AmazingRibs.com is supported by our Pitmaster Club. Also, when you buy with links on our site we may earn a finder’s fee. Click to see how we test and review products.

The Best of the Wurst: Rating All-Beef Frankfurters

Share on:

Technically, hot dog is the name of the sandwich and frankfurter is the meat in the sandwich. Now that we’ve got the jargon straight, let it be said that I prefer all-beef franks, and here are my ratings of more than 30 all-beef franks. All were tastinged double-blind, which means I did not know what franks were being served to me.

I judged them on smell, taste, aftertaste, and the texture of the skin and filling. Some of the franks were skinless, so I did not rate those on snap. Size, price, ingredients, or other label info were not considered in this blind tasting.

So what is a good hot dog? If there are casings, they should have snap but not be tough, and the filling should be resilient but not be rubbery or crumbly. The meat should be juicy and taste like beef (doh!). Spices, especially garlic, should be pronounced, but not overwhelm the meat. Salt enhances flavor, but it should not taste briny. Smoke, if present at all, should not dominate. Balance is the key, but that does not mean blandness is to be praised. No rancidity, no bitterness, no greasiness, no mealiness, no egg flavors, no artificial undertones.

What about lowfat franks? I tasted the “healthier” reduced fat and fat free versions of several of my favorite franks, and all of them scored low. Perhaps, if you’re loading them up with toppings their innate deficiencies may get buried, but all alone on their own, well, they just plain sucked.

What about organic franks? Made without preservatives, often from cattle that graze in pastures rather than gorging on antibiotic laced grains, organic hot dogs are starting to make their mark. Using such additives as celery juice, lactic acid, and sea salt to extend their shelf life and create the normal pink color, organic dogs typically are lower in fat and sell for 15-25¢ more per link in the grocery store. One producer, Applegate Farms, has to go all the way to Uruguay to get meat that meets their specs. So far, the results have been unremarkable tastewise.

Below are my ratings in four groupings and listed alphabetically within groupings.

Killer Dogs: The Best of the Best

  • Hebrew National Beef Franks
  • Sabrett Beef Frankfurters

Highly Recommended

  • Hans’ All Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dogs
  • Joe and Franks Beef Franks
  • Nathan’s Famous Beef Franks
  • Original Chicago Style Hot Dog
  • Oscar Mayer XXL Premium Beef Franks
  • Red Hot Chicago
  • Scott Peterson Beef Franks

Average

  • Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs
  • Ball Park Beef Franks
  • Bar S Beef Franks
  • Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters
  • Daisy Brand Beef Wieners
  • Skinless
  • Oscar Mayer Beef Franks and Oscar Mayer XXL Deli Style Beef Franks
  • Safeway Select Beef Franks
  • Usinger’s Beef Frankfurters
  • Vienna Beef Franks

Not Recommended

Related articles

Published On: 9/9/2013 Last Modified: 3/10/2021

Share on:
  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

 

High quality websites are expensive to run. If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and a lot of freebies!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for high quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 2,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club. But please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get MANY great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Click for comments...

How I tasted

Each dog was simmered in water for 10 minutes, and left to rest at room temp for about one minute before I tasted them without a bun or condiments.

I tasted the franks in elimination rounds of five each flight. Then I tasted the 10 best in two flights of five in head-to-head competition. Then the top five went head-to-head.

In the first round, I simmered them in water. Then the top 10 were cooked on a clean gas grill. I chose simmering for the first round because I could control time and temp better and because the flavor of the frank is not masked by the cooking method as much as when grilled. Grilling changes the flavors more, extracting more spice flavors and creating Maillard reaction and carmelization flavors. Because I prefer grilled, this was my final determinant.

The cooking was handled by an assistant so I would not know which was which. She kept them straight by using a new chrome coated car key inserted into the end of each weiner. Each keyblank had a different head shape. Only my assistant knew which key corresponded to which brand. I tasted with friends to get their feedback and input but the final judgments were mine alone. I scored them on the following criteria:

Smell: Meatiness, spice, smoke, other

Texture: Casing, filling, juiciness, smoothness, tenderness, other

Taste: Sweet, salt, garlic, spice, heat, smoke, other

Aftertaste: Dominant flavor, persistence, other

Here is the 10 point hedonic scale I used for each of the above criteria:

0-4: Unpleasant

5: Neither pleasant nor unpleasant

6-7: Slightly pleasing

8-9: Very pleasing

10: Extremely pleasing

In addition I took notes on appearance and each of the criteria.

All the brands I tasted were purchased in groceries in the Chicagoland area with three exceptions. Because David Berg and Red Hot Chicago are sold only to restaurants, I contacted them and arranged to get them direct from the manufacturer. I ordered the Sabretts direct from their website. They arrived packed in ice, and well past their sell-by date. As the song goes, “ate it anyway, ate it anyway,” and, boy was I glad I did.

For the fun of it, I purchased two “homemade” pups from local butchers. Joe and Franks’ franks were among the best, and surprisingly, the hot dog from Bobak’s, a sausage maker of great repute, ranked near the bottom.

Oh where oh where has my Best Hot Dog gone?

When I first completed this tasting, my clear favorite was Best’s Kosher. Alas, Best’s has since been killed by it’s corporate parent, Sara Lee, in February 2009. According to an AP report on Forbes.com, “Sara Lee also has been shedding businesses that don’t fit into its strategy of focusing on categories where it is strong.” According to multiple reports, the brand was profitable, just not profitable enough. To read more, check out my article from the Huffington Post on 2/17/2009.

Spotlight

These are not paid ads, they are a curated selection of products we love.

All of the products below have been tested and are highly recommended. Click here to read more about our review process.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

Many merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click our “buy now” links. This has zero impact on the price you pay but helps support the site.


Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?


The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust-free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado. Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360 and get a special AmazingRibs.com price!


The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One


The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker, placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side. Click here to read our complete review.


Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat-controlled oven. Click here for our review of this superb smoker.


The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted


It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make their 22″ Pro Cart a great alternative! Click here for more about what makes this grill special.