FOOD & DRINK
06/26/2012 10:12 am ET Updated May 22, 2014

Best Hot Dogs: Our Taste Test Results

Don't think about hot dogs too much. Doing so may result in the realization that you're eating questionable animal parts that've been ground up and stuffed into a tube that's either a) made of intestines or b) fake intestines.

And yet, hot dogs are so delicious. They're salty, savory vehicles for every killer topping you could possibly imagine, and you can eat them with one hand. It's hard to come by a more perfect food.

So to help you out, we're going to do the thinking for you. We tasted 15 different brands and types of beef hot dogs to find which are worthy of your grill this summer. Why, you ask? We know the proposition of eating a lesser-than hot dog is a risky one, running the danger of eating something that's filled with (arguably) cancer-causing nitrites or ingredients you can't exactly identify.

We tried everything: natural, clearly not natural, skinless, skin-on, and even organic. We were shocked to find that a brand many of us considered to be a true favorite finished in last place (truly proving that our taste test is blind). Which brands came out on top? Find out in the slideshow below.

As always, this taste test was in no way influenced or sponsored by any of the brands included.

  • #1: Nathan's Beef Franks With Natural Casings (Recommended)
    <b>Comments:</b> "A fine standard." "Enjoyable. Perfect level of sweetness." "Beefy." "Salty and garlicky." "Lightly flavored
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "A fine standard." "Enjoyable. Perfect level of sweetness." "Beefy." "Salty and garlicky." "Lightly flavored." Ingredients: Beef, water, contains less than 2% of salt sorbotol, sodium lactate, natural flavorings, hydrolyzed corn protein, paprika, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite 1 hot dog = 180 calories, 17g fat, 460mg sodium
  • #2: Sabrett Skinless Beef Frankfurters (Recommended)
    <b>Comments:</b> "Very skinny, very salty. Would hold up well to a nice spicy mustard." "Pleasant -- good texture." "Very che
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Very skinny, very salty. Would hold up well to a nice spicy mustard." "Pleasant -- good texture." "Very chewy." "It's got a lot of snap." Ingredients: Beef, water, salt, contains less than 2%: sorbitol, flavoring, potassium lactate, paprika, garlic powder, hickory smoke flavor, sodium dictate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 140 calories, 12g fat, 380mg sodium
  • #3: Applegate Farms: The Great Organic Beef Hot Dog (Recommended)
    <b>Comments:</b> "Love this -- almost has a sausage-like flavor." "Oh-so-slight spice." "Has a soy sauce-like taste." "Lots o
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Love this -- almost has a sausage-like flavor." "Oh-so-slight spice." "Has a soy sauce-like taste." "Lots of spices." "Tastes of crushed red peppers." Ingredients: Organic grass-fed beef, water, contains less than 2% of the following: sea salt, organic spices, organic dehydrated garlic and onion, organic paprika, celery powder 1 hot dog = 110 calories, 8g fat, 330mg sodium
  • #4: Nathan's Skinless Beef Franks
    <b>Comments:</b> "Sweet! Is there sugar in here?" "Very sweet." "Good salty-sweet combination." "Overly sweet but would be en
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Sweet! Is there sugar in here?" "Very sweet." "Good salty-sweet combination." "Overly sweet but would be enjoyable with salty toppings." Ingredients: Beef, water, contains less than 2% of salt, sorbitol, sodium lactate, natural flavorings, sodium phosphate, hydrolyzed corn protein, paprika, sodium dictate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite 1 hot dog = 150 calories, 13g fat, 410mg sodium
  • #5: Boar's Head
    <b>Comments:</b> "This has some serious snap." "A great standard hot dog." "Good, but a little too greasy." "Salty and gristl
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "This has some serious snap." "A great standard hot dog." "Good, but a little too greasy." "Salty and gristly, unfortunately." Ingredients: Beef, water, salt, paprika flavoring, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, and a sheep casing. 1 hot dog = 160 calories, 14g fat, 440mg sodium
  • #6: Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks
    <b>Comments:</b> "Soft and limp." "The texture seems very processed." "Soft and slimy texture." "Pleasantly different from th
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Soft and limp." "The texture seems very processed." "Soft and slimy texture." "Pleasantly different from the rest. Less overly-spiced." Ingredients: Beef, water, modified food starch, contains 2% of less of sodium lactate, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, flavorings, paprika, potassium chloride, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 40 calories, 1g fat, 520mg sodium
  • #7: Oscar Mayer Classic Beef Franks
    <b>Comments:</b> "A little on the salty side, but still good." "Nice smoky sweetness." "Good snap."

<b>Ingredients:</b> Be
    Comments: "A little on the salty side, but still good." "Nice smoky sweetness." "Good snap." Ingredients: Beef, water, contains less than 2% of salt, corn syrup, dextrose, sodium lactate, sodium phosphates, sodium dictate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), extractives of paprika, dried garlic, spice, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 130 calories, 12g fat, 470mg sodium
  • #8: Woodson and James Skinless
    <b>Comments:</b> "Seriously heavy flavor." "Strong hot dog aftertaste." "Very tender." "Weird orange color, but better flavor
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Seriously heavy flavor." "Strong hot dog aftertaste." "Very tender." "Weird orange color, but better flavor." "A typical hot dog -- I'd grill it." Ingredients: Beef, water, salt, mustard flour, dextrose paprika, sodium phosphate, garlic powder, hydrolyzed soy protein, sodium drythorbate, extractives of paprika, spices, sodium nitrite, flavorings. 1 hot dog = 160 calories, 15g fat, 500mg sodium
  • #9: Coleman
    <b>Comments:</b> "Is this breakfast sausage? I love it anyway." "Deeper flavor than most." "Vinegar-like taste." "A little bi
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Is this breakfast sausage? I love it anyway." "Deeper flavor than most." "Vinegar-like taste." "A little bit sour." "More like breakfast sausage than a hot dog." Ingredients: Beef, water, contains less than 2% of the following: allspice, celery juice powder, evaporated cane juice, garlic powder, ginger, honey, lactic acid starter culture (not from dairy), mustard, nutmeg, onion powder, paprika, pepper, sea salt. 1 hot dog = 190 calories, 16g fat, 460mg sodium
  • #10: Kobe Beef America
    <b>Comments:</b> "Lackluster, but a good vehicle for toppings." "Great saltiness." "Smoky and salty. Very classic." "Like rub
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Lackluster, but a good vehicle for toppings." "Great saltiness." "Smoky and salty. Very classic." "Like rubber." "Tastes 'beefy' but not like a hot dog." Ingredients: American style kobe beef and beef, water, corn syrup, salt, potassium lactate, sodium phosphate, garlic, onion, sodium dictate, sodium carbonate, spice extractives, sodium erythorbate, natural smoke flavor, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 150 calories, 13g fat, 460mg sodium
  • #11: Ball Park Deli Style Beef Franks
    <b>Comments:</b> "Too bland and bologna-like." "Nice layer of salt." "Not much flavor." "Slightly sweet." "Tastes like a chea
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Too bland and bologna-like." "Nice layer of salt." "Not much flavor." "Slightly sweet." "Tastes like a cheap hot dog. Not bad, but not great." Ingredients: Beef, water, corn syrup, contains 2% or less of: salt, potassium lactate, flavorings, dextrose, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, extractives of paprika, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 140 calories, 12g fat, 450mg sodium
  • #12: Ball Park Beef Franks
    <b>Comments:</b> "Very bologna-like." "Feels like it would be fabulous grilled." "What is this?" "Too salty." 

<b>Ingredie
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Very bologna-like." "Feels like it would be fabulous grilled." "What is this?" "Too salty." Ingredients: Beef, water, corn syrup, contains 2% or less: salt, potassium lactate, beef stock, sodium phosphates, flavorings, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, extractives of paprika. 1 hot dog = 190 calories, 16g fat, 550 mg sodium
  • #13: Ball Park Angus Beef Franks
    <b>Comments:</b> "Spicy and heavily meaty." "Weird artificial taste." "Too salty and strange." "Awful sponge-like texture." "
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "Spicy and heavily meaty." "Weird artificial taste." "Too salty and strange." "Awful sponge-like texture." "A little scary to chew through." Ingredients: Angus beef, water, corn syrup, contains 2% or less: salt, potassium lactate, flavorings, monosodium glutamate, sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), extractives of paprika, sodium nitrite. 1 hot dog = 170 calories, 15g fat, 520mg sodium
  • #14: Woodson & James Angus Beef Natural Casing
    <b>Comments:</b> "I like the taste, but not the strange orange color." "Tastes like dog food." 

<b>Ingredients:</b> Beef,
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "I like the taste, but not the strange orange color." "Tastes like dog food." Ingredients: Beef, water, salt, mustard flour, dextrose, paprika, sodium phosphate, garlic poder, hydrolized soy protein, sodium erythorbate, extractives of paprika, spices, sodium nitrite, flavorings. In lamb casing. 1 hot dog = 160 calories, 15g fat, 500 mg sodium
  • #15: Hebrew National Beef Franks
    <b>Comments:</b> "I can actually see white pieces of fat when I bite in -- you lost me there." "Chewy, awful and mushy." "Not
    Damon Dahlen/AOL
    Comments: "I can actually see white pieces of fat when I bite in -- you lost me there." "Chewy, awful and mushy." "Not flavorful and very soft." "Strange, mealy texture." "Tastes like beef jerky, with strange granules of fat in it." Ingredients: Beef, water, no modified food starch, contains 2% of less of salt, sodium lactate, spiced hydrolyzed soy protein, paprika, sodium diacetate, garlic powder, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite and flavorings. 1 hot dog = 150 calories, 14g fat, 460mg sodium
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