Before I moved to the U.S. 20 years ago, I thought all hot dogs were split lengthwise down the center and grilled. I didn’t know there was another way of preparing hot dogs because in Paraguay, where I was born and raised, that’s how my parents made them.
We borrowed this technique for butterflying and grilling hot dogs from a popular South American sandwich called choripán. It’s a portmanteau of chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread)—the chorizo is grilled or griddled, butterflied, flattened, and served in a roll with herby chimichurri or salsa. Like choripán, we sometimes treated the hot dog like a slab of meat between two slices of bread. Other times, we tuck it in a classic hot dog bun with ketchup and mustard.
Even now, it’s the only way I cook hot dogs for my own family because it’s the superior way. Try this simple technique of butterflying and grilling hot dogs, and you’ll never go back to eating them any other way.
How to Butterfly and Grill Hot Dogs
Use the tip of a pairing knife to slice the hot dog lengthwise. Cut deep enough to be able to open and flatten the hot dog without splitting it in half. For safety’s sake, don’t do this while holding the hot dog in your hand. Instead, place it on a cutting board, hold the hot dog in place with your thumb and pointer finger, and run the pairing knife down the center.
Grill the hot dogs over high heat, cut-side down for about two minutes. I place a heavy heatproof pan on top (you could simply press them down with tongs) to flatten the links for maximum contact with the hot grates. Flip them and grill the other side for two minutes.
3 Reasons You Should Butterfly Your Hot Dogs
1. More Char and Flavor
The best part of a grilled hot dog is the char from when it’s exposed to an open flame’s high heat. And as the smoke rises in the grill, the hot dog is enveloped in a smoky scent and flavors that scream SUMMER! When you butterfly a hot dog, you almost double the surface area exposed to smoke and heat, which means more flavor and more char.
2. Juices on the Bread
This is my favorite thing about butterflied hot dogs: The exposed, cut side of the link presses against the hot dog bun—its smoky, beefy, and salty juices cling to the bread, flavoring it. This is the type of next-level deliciousness that can’t be expressed through words. You have to experience it to understand.
3. Cavity for Toppings
When you snuggle the butterflied hot dog in a hot dog bun, you get a deep canal for ketchup, mustard, and relish—no topping is sliding off this hot dog.