Grilling season officially kicks off next weekend, and we’re here to make sure your Memorial Day cookout is better than ever. Start with one of the simplest things you could possibly throw on the grill: hot dogs. There are probably a million possible hot dog combinations. First you’ve got your bun options: honey wheat, potato, bolillo, baguette. Then you’ve got your options for sauce, cheese, veggies and other toppings. Finally, you’ve got your choices for the dog itself: veggie, chicken, Ball Park Frank, organic grass-fed beef … and sausages, oh, the sausages! Actually, all hot dogs are sausages, but we tend to put the spicier variety in its own category.
Summer party spreads like picnics and potlucks are an excellent opportunity to put your creative snacking skills to use and experiment with inventing new and exciting hot dog combinations, or host a summer soiree with a preloaded DIY hot dog bar to get your guests’ juices flowing.
Check out the full gallery for all 12 unexpected hot dog toppings.
Go Southern: Pimento Cheese Hot Dog
Top a classic beef hot dog with a generous portion of pimento cheese spread and fresh red-pepper slices (for crunch), and serve on pretzel rolls.
Spice Things Up: Thai Chicken Hot Dog
Spread buns with a thick layer of Thai peanut sauce, then top with spicy chicken sausages. Spoon on Asian slaw, and garnish with cilantro and peanuts.
Summer on a Bun: Caprese Hot Dog
Cut a demi-baguette in half and slice it down the side. Tuck in sweet Italian chicken sausage and fresh basil leaves, then top with balsamic ketchup, fresh mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Sweet Finish: Banana Dessert Dog
This one’s perfect for kids, and for kids at heart. Spread a traditional white bun with peanut butter on both sides, substitute a banana for the hot dog, drizzle with chocolate sauce, and top with plenty of whipped cream, sprinkles and (of course) a cherry on top.
Browse the full gallery for more hot dog inspiration, plus check out all of Food Network’s best Memorial Day recipe ideas.