Hot dog spices are responsible for one of the iconic flavor profiles in American cuisine. The flavor of the standard weiner comes from spices used in the sausage itself and from the condiments used to top it. Here is a look at some of the best hot dog spices.
One of the universal seasonings, onion, is one of the alliums most responsible for the flavor of hot dogs. Onion powder is typically included in the hot dog itself, and chopped onions are among the popular hot dog toppings. Most regional American variations of the hot dog include chopped onions as one of the basic condiments. Onions bring a pungent, herbaceous note that significantly enhances the hot dog’s savory notes.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Arguably the most important seasoning if you want to give food strong savory flavors, MSG is one of the truly essential spices in traditional hot dog spice blends. A Japanese invention, the flavor of this ingredient can be described as meaty or brothy. It pairs well with the flavor of the meat itself and those of the other spices.
If you are making your own hot dogs, mace is an important ingredient. Made from the nutmeg seed’s aril, mace has a similar flavor to nutmeg but is not quite as sweet or intense. It has some cinnamon notes with a significant dose of nutmeg’s nuttiness but is better suited to savory dishes than nutmeg. Mace is one of the main ingredients in most hot dog seasoning blends.
Best known for its role in curry powder, coriander seed offers nuttiness with citrus hints and mild sweetness. It blends well with the other hot dog spices to create the savory flavor that we associate with hot dogs. You will need it if you are making your own hot dogs from scratch at home. Coriander seeds are typically ground and added to the meat filling that goes inside the hot dog casing. It generally is one of the spices that go into hot dog seasonings blends.
One of the most beloved seasonings all over the world, garlic is one of the staple spices used to make hot dogs. The powdered form is preferred because it distributes more evenly in the hot dogs’ meat filling. Garlic adds an intense and somewhat sulfurous dose of umami to what would otherwise be a bland meat product.
Hot dog seasoning blends
To get the traditional hot dog’s flavor profile, you can use premixed spice blends that include some of the spices above and various others. Weiner seasonings are typically mixed into the meat, and a binder before the hot dogs are smoked and cooked for eating. Aside from MSG and salt, hot dog seasonings blends may not list the spices that they use. Instead, they are sometimes listed simply as spices on the label.
Mustard is one of the most important hot dog toppings and is a traditional option with pretty much every regional hotdog variation. While any mustard seed may be used to make a hotdog topping, the traditional version is made with yellow mustard seeds and vinegar and turmeric. The seeds are ground and combined with turmeric and vinegar to make a paste. Yellow mustard seeds are tangy and almost sour but lack the heat of other kinds of mustard. Their sharp taste is enhanced by the vinegar and helps mellow out the hot dog’s intense savory flavors.