How to Make Slow Cooker Hot Dogs (with Tasty Results)
How to Make Slow Cooker Hot Dogs? I’ve recently become a big fan of using my slow cooker, and it’s not even chili season! I’ve discovered that I have a lot more time to spend with my family during the weekdays when the slow cooker is doing the active work of cooking dinner. Prep time is about the same, but boy, do I gain a lot of extra time when I’m not slaving over the stove.
On hot days, I would always choose the grill over the stove or oven, to keep from heating up the kitchen. Lately though, I’ve been using my slow cooker and I’m able to stay even cooler! This is when I discovered that I can make hot dogs–a backyard party staple–without ever having to start the grill.
Never heard of slow cooker hot dogs? I hadn’t either, but a quick Pinterest search taught me that I’m not the first to discover this awesome cooking method. It has saved me so much time that I just had to share it with you.
What You’ll Need
- Hot dogs (up to 60 if you’re using a 6-quart slow cooker)
- Slow cooker (see below regarding size)
Slow Cooker Size
You can use this cooking method no matter what size slow cooker you have on hand. When trying to determine how many hot dogs you can fit into your slow cooker, remember that a 6-quart cooker can fit up to 60 dogs. By that math, a 3-quart slow cooker can accommodate 30 hot dogs.
If you are in the market to purchase a new slow cooker, I recommend selecting a large model, even if you don’t have a large family. You can cook bigger meals to have leftovers for the next few days, or easily cook for a group of friends.
I’m a big fan of this colorful, 7-quart Black + Decker cooker, which has a simple dial (or knob) for controlling the settings. If you want less flash and more features, this Frigidaire Professional Stainless 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is a good choice.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1. Arrange the Hot Dogs in Your Slow Cooker
Pay close attention to this first step if you’re trying to get the maximum amount of hot dogs into your slow cooker! Although this cooking method is super easy, I’m not telling you to just throw the hot dogs into the slow cooker. You need to arrange them.
Remove the hot dogs from their packaging and place them in the slow cooker vertically. As in, standing on their ends. Place one or two hot dogs on their end, pressed right up to the side of the slow cooker. Hold the hot dogs in place while you grab a few more with your other hand.
Continue to stand a few hot dogs at a time while holding them in place with one hand. This arrangement will allow you to pack your slow cooker full of hot dogs. They should look like this image from 365ishpins.com.
Here’s another image from AYearOfSlowCooking.com; just look at how many hot dogs she can neatly fit into her cooker! (Side note: I’m totally buying her cookbook, 365 Slow cooker Suppers).
If you’re not filling your slow cooker to the brim with hot dogs, you can simply lay the hot dogs down like the folks over at RecipesThatCrock.com.
Pro Tip: If you’re cooking hot dogs for a kids’ party (or even for your own children), you can chop the hot dogs up into bite-size pieces before putting them in the slow cooker. Thanks to DamnDelicious.net for the photo that inspired this idea.
Step 2. Cover Your Slow Cooker
Since you’re not adding any water to your slow cooker and dogs, you need to put the cover on your cooker securely, and leave it on. This Slow Cooker Tips for Dummies video says it takes up to 20 minutes to recover the heat lost every time you take the cover off your slow cooker.
As the slow cooker heats up and the hot dogs begin to cook, the dogs will release juices (just like they do on the grill). This moisture will condensate on the inside of the slow cooker cover, and drip down on the dogs, creating a steam effect. The result is juicy hot dogs, so keep the lid on your slow cooker until it’s time to eat.
Step 3. Set the Temperature & Timer – and Walk Away
You can start your slow cooker hot dogs anywhere from 2 to 6 hours ahead of when you plan to eat. You will adjust the temperature based on the amount of time you have.
If you have 4 to 6 hours before you plan to eat, set your slow cooker to Low heat mode and set a timer for 4 hours. When your timer goes off, set your slow cooker to Warm mode, to keep the hot dogs warm while everyone has time to eat.
If you have only a couple of hours before you plan to eat, set your slow cooker to High heat mode and set a timer for two hours. After the two hours, set the slow cooker to Warm mode.
The key to this step is to “set it and forget it”. Walk away. Go to the store. Help your kids with their homework. This cooking method is all about letting the slow cooker do the work while you have time to do something else.
Pro Tip: If you’re having a bunch of people over, or are making slow cooker hot dogs at an event, put the slow cooker in a convenient, out-of-the-way spot. Four to six hours is a long time to have kids or partygoers steer clear of the hot slow cooker.
Step 4. Rotate the Hot Dogs (If Necessary)
Slow cookers are made to cook large batches of food all the way through, but you should always check the temperature of your food before serving it to others. Pull out a few hot dogs from the center of the slow cooker and see if they are hot enough to serve.
If any hot dogs are not hot enough, rotate them with a few hot dogs that are on the edges of the slow cooker. Placing hot dogs against the side surface of the slow cooker, like this (thanks to Spaghettiandgravy.blogspot.com for the photo), will allow them to get more heat, even if the slow cooker is in Warm mode.
Step 5. Serve (Right Out of the Slow Cooker)
You can keep your hot dogs in the slow cooker and serve right out of it. Keep the slow cooker on Warm mode and cover it after everyone has been served. This keeps the dogs warm during the meal (for anyone who wants seconds or thirds), or for anyone who arrives late.
Pro Tip: You can store leftovers right in your slow cooker’s ceramic pot. Allow the slow cooker to cool down, cover and remove the ceramic pot, and put the entire thing in the refrigerator.
(Credit for photo of hot dogs in buns goes to Jeff Kaufman and Connecticumag.com)
Save Some Time with Your Slow Cooker
This hands-off approach to making hot dogs is so simple, and can save you so much time doing it. There is practically no prep (unless you cut the hot dogs into smaller pieces), and you can even crank up the heat if your guests will be arriving soon.
If you make slow cooker hot dogs, leave a comment about how they turned out (and how impressed your friends and family were). And let me know what you think about that cool Black + Decker slow cooker; do you think that it’s too “flashy” for your kitchen?