Food & Drink

The Best Beef Hot Dog Brands: Our Taste Test Results

Oscar Mayer, Nathan's, Ball Park ... who makes the best affordable wieners? Three pros conduct a taste test.

It wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted to shop for a hot dog, your options were limited to brands like Nathan’s, Hebrew National and Oscar Mayer. And because America has great taste, those brands are still around! But swing by any grocery store and prepare to be overwhelmed with a seemingly endless variety of dogs from those previously mentioned purveyors, along with weiners from Bar S, Applegate and many more.

To help you select only the finest dogs this summer, we rounded up three tubed meat experts ― River Bear Meats’ Justin Brunson, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs’ Jim Pittenger and Denver Burger Battle founder Jeremy Kossler ― to blindly taste 10 popular brands of dogs and weigh in on which ones are worth your money. We tasted everything from organic to affordable weiners, and from skin-on to skinless. Which hot dogs are worth throwing on the grill? We’ll tell you.

As always, this taste test was in no way influenced or sponsored by any of the brands included.

#10: Ball Park Angus Beef Hot Dogs

“The texture is like cottage cheese in a sock.” “Super oily, and the color looks artificial.” “They’re trying to mask the poor quality with chemicals and fillers.”

Ingredients: Angus beef, water, corn syrup, contains 2% or less: salt, potassium lactate, natural flavor (including celery juice powder), monosodium glutamate, sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, sea salt, extractives of paprika

#9: Applegate Organics The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog

“That is a mushy weenie.” “Pretty salty.” “It just tastes unnatural.” “Tastes like the hot dog equivalent of pink slime.”

Ingredients: Organic grass-fed beef, water, contains less than 2% of the following: sea salt, organic spices, organic dehydrated garlic, organic dehydrated onion, organic paprika, celery powder

#8: Oscar Mayer Selects Natural Angus Beef Franks

“It’s rubbery tasting, and it’s got a sharp taste to it.” “It has a sourness to it.” “It’s chewy.” “That’s an Oscar Mayer hot dog.”

Ingredients: Angus beef, water, culture dextrose, contains less than 2% of: dextrose, salt, cultured celery juice, vinegar, sea salt, cherry powder, flavor, extractives of paprika

#7: Bar S Beef Franks

“When I inhale after eating this, I get a funny feeling in my esophagus. It has an odd aftertaste.” “This is very mild and very fatty, but not much of a flavor payoff.” “No real snap.”

Ingredients: Beef, water, corn syrup, salt, contains 2% or less of the following: potassium lactate, potassium acetate, sodium diacetate, flavorings, sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite

#6: Ball Park Uncured Beef Franks

“Nobody [who works at Ball Park] cared about the spice pattern on this dog.” “It’s not super flavorful.” “Very juicy.”

Ingredients: Beef, water, corn syrup, contains 2% or less: salt, potassium lactate, hydrolyzed beef stock, natural flavor (including celery juice powder), sodium phosphate, sea salt, sodium diacetate, extractives of paprika

#5: Hebrew National Beef Franks

“Really fatty.” “I don’t like the liquid smoke flavor, it’s hitting me in the back of the throat and tastes chemically. If there ever was a sodium nitrate taste ...” “It’s a juicy wiener.” “The creaminess of this is good, and it has a nice garlic [flavor] and spice mixture.”

Ingredients: Kosher beef, water, modified potato starch, contains 2% or less of: salt, spice, sodium lactate, paprika, hydrolyzed soy protein, garlic powder, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, flavoring, sodium nitrite

#4: Ball Park Prime Uncured Beef Franks

“Fake smoke flavor.” “I could eat it on a bun with a bunch of relish and pickles.” “That’s the thing with commercial hot dogs, it’s like drinking soda waters that have an essence of something: this has an essence of white pepper.”

Ingredients: USDA Prime beef, water, contains 2% or less: dextrose, potassium lactate, salt, natural flavor (including celery juice powder), sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, sea salt, extractives of paprika.

#3: Nathan’s Jumbo Restaurant Style Beef Franks (Recommended)

“I like this one very much ― there’s nothing overpowering about this dog. It’s traditional and classic.” “It reminds me of my childhood.” “The fat content is just right.” “It’s a good backyard dog.”

Ingredients: Beef, water, contains 2% or less of salt, sorbitol, sodium lactate, natural flavoring, sodium phosphate, hydrolyzed corn protein, paprika, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite

#2: Nathan’s Skinless Beef Franks (Recommended)

“This is a very traditional, all-purpose hot dog that would carry mustard and relish really well. It’s super mild.” “The Honda Civic of hot dogs.” “I’m getting garlic and salt, and a good texture.” “It tastes like it’s made with good beef.”

Ingredients: Beef, water, contains 2% or less of salt, sorbitol, sodium lactate, natural flavoring, sodium phosphate, hydrolyzed corn protein, paprika, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite

#1: Oscar Mayer Classic Beef Uncured Franks (Recommended)

“The texture’s good, and it’s not overly fatty.” “Bright garlic flavor.” “This is a fine backyard dog.”

Ingredients: Beef, water, cultured dextrose, contains less than 2% of dextrose, salt, cultured celery juice, distilled white vinegar, sodium phosphate, cherry powder, flavor, extractives of paprika

10 Ways To Make Your Hot Dogs More Exciting