Taste Test: Which Hot Dogs Are the Top Dogs?

by in Taste Test, June 30, 2014

hot dogs
With the season of backyard food fests in full swing, Healthy Eats vetted the most popular hot dog brands around to see which ones deserve a coveted spot on the grill grates. Find out which frank emerged as top dog.

The Criteria
We rated beef wieners on a 5-point scale (5 being highest), judging the dogs on taste, ingredient quality and nutrition and paying special attention to calories, fat and sodium. We stuck with regular franks instead of the reduced-fat versions, as many of those use a considerable amount of fillers made from potato starch to displace some of the meat (no thank you). We were also on the lookout for the presence of preservatives such as sodium nitrite. Hot dogs ranged in size from 42 to 57 grams (1.5 to 2 ounces) per piece. 

Applegate Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog (above)
Rating: 5
Cost: $0.56
Nutrition Info (1 hot dog): 70 calories; 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated); 330 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: A big winner in the taste department, this slightly smaller dog had a fraction of the calories and fat that appears in many other brands. Bonus points for a simple ingredient list that includes beef, water and spices, plus celery powder instead of sodium nitrite.

Trader Joe’s Uncured Hot Dog
Rating: 4
Cost: $0.56 per piece
Nutrition Info (1 hot dog): 190 calories; 16 grams fat (7 grams saturated); 340 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats  Take: In this frank’s favor: no nitrates and good flavor overall. But the ingredient lineup includes evaporated cane juice, resulting in an unnecessarily sweet flavor, as well as a long list of spices — the level of which might be a turn off for some, especially kids. The hot dogs were also the highest in calories of the bunch.

Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters
Rating: 3.5
Cost: $0.76 per piece
Nutrition Info (1 hot dog): 160 calories; 14 grams fat (6 grams saturated); 440 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: All in all, this is a juicy, tender and decent-tasting dog. It’s slightly larger than its classmates, making the calories, fat and sodium pretty hefty. The hot dogs have a shorter ingredient list than some, but both sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrate make appearances. These are also the priciest dogs of the group.

Ball Park Beef Franks
Rating: 2
Cost: $0.66 per piece
Nutrition Info (1 hot dog): 150 calories; 12 grams fat (5 grams saturated); 410 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: Beef meets up with corn syrup, dextrose and lots of preservatives (including sodium nitrite) in these franks. The color is unusually red and the dogs have a slight aftertaste. Plus, the sodium level is up there.

Hebrew National Beef Franks
Rating: 2
Cost: $0.53 per piece
Nutrition Info (1 hot dog): 150 calories; 14 grams fat ( 6 grams saturated); 460 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: These hot dogs have a decent texture but an unpleasantly smoky and overly salty flavor. Beef and water top the ingredient list, followed by sodium-based preservatives, soy protein, spices and sodium nitrite.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

More posts from .
Tags:

Similar Posts

Taste Test: Frozen Macaroni and Cheese

Are you falling for claims that many brands of frozen macaroni and cheese are reasonable options for a healthy dinner? Check out the results of this e...

Comments (11)

  1. […] Applegate Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog (above)Rating: 5Cost: $0.56Nutrition Info (1 hot dog): 70 calories; 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated); 330 milligrams sodiumThe Healthy Eats Take: A big winner in the taste department, this slightly smaller dog had a fraction of the calories and fat that appears in many other brands. Bonus points for a simple ingredient list that includes beef, water and …read more […]

  2. jeremy jones says:

    Wow Dana White you know nothing about Hot Dogs and have no business rating them Terrible article..

  3. LookWhosPostingNow says:

    For a combination of taste and nutrition, I'd agree that Applegate Farms' hotdogs are the best. The fact that they are nitrate free is huge. However, if we're putting nutrition out the window, Hebrew National are by far the best. To each their own, but i'm surprised by such a low rating.

  4. Sarah says:

    We love applegate! They are the best.

  5. Lydia says:

    I normally agree with Food Network, but the low rating for Hebrew National makes me wonder if the tester actually tried any of the hot dogs, or instead just looked at the "nutritional value." To me, Hebrew National dogs are like the filet mignon of hot dogs, and just about everyone I know would choose them compared to the rest on this list. I am extremely shocked by their supposed low rating — especially when Hebrew National has won many larger scale taste tests.

  6. […] Poor grilled chicken. Often considered bland and dry, the lean, good-for-you protein gets a bad rap. But these versions — abounding in herbs, spices and other flavor-forward add-ins — ensure that everyone’s summer staple is truly grill-tastic.  Grilled Honey Glazed Chicken with Green Pea and Mint Sauce (above) Solely brushed with honey and balsamic vinegar,Read more Next […]

  7. Sarah S. says:

    Where is Oscar Mayer? Or any natural casing weiner varieties? This is a disappointingly limited article.

  8. NWPAMum says:

    Where are Smith's?! You've not had a hot dog until you've had Smith's.

  9. klj1 says:

    Olympic Provisions hot dogs are the best!…*just sayin* :-)

  10. Jim H says:

    You want the best, and I mean none better. There is a little meat locker in Howard South Dakota that makes AWESOME hotdogs and Brats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>