Fact Checked

What Is a Hot-Dog Toaster?

Dale Marshall
Dale Marshall

Marketed as a labor-saving device, a hot-dog toaster is a household appliance built to cook hot dogs and their buns without having to use a stove or microwave oven. About the same size as a traditional toaster, a hot-dog toaster usually has slots to cook two hot dogs and two hot-dog buns at a time. The cooking element itself is an infra-red heater, and the device operates on a timer, shutting off the cooking elements once the cooking time ends. Some models allow for adjustable cooking times. Hot-dog toasters are relatively easy to clean, with a removable tray below the cooking area to catch fats, juices and crumbs.

It’s a fairly commonplace error to lump all hot-dog cookers together, but the hot-dog toaster shouldn’t be confused with other devices such as hot-dog steamers. These devices are also electrically operated, but require the addition of water for proper operation. They generally can steam more than two hot dogs at a time, but they take longer than a hot-dog toaster and often cannot steam or toast the hot-dog buns.


A hot-dog toaster is a useful device for a single person who generally eats no more than two hot dogs at a time. For a larger crowd, however, limiting the production of cooked hot dogs to two at a time may be an inconvenience they’re not willing to put up with; such crowds may require additional hot-dog toasters or a different method of preparation. This is why it’s generally not a good idea to use a hot-dog toaster in a commercial operation. Other than in a home, the most likely places one might find hot-dog toasters in regular operation are college dorm rooms or break rooms in offices or production facilities.

A hot dog on a toasted bun.
A hot dog on a toasted bun.

Consumers are well advised to read the fine print before purchasing a hot-dog toaster. Many owners’ manuals caution users to only toast standard-sized hot dogs. Jumbo hot dogs and “plumping” hot dogs, especially, may expand during the toasting process and get stuck in the toaster. Hot-dog-sized sausages also may not cook properly in a hot-dog toaster.

As with many consumer goods, there are many competing brands offering products of varying quality. Some earn consistently positive reviews from consumers; others, though, earn mostly negative reviews. Consumers should read through some of these reviews to get an idea of the quality of the brand they’re considering purchasing. Some hot-dog toasters, for instance, are poorly reviewed because they cook the hot dogs and buns unevenly, burning some parts and undercooking others.

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Discussion Comments


Who eats enough hot dogs to need a hot dog toaster, especially if it can only cook two at a time? Why not just use a microwave or a pan or a grill or a boiling pan of water? It seems like this would be the least convenient way to cook a hot dog.


The article makes a good point when it cautions against suing your hot dog toaster for things besides hot dogs. I once tried to cook two Italian sausages in the hot dog toaster and they ended up exploding inside getting grease and meat all over the heating coils and insides. It was a huge pain in the neck to clean up.

I used to have a tiny little studio apartment and I got a ton of use out of a hot dog toaster. I would make hot dogs of course but I also found ways to make chicken fingers, eggs, and even actual toast.

It took a little bit of ingenuity and not every experiment turned out great. Still, for the amount of space it took up and the amount of money I paid for it it was definitely worth it.

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    • A hot dog on a toasted bun.
      By: Brenda Carson
      A hot dog on a toasted bun.