condiments

The sky’s the limit when adding these easy options to your hot dog bar. I like to include:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard (sometimes multiple types)
  • Finely diced white onion
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickled jalapeño
  • Sweet pickle relish

The cheese

Cheese gets its own category. Sorry not sorry.

  • Here I’ve pictured some good-quality organic American slices cut in half so they can easily be nestled between a bun and a dog.
  • Shredded extra-sharp cheddar, pepper jack, smoked gouda, or gruyere would make a great option
  • Or a good cheese sauce (try Mornay, pretzel cheese dip, or a great vegan version)

The sides that double as toppings

You can really get creative here. There are so many great side dishes that also work well for piling onto a frankfurter. You can buy them or make them in advance. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Macaroni and cheese is a crowd-pleaser and a substantial option for any outliers in the crowd who may not be frank-friendly. Here are my two favorite recipes: Instant Pot and baked.
  • Coleslaw adds freshness and tons of flavor. Here’s my favorite recipe.
  • Peppers and onions work well with both hot dogs and a lot of styles of sausage. Here’s how to make them.
  • Baked beans are another great, filling, plant-based option that could practically make a meal on their own and also pair perfectly with dogs. I rarely make my own since there are so many tasty canned options in various styles.
  • Potato chips (and/or other types of chips) provide crunch and general joy, and they couldn’t be easier to add to the mix.
  • I haven’t pictured chili here and don’t usually include it myself, but it’s a strong contender, too, as are caramelized onions.

My favorite sources for meat & pantry staples

For years, I’ve been sourcing our meat from ButcherBox. We love this curated meat delivery service, which provides grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, organic chicken, and more from small farms direct to the customer. You can learn more in my extensive Butcher Box review and unboxing.

I love Thrive Market for a wide variety of products. Often described as one part Whole Foods, one part Costco, they’re a membership-based online market for healthier products at discounted prices. Plus, they’re mission-driven, engaged in the community, and not currently owned by a giant corporation. You can learn more in my Thrive Market review and unboxing.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to create a fabulous hot dog bar. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll make or otherwise source the coleslaw, mac and cheese, baked beans, and peppers and onions.
  2. Cook the hot dogs and sausages and toast the buns if you like.
  3. Layer on the condiments.
  4. Add cheese, chips, and any other fun elements, and serve. That’s it!

Suggested specialty dogs

I almost hesitate to make suggestions, since half the fun is coming up with your own combinations. But here are a few tried-and-true classics to get you started.

  • Classic Dog: Keep it simple with mustard, ketchup, and optional relish or sauerkraut.
  • Picnic Dog: Add mustard, coleslaw, baked beans, and maybe mac and cheese.
  • Italian Dog: Start with Italian sausage and add peppers and onions. I like ketchup on this combo, but I’m sure that will be hotly debated.
  • French Dog: Start with a gruyere and apple sausage and layer on cheese, dijon mustard, and caramelized onions
  • Crunch Dog: Start with a classic dog and add potato chips

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

You can do a lot of the prep in advance, including making or buying all of the side dishes and prepping any condiments that need prepping. Cook the sausages, toast the buns, and assemble the platter right before serving.

Store leftovers in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week.

More favorite party platters

hot dog bar ingredients on bowls and on a platter

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hot dog bar with some ingredients and some prepared hot dogs on a tray
5 from 2 votes

Hot Dog Bar

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Here's everything you'll need to set up a crowd-pleasing hot dog bar with toppings, sides, specialty hot dog ideas, and more. Please refer to the post above for lots more information about ingredient choices.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 recipe macaroni and cheese
  • 1 recipe coleslaw
  • 1 recipe peppers and onions
  • 1 recipe caramelized onions
  • 1 28- ounce 794-gram can baked beans
  • 8 good-quality hot dogs
  • 8 fully-cooked sausages of your choice
  • 16 hot dog buns
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) sliced or shredded cheese or cheese sauce
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 2 cups (224 grams) sauerkraut
  • 1 cup (280 grams) ketchup
  • ½ cup (120 grams) yellow mustard
  • ½ cup (120 grams) dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • ½ cup (127 grams) pickled jalapeños (sliced or diced)
  • 1 family-size bag potato chips

Instructions 

  • Prepare the mac and cheese, coleslaw, peppers and onions, and/or caramelized onions up to a couple of days in advance if you like. Reheat and arrange in bowls, along with the baked beans.
  • Cook the hot dogs and sausages, and toast the buns if you like, on the grill or stovetop.
  • Arrange condiments, either in bowls or, where applicable, in their original containers.
  • Layer on the potato chips.

Notes

Store leftovers in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 821kcal, Carbohydrates: 123g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 50mg, Sodium: 2410mg, Fiber: 19g, Sugar: 40g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Platters
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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