Hot Dog Burnt Ends {Simple Tricks for Amazing Results}

Here is a recipe for Hot Dog Burnt Ends that is deceptively simple but uses a few special steps to make the end product extraordinarily delicious!

Keep reading and we will cover:

  • Best Type of Hot Dogs to Use for Burnt Ends
  • How to Prep the Hot Dogs for the Smoker
  • Smoking the Hot Dog Burnt Ends
  • Serving the Hot Dog Burnt Ends

Hot Dog Burnt Ends in BBQ Sauce

Best Hot Dogs to Use for Burnt Ends

The first trick to making amazing Hot Dog Burnt Ends is to start with a great hot dog.

I use Nathan’s Colossal quarter pound 100% beef franks.  These hot dogs are massive which means you can cut them nicely (more on that later) and I prefer an all beef dog to ones that are a mix of pork, beef and chicken.

I would suggest staying away from the thin, cheap dogs.  Go ahead and spend some extra cash on the good stuff.

Package of Nathans Hot Dogs

Preparing the Hot Dogs for the Smoker

Getting he hot dogs ready for the smoker is a two step process that involves:

  • Cutting the Hot Dogs
  • Seasoning the Hot Dogs

Cutting the Hot Dogs for Burnt Ends

The first cut I make to the hot dog is along the length of the dog going down a little more than halfway through.  Do not cut all the way through the hot dog with this lengthwise cut.

This cut will let the hot dog open up into a “Pac Man” shape while it is smoking.  When the dog opens up it will take on even more smoke and be a better vessel for soaking up the barbecue sauce later on.

Slice the Hot Dog Length Wise

After the initial lengthwise cut is made turn the hot dog sideways and cut it into six roughly equal bite sized portions, each about one inch thick.

Seasoning the Hot Dogs

After the hot dogs have been sliced and cut it is time to hit them with a dry rub to add some great flavors.

The trick at this point is that you really should not use a commercial bbq dry rub.  Almost all commercial rubs have a lot of salt and more salt is the LAST thing that hot dogs need as they are already loaded in sodium.

Since the hot dogs already have plenty of salt I simply balance out the flavor profile with brown sugar and chili powder.  For this two pound batch of burnt ends I used:

  • 3 tbls brown sugar
  • 1 tbls chili powder

If you wanted to give these some heat then you could throw in a couple teaspoons of chipotle powder but think about if kids are going to be eating these bites before you get too crazy with the hot stuff.

Place the hot dog portions in a foil pan, add the dry rub and toss thoroughly to coat.

Season the Hot Dog Pieces

Smoking the Seasoned Hot Dogs

Set up your smoker to 225F.  I was cooking on my Z Grills pellet grill and burning hickory pellets.

I added a six inch smoke tube filled with smoldering pellets to the bottom grate and spread the cut up hot dogs to the top grate.

The hot dogs are already fully cooked so all we are doing at this point is adding some smoke and getting he rub to set.

Smoke the Hot Dogs at 225F

After two hours of smoking at 225F the burnt ends had opened up, taken on some smoke and were starting to caramelize from the sugar in the rub.

If you want to get some darker color then you can smoke the bites at 250F or just go another hour at 225F.  You really are just going by color and time at this point.

Hot Dog Pieces after Smoking

Saucing and Serving the Hot Dog Burnt Ends

After the hot dogs smoke for two hors transfer them to the foil pan and add two cups of barbecue sauce.  I went with Head Country Apple Habanero barbecue sauce which is the same one I use with Tri Tip Burnt Ends.

Toss the hot dogs to coat and return to the 225F smoker for one more hour.

After an hour the hot dog burnt ends are ready to eat!  If your crowd isn’t ready to eat just yet then you can wrap the pan in aluminum foil and let it stay warm in a 200F oven.

Alternatively, you could also make these a day in advance and store them in the refrigerator at this point.

Hot Dog Burnt Ends in BBQ Sauce

I pulled a few burnt ends from the pan to take the picture below but I normally serve these from the pan where they are bathing in the warm sauce.

Just stick a pile of toothpicks by the pan so people can poke a piece at a time and you will be amazed at how fast they disappear!

Hot Dog Burnt Ends

Hot Dog Burnt Ends

Hot Dog Burnt Ends

Jumbo hot dogs are sliced, seasoned, smoked and sauced to create an irresistible game day snack!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Calories 425 kcal


  • 2 lbs Nathans Colossal 100% Beef Hot Dogs
  • 3 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 2 cups Barbecue Sauce


  • Slice each hot dog halfway through in the lengthwise direction.
  • Cut each hot dog cross ways into six bite sized portions.
  • Season the hot dog portions with the brown sugar and chili powder.
  • Smoke the seasoned hot dog portions at 225F for two hours.
  • Place the smoked hot dog portions into a foil pan, add two cups of bbq sauce and toss to coat.
  • Return the foil pan to the smoker and cook uncovered for one more hour.
  • Remove the hot dog burnt ends from he smoker and serve!
Keyword Hot Dog Burnt Ends