My mom loves to host a gathering. She’s more than happy to cook a huge meal at every major holiday, even if there’s only a small group of us on-hand. My mom has a lot of tips and tricks up her sleeve for how to have many different dishes ready at the same time.
As for me, I’ve never quite had my mom’s knack for timing when it comes to feeding a crowd. I’ve even screwed up a casual backyard cookout before! That’s why I’m thrilled to share this new trick today.
I just learned that you can cook hot dogs in a crock pot. For me, this is a big deal. You might be wondering why I’d opt for cooking hot dogs in a crock pot over grilling them like a normal person. Let me count the ways:
- 1. You can make them ahead of time for totally hands-off cooking
- 2. It’s easier than chasing hot dogs around a hot grill when you’re trying to serve 20 or more people
- 3. You can achieve the same great taste that you get from a steamed hot dog (like the ones you get at the ball park)
- 4. Kids (and some adults) tend to be finicky about too much char on their grilled hot dogs
Have I sold you on this yet? Are you ready to learn how to make the easiest hot dogs ever? Great! Just follow this simple step-by-step tutorial.
What You’ll Need
- Up to 60 hot dogs
- A crock pot (6-quart size if you plan to cook 60 dogs)
- 2-4 hours
That’s it! Of course, you need hot dog buns and condiments if you’re planning to serve them traditional-style. You could also serve the hot dogs with macaroni and cheese (for a child’s birthday party) or as chili cheese dogs.
You do not need water or any type of seasoning for this “recipe”, although Adrian Bustamante from the YouTube channel CookingGuide says putting the dogs in some water can keep them from burning.
My experience has been that the hot dogs release some of their own juices as they cook in the crock pot. This happens when you grill them or pan fry them, too, so I choose to skip the water.
About Your Crock Pot
You can use just about any crock pot for this recipe. I have two older model crock pots that each have just one knob to set the temperature. I also have this model (thanks to Heavy.com for the great picture) which has push buttons and a digital screen and a timer (which I recommend using in my step-by-step instructions, below).
The newest models made by Crock Pot have digital touch screens and a lot of different features and functions, like this 5-in-1 Multi-Cooker. All that said, we’re really just heating hot dogs, so you don’t need the fanciest model crock pot. Use what you’ve got, and adjust the amount of hot dogs for the size of the pot.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Place The Hot Dogs In the Crock Pot
Remove the hot dogs from their packaging and place them in the ceramic dish of the crock pot. How you arrange the hot dogs depends on how many dogs you are cooking.
If you are using a large crock pot (like a 6-quart pot) and only have 20-30 hot dogs, you can just toss them into the pot. The folks over at RecipesThatCrock.com used this method; they simply piled the hot dogs up in the crockpot.
If you’re trying to cook 60 hot dogs at once in a large crock pot, I recommend doing what Stephanie O’Dea from AYearOfSlowCooking.com did, which is to stand the hot dogs up on their ends and pack them in tightly. This method takes a few more minutes, but it’s the only way you’ll be able to fit all the hot dogs into the crock pot.
Pro Tip: You can also cook the mini hot dogs (also known as “cocktail wieners” or “little smokies”) using this same method. You can probably fit three to four packages of those little guys into a 6-quart crock pot, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to stand them on their ends!
A lot of recipes for mini hot dogs call for making a sauce, like this one for Honey Garlic Crockpot Little Smokes from FamilyFreshMeals.com, which sounds delicious!
2. Cover the Crock Pot
If you’re new to crock pot cooking, you should know that keeping the cover on the pot–and not lifting it too often–helps to keep all the heat and cooking magic in the pot. If you’re wondering if the crock pot is heating up, you can gently touch the sides to check the temperature.
Need to learn more about using your crock pot? This video provides a great introduction.
3. Cook for 2-4 Hours
One of the great things about this cooking method for hot dogs is that you can speed it up if you’re short on time, or plan way ahead on the morning of your party.
If you’re short on time, set your crock pot to the High setting and cook for two hours. If your crock pot has features like a timer and warmer, you should set the timer for two hours, and then have the crock pot switch to Warm setting.
If you have plenty of time before you need the hot dogs to be ready, set your crockpot on Low for four hours. (Follow the same timer/warming steps above).
Pro Tip: If you’re in the market for a new Crock Pot (you can never have enough; I have four), check out this Wifi-enabled model that lets you change heat and timer settings using an app on your phone!
4. Check the Temperature of the Hot Dogs in The Center of The Crock Pot
Crock pots are great because they conduct and hold a lot of heat. The hot dogs in the middle of the pot should be hot enough by the end of two or four hours, but always check them before serving.
Even if the hot dogs in the center of the pot aren’t piping hot, hot dogs are packaged fully cooked, so they should be safe to eat.
5. Serve and Enjoy
I like to serve the hot dogs right out of the crock pot. That way they stay warm and I don’t have to fish them all out of the pot after spending time to get them all in there!
I also like to keep the crock pot on Warm mode for the rest of the party or cookout. This keeps them ready for friends who arrive late, or anyone who wants to snack hours after we’ve eaten the main meal.
“Cooking” Made Easy
I really can’t believe that it never occurred to me to cook hot dogs in a crock pot before. There have been so many times when I’ve had a house full of people, only to be sweating bullets over my jam-packed outdoor grill, trying to keep everything from burning.
Now I just need to figure out how to make 30 hamburgers in the crock pot!
Don’t forget to check out that new Wifi Crock Pot. Technology may be taking over our lives, but if I’m going to arrive home two hours later than planned, I’d love to have the option to check on dinner from my phone.
Are you as excited as I am about this new trick to cooking for a crowd? Leave a comment or share your crock pot tricks!