I spent years trying to make the perfect hot dog. It turns out, all I needed was an air fryer.

  • Since childhood, I've been trying to make hot dogs more interesting and flavorful.

  • A friend told my mom that air-frying hot dogs changed her life, so I knew I needed to try it.

  • It's now my absolute favorite way to make them, and I can't go back to anything else.

I thought the perfect at-home hot dog didn't exist.

I'd had plenty of flavorful, juicy dogs from ballparks, festivals, and street vendors over the years. But I don't want to deal with hot oil, and I enjoy the convenience of conventional at-home cooking methods, like boiling water on the stove or microwaving.

But I could never quite figure out how to make the perfect hot dog. I bought various types of buns; tried brats, sausages, franks, and veggie dogs; and added different cheeses, produce, and spices. Nothing was perfect.

Then, while a family friend and my mom were sharing air-fryer recipes and meal hacks, she told my mom she had to try air-frying a hot dog — that was the missing piece for the best at-home dogs.

I start by toasting up the buns, then I air-fry the hot dogs separately

two hot dog buns in an air fryer basket
I like buns with some kind of extra seasoning.Meredith Schneider

I start by spraying the top of each brioche bun with cooking oil and sprinkling them with the Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend.

Then I put them in the air fryer at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about two minutes.

two hot dogs in an air fryer basket
Slicing the hot dogs before air-frying gives me the best results.Meredith Schneider

While the buns toast, I slice the top of the hot dogs for ventilation.

I remove the buns and add the franks to the air-fryer basket, bump the temperature up to 400 F, and let them cook for four minutes. I've tried everywhere between three and six minutes, and four is perfect for my preferred texture.

After trying hot dogs in an air fryer, I can't go back to my old ways

Regardless of how I dress our air-fried dogs, they're just as tasty as a ballpark frank. Even without the seasoning on the toasted bun — which was absolutely a crowd-pleaser — I think they're great.

Because of the texture and nostalgic charm, the hot dog already feels elevated. Plus, you don't have to drown it in oil or load it with toppings to achieve it. That's a win in my book.

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