Hot Dog Sizes and Guidelines

From small to large, and every size in between, there’s a hot dog for every occasion. You can find them small enough to skewer with a toothpick or large enough to feed a family of 4. But what sizes do hot dogs normally come in?

The standard hot dog you can get at the grocery store or from a street vendor typically measures 6 inches long and roughly 1 inch in diameter.

Today, we’re going to discuss what a hot dog actually is, what sizes are available, and the various types of hot dogs.

What Is a Hot dog?

According to the USDA, hot dogs, also known as frankfurters, wieners, or bologna, are sausages that are cooked and/or smoked to meet federal standards of identity.

These standards dictate the process for making and selling meat products in the US and abroad and require that the sausages be made from the ground raw meat from livestock such as beef or pork, possibly combined with poultry meat. Smoked and cured ingredients provide flavor, color, and preservation. The sausages come in various shapes, from short and chubby to long and thin.

What Meat Cuts Are Used in Hot dogs?

Hot dogs can be made with just 3 ingredients: beef trimmings, salt, and spices. However, some hot dogs contain additional ingredients such as fillers, preservatives, and artificial additives. When selecting hot dogs, it’s important to consider the quality of the ingredients.

Using beef trimmings as an ingredient in hot dogs reduces food waste. Trimmings are the excess pieces of beef left over when producing cuts of meat, but they are still made from the same quality of meat. They can also be made with low-quality beef, chicken, or pork trimmings or mechanically separated meat.

Hot dogs are flavored with salt and spices, including paprika, garlic, onion, mustard, coriander, and mace, and sometimes contain sweeteners. In our hot dogs, we use all-natural cultured celery powder and sea salt instead of nitrates or nitrites to cure the meat and extend its shelf life, avoiding the use of artificial preservatives.

When reading hot dog ingredient labels, it’s important to look out for fillers and binders. The USDA limits hot dogs to containing no more than 3.5% non-meat binders, but some companies still use ingredients like cornstarch and dry milk powder, as well as artificial preservatives and colorants like sodium erythorbate, sodium propionate, and sodium phosphate.

Hot Dog Sizes

Like many types of food, hot dogs come in a variety of sizes.

The smallest hot dogs, known as cocktail wieners, are usually between 2 and 3 inches long. Standard hot dogs are about 6 inches long. Then there are footlongs that are, as its name suggests, 1 foot (12 inches) long.

Different Hot dog Types

While the term “hotdog” technically refers to the sausage, it’s commonly used to refer to the hotdog and bun. Here are a few regional hotdog variations you should try and their estimated calorie count.

Chicago-style hotdogs

Chicago style hotdogs

Chicago-style hotdogs are characterized by a specific combination of condiments and the use of a poppy seed bun. Yellow mustard, green sweet pickle relish, diced onion, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and a pinch of celery salt are typical ingredients. It’s a staple at Chicago’s hotdog stands and widely regarded as a culinary classic in the Windy City. Typically, the hotdog itself will be made entirely of beef.

Calories: 379

Michigan-style hotdogs

A Michigan-style hotdog is steamed and served on a steamed bun with a particular set of condiments. A hotdog made with beef and pork, chili sauce, diced onion, and yellow mustard are typical toppings. The iconic chili sauce is made with a special recipe; it has a sweeter flavor and thicker consistency than regular chili. This variety of hotdog is commonplace in Michigan eateries and other casual eating establishments across the Great Lakes region.

Calories: 430

Puka hotdogs

A Puka hotdog is a Hawaiian take on the standard American hotdog. The Hawaiian word “puka” means “hole,” which is literally what is done to the bun with a heating rod that toasts the bun at the same time. The hotdog itself is typically made of a grilled Polish sausage (around 8 inches long) or veggie dog that is stuffed into the hole of the bun. The hotdog is dressed with a special sauce, sweet mustard, and a relish made from exotic fruits. The final topping is typically a sauce made of mayonnaise, lemon juice, and garlic.

Calories: 537

Italian hotdogs

Italian hotdogs

New Jersey is the birthplace of the hotdog sandwich, also known as an Italian hotdog. Typically, it consists of a deep-fried hotdog in the shape of an oblong, served on a roll in the style popular in Italy and topped with various condiments. The hotdog is typically accompanied by a side of ketchup or mustard and topped with fried onions, peppers, and potatoes.

Calories: 590

Norwegian reindeer hotdogs

When you think of a hotdog, you might not immediately think of reindeer, but in Norway, they serve a special kind of hotdog made from reindeer meat. Most restaurants offer it on a hotdog bun with a variety of condiments like relish, ketchup, mustard, and sweet pickles. In the traditional cuisine of the Nordic countries, reindeer meat plays a central role due to its prevalence and reputation for its gamey flavor and tender texture. In Norway, you can find a lot of vendors selling hotdogs at fairs and other events in the open air. Since reindeer meat has such a distinct flavor, it’s not always easy to track down this particular brand of hotdogs if you’re not in Norway.

Calories: 330 (reindeer sausage)

Polish boy

Cleveland, Ohio is the birthplace of the Polish Boy hotdog, a specific variety of hotdog sandwich. The Polish Boy’s original and delicious sandwich features savory kielbasa sausage, tangy coleslaw, crispy fries, and sweet barbecue sauce.

Calories: 549

Cincinnati Coney

The Cincinnati Coney is a special kind of hotdog sandwich that was first made famous in that city. A beef hotdog is dressed with chili, onions, and mustard. The hotdog is often called a “Coney Island hotdog” and is served on a steamed bun. A Cincinnati Coney’s chili is a special sauce that’s made with a special blend of spices.

Calories: 309

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