The base for any hot dog, whether beef, pork or chicken, starts with the "trimmings". Picture: Needpix
The base for any hot dog, whether beef, pork or chicken, starts with the "trimmings". Picture: Needpix

WATCH: Do you really want to know what goes into making your favourite hot dog?

By Lifestyle Reporter Time of article published Jul 1, 2020

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Juicy hot dogs are the staple of every weekend snack. Whether you prefer to eat them on their own or cushioned between a soft hot dog roll, you know exactly what you're letting your taste-buds in for. Or do you?

But if you want to be more mindful of what you're putting in your body, best you read on.

The base for any hot dog, whether beef, pork or chicken, starts with the "trimmings". Think of it as a more pleasant term for leftover meat cuts like fatty tissue, sinewy muscle, and sometimes liver.

Trimmings can also include blood, skin and feet. And guess what? It's all above board, according to the country's nutritional food rules.

Once everything is combined, the gristle (cartilage, bones, etc) is pre-cooked to kill bacteria, resulting in a paste.

During this process, additives are introduced to the mix. The meaty paste is then pumped into its casing to maintain the hot dog shape.

The hot dogs are then rinsed. In some cases, the casing is removed, and ready for consumption.

Feeling a bit queasy? Don't worry. If you want to make sure you're getting a quality product, only buy hot dogs labelled "all beef" or "all pork", etc. 

Make your own homemade hot dogs:


  • 1/4 cup very finely minced onion
  • 1 small clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2​ teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 ​teaspoon freshly fine ground white pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 450g lean pork (cubed)
  • 340g lean beef (cubed)
  • 113g pork fat (cubed)
  • 4 feet sheep casings, or small hog casings


Make the filling

In a food processor, puree the onion, garlic, coriander, marjoram, mace, mustard seed, and paprika. Add the pepper, egg white, sugar, salt, and milk and combine well. One at a time, grind the pork, beef, and fat cubes through the fine blade. Combine the three and grind them together. In a large bowl, combine the pureed seasonings with the meat and mix with your hands. Wet your hands with cold water to prevent the mixture from sticking to them. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes, and then grind it again. Set aside while you prepare the casing.

Prepare the casing

Rinse the casing under cool running water to remove the salt. Place it in a bowl of cool water and soak it for 30 minutes.

After soaking, run cool water over the casing. Slip one end of the casing over the faucet nozzle and firmly hold it in place. Turn on the cold water, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This will flush out any salt in the casing and help you spot any breaks. Should you find one, simply snip out a small section of the casing.

Put the casing in a bowl of water and add a splash of white vinegar. (A tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water is sufficient.) The vinegar softens the casing and makes it more transparent, which in turn makes the hot dog look nicer. Leave the casing in the water and vinegar solution until you are ready to use it. Rinse it well and drain before stuffing.

Stuff the casings

Using a sausage stuffer, fill the casings with the meat mixture and twist them off into 6-inch links. Parboil the links (but don't separate them) in simmering water for 20 minutes.

Place the ​franks in a bowl of ice water and chill. Remove, pat dry, and refrigerate. You can refrigerate them for one week or freeze them for future use.

Source: The Spruce Eats

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