Making Hot-Dogs

Hot Dogs

It's a while since I've done any sausage-making, what with trying to convert a bedroom into a work-space and not feeling too good. We really need to make a trip to buy meat but in the meantime I raided the freezer to make some hot-dogs.

"Hot-dogs", you ask, "Why would you want to make horrible fast food?". Well, my dear reader, there's a vast difference between what you buy on a Friday night when the clubs close and a good home-made hot-dog in a quality bun; ask any American! They virtually have wars over there as to which style is the best!

Now, I'll not make any bones about this, the process isn't easy; there are certain rules that have to be obeyed to get a good product (and the one pictured isn't a good product - but more of that in my next post). That said, it isn't too difficult if you obey the rules. Yes, it's more time consuming than you'd think, but the result is worth it.

A word about equipment: as well as the normal sausage-making equipment that I've talked about before, you'll need a food processor - the more powerful the better. Emulsifying sausage-meat to a paste will soon take its toll on an under-powered machine.

The recipe used is adapted from one by 'Big Guy', and is here:

Hot-dog recipe

Firstly, set your mincer up with a medium sized plate. Mine is a large mincer so I'm using a #6 plate. On smaller mincers use a #8 or #10 plate. We don't want the mincer to strain itself when it grinds the meat as this will heat the meat up: something we want to avoid.

medium mincer plate

Then get your beef and fatty pork very cold. I put mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Hot Dog Meat

Mince the meat.

Mince the meat with medium plate

...and then mince it again.

Then mince it again

Put the meat back into the freezer whilst you change to a small mincer plate. Ideally you'd use a #3 but as I don't have one, this #4.5 will have to do.

Smaller mincer plate

Make sure that the meat is really cold, then mince it again.

Mince the meat with the smaller mincer plate

Check that the meat is still really cold, then mince it yet again.

Mince the meat with the smaller mincer plate again

Check that the meat is still really cold, then mix in the other ingredients except the water. Either mix them very well by hand, or put them through the mincer again to mix them.

Add the other ingredients

Put the meat back into the freezer, clean down and set up your food processor. Now for this bit we want our meat really cold. The food processor will heat the meat up quickly. We need to keep it below 15°C (59°f) otherwise it'll split and be ruined. We're effectively making a meat mayonnaise!

When the meat is really cold, just above freezing, put as much of the meat as your food processor can cope with easily into the machine.

Only emulsify as much meat as your processor will cope with

Add a proportion of the iced water/slush and mix. Check the temperature as you do this to ensure it doesn't go above 15°C. I had to use around double the amount of iced water in the recipe; I think that this was because my meat wasn't as fatty as it should have been. Do the same with the other meat you have.

Mix it until it's a paste

It should form a smooth paste. Ideally, smoother than this!

The hot dog mix

Now quickly set up your stuffer

The hot dog mix

...and stuff the sausage-meat into 25-26mm collagen or sheep's casings - these are sheep's. If you want perfectly straight hot-dogs use collagen ones.

The hot dog mix

Twist the casings every 125 - 150mm (5 - 6 inch) and tie with string at the joints to ensure that they can't come undone. Then hang them to dry for a hour or so until touch dry. Place them in the smoker with the heat very low, around 40°C (104°f) until the casings are perfectly dry - around 30 minutes. Then apply heavy smoke at 50 - 60°C (112 - 140°f) for an hour.

In the smoker

Then you can either, gradually raise the temperature of the smoker over the next hour or so to a maximum of 80°C (176°f), or poach the sausage in water below 80°C (176°f), until they have an internal temperature of 72°C (162°f). I actually just held mine in a 'steamer' over hot water. The temperature around the sausage was 80°C (176°f).

Cook the sausage

Cool the sausage in iced water or by spraying with cold water, then cool further in a freezer or fridge. You want to get the temperature below 5°C (41°f) as quickly as possible.

Hot Dogs

The Whole Truth

My post above will make great hot-dogs, but as I intimated, that wasn't exactly so this time. It's a case of do as I say, not as I do!

So what went wrong? Or, it may be more pertinent to ask: "What didn't go wrong".

Firstly, the pork was nowhere near as fatty in reality as I remembered from when I put it into the freezer. You really need a good 20 - 25% fat to make a good hot-dog.

But that was just one thing..., when you make anything you're best to get all your tools assembled before you start. If you do, you won't then get to the stage where you want to stuff the sausage and remember that you gave the sausage tube that you need to your nephew to straighten out because you dropped and bent it! A 4 - 5 hour delay while you wait for said nephew to get back from work is not conducive to a good temper!

Once you've made the mistake though you shouldn't then try to rush things to catch up. This leads to sausages of uneven lengths (even if you choose to make some longer ones), insufficient drying of the sausage prior to smoking so that the smoke doesn't 'take' to the hot-dog, smoking the sausage in the dark so you can't see what the hell's going on, and finally managing to cook them at too high a temperature so that they are 'grainy' on the tongue!

Other than that, these were perfect!

OK, perhaps I'm making these out to be worse than they are; the kids still seem to like them, but they're not up to my normal standard.

It's a case of "Do as I say, not as I do"!

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There are seven comments


You mention goign to get meat, I was wondering where you get your from as I am on the hunt for some and am having mixed results in terms of pricing and availability. Is there a butcher/farm shop you recommend? (you may have covered this before, but I am a newish reader)

Halfpint, (Email ) (URL) - 21-06-’11 08:41

The dogs look good to me, I wish I could drop by for lunch. I like them with mustard and onions. Hope you are feeling better.

NCPaul, - 21-06-’11 14:55


Many thanks, I can do English or ‘ballpark’ mustard and the onions are no problem. No Pickle?

I’m guessing from your great blog that you are in the North of the County? Chantry Farm Shop has a very good name but won’t be cheap. Maybe ask them for a price on (say) half a pig, it’s generally a lot cheaper that way. I buy large pigs from a local (commercial) farmer and also from Joseph Morris a butchers and abattoir at S. Kilworth. If you want rare breed, Malt Kiln farm shop, Stretton-under-Fosse were doing half pigs at a very reasonable price (around £70 last time I enquired). Regrettably they’re a little small for the type of things I do but would be great for normal dining.

Phil, (Email ) (URL) - 21-06-’11 17:32

I run an event catering company and we sell gourmet hotdogs but they are from germany, really want them to come from uk or even better south east, but am struggling to find anyone who will make them, any ideas, contacts you may have would be very useful! We want 100% meat in natural casings.

kirsty, (URL) - 15-07-’12 18:50

Kirsty, I wish I lived in Hastings. Stick with your van, I’m sure that US style BBQ is going to be the next best thing. Please accept my apologies for the delay I’ve been in bed! I can’t help you myself as I don’t produce commercially.

However, I will put a post in the commercial section of the sausage-making forum – hopefully someone may respond.

Phil, (URL) - 21-07-’12 02:11

Hi, I did them yesterday, but they SEPARATED when I smoke them. Meaning they loose a lot of water and fat inside the casing.

What do you think I did wrong?

Mandy, - 02-03-’20 15:07
Phil Young

It sounds to me like they were too hot at some point in the process. Maybe post a photo at for more advice.

Phil Young, - 02-03-’20 15:26

I'm somewhat incapacitated at present so replies may take some time. Please post urgent enquiries at the forum.

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