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Air fryer hot dogs: tips and recipes

Alvina Wang/BestReviews

Air-frying might be our new favorite way to cook hot dogs

Hot dogs are such an easy meal. Since they’re precooked, all you need to do is heat them up, and they’re ready to go. As a matter of fact, you don't even have to cook them before eating. But why do that? Especially when air-frying hot dogs only takes a few minutes and will yield some of the best-tasting franks you've ever eaten.

Why cook hot dogs in an air fryer?

There are many ways to cook hot dogs. Depending on your preference, some methods have obvious advantages over others. You can cook hot dogs in an oven or a pot of boiling water. You can microwave your hot dog or cook it outside on a grill. But we prefer to air-fry our hot dogs.

It comes down to a matter of taste and texture. Boiling and microwaving leave you with raw-looking or rubbery results that are rather bland because there are no contrasting textures. While a grill gives you superior results, it can be hard to cook with precision. It’s also a time- and labor-intensive process that must be done outdoors. An oven isn't bad, but when compared to an air fryer, it’s slow, wastes energy and produces inferior results.

An air fryer cooks your hot dogs in roughly six minutes or less. It gives you a satisfying crisp with an abundance of sealed-in juices, making it the best overall option.

How long to air-fry hot dogs

An air fryer is essentially a mini convection oven. The small space allows it to heat up quickly while the fan moves the air around to produce even heating. However, it’s important to remember that the smaller the cooking chamber is, the more intense the cooking process will be. This means ideal cooking times will vary slightly from air fryer to air fryer.

We found that almost all hot dog recipes for an air fryer called for setting the temperature to 400 degrees. After that, the instructions varied. Some recipes claimed three minutes was plenty, while others suggested six minutes was necessary. Since we enjoy hot dogs more with a crispy exterior, we preferred five to six minutes at 400 degrees in most air fryers. This produced a satisfying crunch without drying out the hot dog. For a smaller air fryer, however, six minutes could burn the hot dogs, so a little recipe tweaking might be needed to get the perfect level of doneness for you.

How to cook hot dogs in an air fryer

  1. Select and cut hot dogs: Place several shallow cuts diagonally across the hot dogs for more even internal heating and to help plump them. 
  2. Select the Air Fry function (if needed): If your appliance has multiple functions, select the Air Fry mode.
  3. Set the temperature to 400 degrees: Most hot dog recipes ask for this temperature, and we found it to be ideal.
  4. Set the timer to six minutes: Six minutes is best if you want the exterior to be crisp, otherwise, three or four minutes is adequate. 
  5. Preheat (if needed): If your air fryer requires preheating, warm it up for the designated amount of time.
  6. Place the hot dogs in the air fryer: When putting hot dogs in the air fryer, allow enough room for the air to circulate around each one.
  7. Cook: Cook the hot dogs for six minutes, rotating at the halfway point.
  8. Butter rolls: If you desire toasted rolls, brush them with a little bit of butter to prep.
  9. Place hot dogs in buns: Stick the hot dogs in the buns and place them in the air fryer.
  10. Cook for two minutes: Cook the rolls (with the hot dogs inside) for two additional minutes at 400 degrees.

Choosing the best hot dogs for air-frying

You've already made the decision to eat a hot dog; now you might as well choose the most satisfying one. We found that "healthy" hot dogs didn't really cut the mustard. Veggie hot dogs and turkey hot dogs cooked a little too dry for our tastes. Instead, we went for the beef or pork options. When we cooked them in an air fryer, all that fat got sealed up inside, giving us a crispy exterior but a juicy interior. If you want a healthier option, it's best to monitor veggie hot dogs and turkey hot dogs while cooking to make sure they don’t dry out.

Toppings and serving suggestions

If you have a dual-basket air fryer, cooking up a few tater tots as a side is never a bad idea. Also, while your hot dogs are cooking in the air fryer, you can heat up some beans in the microwave or on the stove.

As far as toppings go, we enjoy dropping a slice of cheese on top of the hot dog and bun as soon as it comes out of the air fryer. You can top that off with a drizzle of your favorite mustard or ranch dressing. An easy option is to add relish or ketchup (without cheese). But if you really want to dazzle, consider topping your dog with homemade macaroni and cheese.

Storage and reheating

If your eyes were bigger than your stomach, and you made more hot dogs than you could eat, that's OK. Simply wrap the hot dogs in plastic wrap (or aluminum foil) and place them in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can store the leftovers in a shallow airtight container. These will be best if eaten within about three to four days.

When it's time to reheat, once again, the air fryer is our favorite option. If your model has a reheat feature, you can use that. However, we found that reheating them in Air Fry mode at 325 degrees for three or four minutes worked best. It warmed them up and dried them out a little so they weren't soggy.

Now you’re ready to make delicious air fryer hot dogs

Now that you know what to do at every step of the way, there are two important things to remember about cooking hot dogs with an air fryer. The first is that every air fryer is a little different, so a recipe is just a suggestion. If you blindly follow it, you could end up with dry, burnt hot dogs. 

The second thing to remember is an air fryer cooks with air. If your hot dogs are touching each other or the sides of the basket, those parts won't cook as well. For best results, always leave space around the hot dogs so the air can fully circulate and cook them evenly.

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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