Freezing is by far the best way to preserve your sausages, but it can leave you wondering how to defrost or thaw hot dogs safely. However, after reading this, you will be able to defrost frozen hot dogs like a pro!
Thawing frozen food may sound easy, but there are many things you must remember to ensure that they are safe to eat afterward. Defrosting food incorrectly can lead to the growth of bacteria and food poisoning(1), so be sure to follow the steps below carefully for the best results.
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How Not To Thaw Hot Dogs
If you are thinking to yourself, “Do hot dogs spoil?”, then the answer is definitely yes. You might think that freezing meat can kill bacteria, but that is completely wrong. Freezing can only slow the growth of bacteria, not kill them.
So when you thaw meat incorrectly, you’re allowing the bacteria to multiply. The longer you wait, the more bacteria there is. Here are the things you should avoid when thawing hot dogs:
1. Do Not Leave Them On The Kitchen Counter
According to Food Safety Guidelines from the USDA, you should never leave your hot dogs at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the temperature reaches above 90°F, that time limit will go down to 1 hour(2). So whatever you do, NEVER thaw hot dogs on the counter!
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2. Do Not Cook Them In The Microwave On High
The safest way to thaw hot dogs is to let them sit at a constant temperature at 40°F or below. If the temperature exceeds that limit, it will be in the “Danger Zone” where bacteria can double in minutes(3).
3. Do Not Let Them Sit In Hot Water
Similarly, if they make contact with hot water, the outer layer of your hot dogs will be in the “Danger Zone” and spoil quickly. So you must use the coolest setting on your tap if you want to thaw them in water.
The Best Methods To Thaw Hot Dogs
If you’re reading this, you probably know if you can put hot dogs in freezers and what not to do while defrosting them. Now, give this section a read, and you shall learn 3 easy yet effective step-by-step tutorials to thaw frozen sausages.
1. Using The Refrigerator (The Safest Way)
What can you do if you accidentally thaw too much sausage? Is it possible to refreeze thawed hot dogs? This might seem like a no-brainer question, but it is actually more complicated than you think.
It is possible to put thawed hot dogs back in the freezer, but one of the requirements for that is thawing the hot dogs in the fridge. That is why the refrigerator method is the go-to way to thaw your hot dogs if you are not sure you can eat them all.
In fact, the refrigerator is also the best way to thaw frozen fish and other foods. Next time you’re not sure how to defrost a certain food, putting it in the fridge is your best bet.
Step 1: Place Them On A Plate
Remember that frozen hot dogs have tiny ice particles on them. Once you thaw the hot dogs, the ice will melt and flow away, carrying bacteria that can contaminate fresh food.
So it would be best if you put them on a spacious defrosting tray. A shallow plate (or a bowl) can also suffice. Just make sure the container can catch all the fluid from the frozen hot dogs. Just line them up, don’t stack them.
Step 2: Cover Them
You can wrap the dish with saran wrap if you want, so the smell doesn’t spread. You can also use a lid to cover the hot dogs.
Also, if you are working with unopened hot dogs, place them on a plate and call it a day—no need to cover.
Step 3: And Now You Wait!
Put the plate in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for 24 hours or until they become flexible and cool to the touch.
Yes, this method is more time-consuming compared to the others. However, this thawing method will make them last 3-5 days. It’ll also make the requisite timespan to smoke hot dogs considerably shorter. So in the end, I think it is worth it.
Note: If you have to thaw many hot dogs at once, it may take more than 24 hours. So remember to plan your meal a few days prior.
2. Using The Microwave (The Quickest Way)
The microwave is the opposite of the refrigerator one. It is the quickest way to defrost hot dogs, but it can also be quite dangerous if you don’t do it correctly.
Luckily, this section will tell you the proper techniques to use the microwave that might help you know the correct way to defrost bacon and other meat as well. If you follow the instructions below carefully, this will be the most effective method to thaw hot dogs.
Step 1: Put Them On A Plate
If your hot dogs are still in the package, take them out and place them on a microwave-safe plate. The plastic packaging can melt if the heat is too high, spoiling your hot dogs and making a mess in the microwave.
Also, remember not to stack the hot dogs. Just put them in a single layer.
Step 2: Cover Them
Cover the hot dogs by draping a piece of paper towel over them. The paper towel will soak up the hot dog fluid. Alternatively, you can wrap them individually in paper towels.
Step 3: Microwave Them
Microwave the hot dogs for 30 seconds using the defrost setting. If your microwave doesn’t have a “Defrost” option, just set it to 30% power.
Also, if your microwave doesn’t rotate the food for you (this usually happens with microwave ovens), you should turn the dish 180° every now and then to ensure that they are thawed evenly.
Step 4: Check Them Out
After 30 seconds, take them out and check them. Remember, thawed hot dogs are cool to the touch and slightly flexible. If they are not, place them back in the microwave and rotate them for another 30 seconds.
Keep repeating this step until they are no longer cold. In total, the length of time to microwave hot dogs is different based on their state and size. Thick hot dogs will obviously take more time than thin ones.
In general, the process might take up to 12 minutes for a whole package (meaning you have to microwave them 24 times).
Sounds like a lot? Yes, this can be quite excessive. But do NOT turn the heat on to make the process faster. This will trigger bacterial growth and spoil the hot dogs.
Step 5: Cook Them Right Away
Once they are thawed, you must cook the hot dogs immediately! The microwave has partially cooked the hot dogs. So if you let it sit for too long, the hot dogs will go bad very quickly.
Your hot dogs are safe to eat once their internal temperature reaches 165°F (or when they are steaming hot).
3. Using Cool Water (The Easiest Way)
Don’t have enough time to wait for your hot to thaw in the fridge and microwaved hot dogs don’t sound appetizing to you? This is the best method for you, especially if you plan to try the ways to make boiled hot dogs later. And best of all, this method is incredibly easy to do.
Step 1: Put Them In A Bag
Place the sausages in an airtight plastic bag and seal it tight. Make sure the water can’t touch the food.
If your hot dogs are unopened, keep them in their original package.
Step 2: Place Them In Cool Water
Add cool water in a big bowl and let your hot dogs sit in it for 30 minutes. Remember to submerge your bag. If it floats, that means there’s still air inside the bag. Squeeze the air out and put them back in the bowl.
Do not use warm or hot water in this step. Because just like the microwave method, if the hot dogs start to cook in the water, they will spoil.
If you are working with a few packs of hot dogs, put them in separate bowls to speed up this process.
Step 3: Check Them Out
After 30 minutes, take them out of the bowl and check to see if they are squishy and cool to the touch. If not, replace the water in the bowl and let them sit for another 30 minutes.
Thawing multiple packs of hot dogs will take longer (1-2 hours), but usually, they will thaw within the first 30 minutes.
Note: If your hot dogs are not thawed after 2 hours, don’t place them back in the water, put them in the refrigerator instead. Thawing them in cool water for more than 2 hours is not recommended.
Step 4: Cook Them Right Away
Cook your hot dogs immediately to kill all the bacteria in the hot dogs. This method is much safer than the microwave one, but leaving them for too long can be dangerous.
Cooking them to the safe temperature of 165°F will ensure that there are no bacteria in your hot dogs. Use a candy thermometer or a wireless meat thermometer with high accuracy to ensure that the hot dogs have reached the recommended temperature before taking them out.
Let’s sum up these 2 sections with some knowledge about thawing meat! Watch this video:
3 Ways To Cook Hot Dogs Without Thawing Them
Once your hot dogs are fully thawed, you can cook them however you like. Fry them, grill them, smoke them,… the possibilities are endless!
However, there are still many ways to cook hot dogs while they are completely frozen. So if you are craving hot dogs and don’t have the time to thaw them, have a look at the tutorials below:
1. Using The Stove
This is probably the most straightforward method to cook frozen hot dogs without thawing them. All you have to do is boil them for a bit longer than usual until they are thoroughly cooked.
How long does it take to boil hot dogs? Depending on the size of your hot dogs or the temperature of the stove, each recipe will have a different recommended cooking time and temperature.
In this case, you just need to cook them on high for 8 minutes, and they are good to go.
2. Using The Oven/ Toaster Oven
You can also learn how to make hot dogs using a toaster oven or a conventional oven if you prefer a crunchy, more flavorful dog.
Brush a bit of oil on the frozen hot dogs and bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400°F. Check and flip them regularly. Additionally, you can turn the temperature to 430°F to make them extra crispy and pretty-looking.
This technique is best when you plan to prepare tasty dishes with leftover hot dogs the following day. As this method allows the hot dogs to achieve their full flavor potential, you’ll find that the leftovers still taste amazing after being cooked a day or two.
3. Using An Air Fryer
In the air fryer basket, place a single layer of hot dogs and apply some oil on them. Air fry them for 6 minutes at 320°F. After that, flip them and put them back in the fryer, cook them for 6 more minutes at 360°F this time to make them crispy.
4. Using An Instant Pot
Add some water to the instant pot and place in the frozen sausages. Close the lid and cook them for 20 minutes. Once they are fully cooked, release the steam and remove them from the instant pot.
If you want to have your hot dogs with buns, you can put them in a steaming basket and place them in the hot instant pot. This is considered one of the best ways to steam hot dog buns.
For more instructions on cooking hot dogs in an instant pot, check this out!
For more information on thawing frozen hot dogs, take a look at the frequently asked questions below and find the answers you need.
Be Cautious When You Thaw Hot Dogs!
Thawing food safely may require extra time and effort, but keeping these tips in mind will keep you and your family members safe from food poisoning.
By the end of this article, I hope you can understand the effective methods to defrost or thaw hot dogs safely.
Do you have any concerns about this topic? Let me know in the comment section down below. Also, remember to give this post a thumb up and share it with your friend if you like. Stay safe and see you next time!
- Foodsafety.gov, 2021. Bacteria and Viruses.
- USDA, 2013. Hot Dogs & Food Safety.
- USDA, 2013. The Big Thaw — Safe Defrosting Methods.