This Labor Day weekend, enjoy 3 delicious ways to think outside the bun, without sacrificing the simple essence of the hot dog – not fancy, just awesome. Whether you’re feeding your own kids or hosting a neighborhood cookout, you’ll want to give these a try. Summer is short. You might as well do it up right.

All recipes make eight hot dogs, and all work with beef, turkey, or tofu dogs!

Pretzel Dogs

These are so good I’m seriously considering starting up a neighborhood food cart to sell them full time. Bonus: using store ­bought pizza dough makes the process easy and reasonably quick.

Because no one wants to wait for hot dogs.

Salt well and serve with mustard, obviously.

  • 1 lb store bought white pizza dough
  • 8 hot dogs
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Lay the pizza dough on a lighlty floured surface so it doesn’t stick. Using a sharp knife,cut the dough into eight strips. Starting at one end, wrap each strip of dough around a hot dog in a spiral. Secure the ends by pinching them back into the dough. Lay wrapped dogs on the parchment-lined sheet.

When the hot dogs are all wrapped with dough, add the baking soda to the boiling water. It will foam up quickly. Add the dogs to the boiling water two or three at a time, and leave them for 30 seconds. Remove from the water using a large slotted spoon or spatula and place back on the baking sheet. When they’ve all been boiled, brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with salt. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until the tops are deep golden brown. Let cool briefly before digging in.

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Homemade Corn Dogs

As far as I’m concerned corn dogs are the only reason to go to fairs. Oh, and cotton candy. And funnel cake. Ok, the only reason to go to fairs is all of the food. But corn dogs are in a class by themselves, kind of the original fair food. Now I just need to convince my kids that these are super difficult to make so they don’t start requesting them every week. Because I’ll probably cave.

This is the easy and tasty recipe I used. It calls for grilling the hot dogs before coating and frying them. I skipped this step and the results were still amazing. Just don’t forget to dust them with flour before dipping them into the batter!

Tip: after frying, drain on a double layer of paper towels placed on top of a baking rack.

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Hawaiian Dogs

These are inspired by a recipe in an issue of “Curbside Cuisine” magazine my kids gave me for Mother’s Day last year. The original used a row of three still-­connected King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls in lieu of a bun. I recommend going that route if you can find them. Sadly, I couldn’t, so I opted for the potato rolls. I also garnished with sweet barbecue sauce instead of teriyaki, and I used crushed salted peanuts instead of toasted macadamia nuts just to eliminate an extra step. I used my own dressing recipe for the cabbage slaw, because I think it’s the best. I put all the toppings out separately so the kids could pick and choose, but these look so cool and taste so great I would totally make a whole tray and serve them up at a backyard party.

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 8 potato hot dog buns or 24 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, in rows of three
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple cup into 1 inch chunks
  • 2/3 cup chopped or crushed salted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup barbecue or teriyaki sauce

For the cabbage slaw:

  • 3 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tsp honey
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to combine. Grill or pan fry hot dogs until brown on all sides but not charred. Pop into a bun and top with slaw, pineapple, peanuts, and a drizzle of sauce.

Got a favorite hot dog topping? Tell us in the comments. We need to know.