Hot dogs might not measure up to most gourmet fare, but they are a big part of some of America’s favorite pastimes. National Hot Dog Day falls on July 23, which is conveniently right in the middle of baseball and summer grilling season.
While you often hear that hot dogs are nutritionally unsavory, there are a lot of lighter options out there for anyone who wants keep things on the healthier side.
Whether you’re buying beef, pork, turkey, chicken or veggie hot dogs, you should always pay attention to whether or not the hot dog has added nitrites or nitrates. Once digested, nitrites and nitrates can form compounds that have been known to cause cancer. To make your hot dog meal healthier, you can serve it topped with fiber-rich sauerkraut, in a whole-wheat bun or alongside a full plate of brightly-colored fruits and vegetables.
However, if you want to avoid the nutritional trap of hot dogs entirely, you can look to five of our favorite healthier hot dogs to satisfy your cravings without an added helping of guilt.
Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs: Because these dogs are uncured and made from grass-fed beef, they contain very few nitrates. With only 70 calories and 6 grams of protein per serving, you can skip the bun and chow down on two if you if you’re following a low-carb diet.
Oscar Mayer Turkey Select Franks: If you’ve been chowing down on frankfurters from the ubiquitous yellow package, you don’t have to give up your favorite classic if you’re dieting. Cut down on saturated fat with smoky turkey sausages that have more flavor than some of the beef hot dogs we’ve tried.
Applegate Farms Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs: Though these have a relatively simple flavor profile, they’re great for barbecues where you might be eating a lot of side dishes. Low in fat, this is great for the calorie counter or anyone looking to lighten up their diet this summer.
Morningstar Farms Original Veggie Dogs: Made with eggs, soy, corn and a bold garlic flavor, Morningstar offers the perfect option for anyone who’s abstaining from meat at the next summer cookout. The texture won’t let you think you’re eating a “real” hot dog, but it just might be the next best thing.
LightLife Smart Dogs: Herbivores will be happy to see that there is a protein-packed, meat-free hot dog on the stands. With a texture reminiscent of a beef hot dog and a flavor that closely matches that of a smoky barbecued hot dog, meat-free and meat-eaters alike will enjoy these ballgame staples.