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Taste Test: The Best Hot Dogs

We taste-tested dozens of hot dogs from the grocery store and online to find our favorites -- these franks cut the mustard.
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salsa dogs

BEST OVERALL

Bar-S Beef Franks

Tasters flipped for this all-beef hot dog. They raved about its "incredible juiciness" and "nice snap." The judges were also grabbed by its "perfect smoky-and-sweet combination," along with a "great saltiness." No wonder Bar-S was the best-selling bargain brand in America last year -- as one taster said, "It's everything a hot dog should be." ($2.99 for 16 ounces, at grocery stores)

 
coney island hot dogs

CLOSE SECOND

Kunzler Beef Franks

Based in Pennsylvania's Amish Country, Kunzler still uses its German founder's recipe from 1901. Our judges loved the "pure beef flavor" and the way the dogs "glistened with juices." ($4.99 for 16 ounces, kunzler.com)

 
hot dog

BEST ODDBALL

Nathan's Famous Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks

This spin on Nathan's Famous original recipe balances "savory beef and sharp cheese," said judges. It's stuffed with the real deal (from Wisconsin, actually). ($4.49 for 16 ounces, at select stores)

 
panini

BEST TURKEY

Oscar Mayer Turkey Franks

Oscar Mayer hasn't changed its jingle to "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener with half the fat and calories," but it has created a lighter, "well-seasoned" dog. Tasters loved the "savory" kick. ($1.99 for 16 ounces, at grocery stores)

 
tacos

BEST CLASSIC

Ball Park Franks

This beef, pork and turkey combo scored a home run with our tasters, who loved its blend of "sweet and salty." The "plump, meaty" dogs also earned points for their "light texture." ($2.39 for 16 ounces, at grocery stores)

 
pasta

BEST VEGGIE

Morningstar Farms America's Original Veggie Dogs

Carnivores groaned at the idea of a meatfree hot dog -- until this one. Morningstar Farms' dogs were "smoky," with a "nice brown color" and "pleasing aftertaste." ($3.99 for 16 ounces, at grocery stores)

 
sandwich

BEST CHICKEN

Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs

This all-thigh-meat frank might be lighter than other dogs, but it's heavy on taste. Judges likened it to "a delicious chicken sausage" with "clean" flavor -- thanks to organic, grain-fed chicken. ($5.99 for 12 ounces, at select stores)

 

Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in June 2008.

 

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