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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke


If at First You Don't Succeed...

First Image
This weekend marked the one year anniversary of my smoker purchase. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve only had one failure in that time. This weekend I revisited that item and had much better results. We often learn more from our failures than our success, so failure isn’t always a bad thing. With all the different things I’ve cooked on the gas grill and smoker in the last year who would have though the humble hot dog would have tripped me up.

Last year on this weekend I’d assembled my smoker and cured the finish. The second weekend I made some
KANSAS CITY RIBS. Despite keeping them on a bit too long, these ranked as some of the best ribs I’d tried. Certainly better than what you get reheated from most of the BBQ places around here. I’m glad I had one successful smoke under my belt when I tried smoked hot dogs the next day. If I’d failed at hot dogs on my first attempt at using my smoker...

The idea for
SMOKED HOT DOGS came from looking through my copy of the well known Smoke & Spice BBQ cookbook. The authors raved about the taste and what could be simpler: Place the hot dogs on the smoker for an hour, take them off. No advance prep, no work during the smoke, take them off and they are ready to eat. Well I fired up the smoker and I did just that. The only problem was the resulting hot dogs were no better than boiled and had next to no smoke flavor.

I was very disappointed and I decided it was probably the hot dogs I used. I really like Kayem Deli Style hot dogs. Their natural casing crisps up nicely on the gas grill. I had a feeling this same skin was my downfall in the smoker. I decided that I would revisit smoked hot dogs when I found the right hot dog to try. It took a year, but a chance discussion in a class I teach gave me the answer. One of the students loved smoked hot dogs and said I should try Nathan’s. I bought Nathan’s, which were skinless, and tried them out this weekend. What a difference!!!


The first thing I noticed about these Nathan’s franks was the shape. They were actually flat on four sides with rounded edges. I would guess that this would make them easy to turn on the grill to cook all four sides. Another difference I noticed this year was my grill technique. I knew to fill the baskets up only part way with charcoal. The amount I picked was perfect as the temps were beginning to drop off at the end of the cook. Also I was able to use my SFB & chimney vents to get the Chargriller up to temperature 15 minutes after adding the lit charcoal from the charcoal chimney, instead of the 45 minutes last year. Lastly knowing the heat distribution in the Chargriller I moved the hot dogs midway through the cook. The row of dogs on the left took the place of the row on the right.

Last Year: Little Change After an Hour

This year: Dark & Plump

When I swapped the position of the dogs I could already see the difference. Last year the hot dogs did not change shape or color very much at all. The Nathan’s hot dogs were deepening in color telling me they were absorbing the smoke. Plus they were starting to plump. One hour total and they were plump and dark and ready to eat. In a word smoked hot dogs were: GREAT! You can see it in the pictures from this year and last year.

Last Year: Boiled Hot Dog Taste w/ No Smoke Flavor

This Year: Great Smoky Flavor

People who know me know I’m not a one word kind of guy. So a few more comments: First I’ll probably use a bit more wood. I used 3 chunks of Cherry that were between golf ball and tennis ball size. Second: I may also try Hickory instead. Lastly: These dogs have such a powerful and different taste I’m not sure I could do them as a steady diet. They would be too much of a good thing. I suspect that maybe once a month when I have something else on the smoker, I may toss on some hot dogs.

Moral of the story: I’m glad I revisited this failure. In my mind I knew that Smoke & Spice had a reputation as a good BBQ book. The problem had to be on my end. I was very glad I was able to ask some questions and get pointed in the right direction. If something doesn’t work out for you, seek out others who have mastered your problem meal. They are usually most willing to share.

Here is the link to the Pictures Page for


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