Hot Dog Ingredients Guide

Hot Dog Ingredients Guide

From the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

A Guide to Common Ingredients in Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are among America’s most popular foods, but consumer surveys indicate that many hot dog lovers aren’t sure how they are made and why some ingredients included on the label are used.


hot dogs on the grill

Hot dogs are much like cakes: different recipes create very different tastes and textures and people have strong personal preferences. Many recipes require many different ingredients, including spices, flavorings, preservatives, binders and additives that combine to give hot dogs their distinctive taste and texture. Ingredients added to meat and poultry in a hot dog recipe can add flavor, keep hot dogs moist and juicy and delay spoilage, and perhaps most importantly…provide food safety.

Any non-meat ingredient included in a meat product must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates and inspects meat and poultry products. Approximately 2,800 food additives have been FDA-approved after a thorough review of their safety. Only a fraction of these approved ingredients are commonly used in meat products like hot dogs. Ingredients can perform important functions like “curing” meat products and preventing bacterial growth.

All hot dog ingredients must be clearly detailed on the product ingredient statements, from the greatest amount to the least added. With so many different hot dog manufacturers, flavor profiles and even nutritional goals, each uses slightly different types and amounts of ingredients. The following is a guide to the variety of ingredients that may be found in hot dogs: