Frankfurters may be named after a city in Germany, but there’s hardly anything more American than a good old fashioned hot dog. Here’s how Sunset editors are cooking up and topping theirs this coming July 4th.

Seattle Dog
Courtesy of Rain City Hot Dogs

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Three Good Options

There are three ways I love my hot dogs, and one of them is definitely shameful. The first way is classic—just a good old fashioned Dodger Dog with mustard and onions. The second way is delicious, and I make it at home. I boil an organic hot dog, melt American cheese on the bun in the toaster oven, and top it with Dave’s Gourmet Korean Foods kimchi, which I buy at the Atwater Village famer’s market. I call this creation, not surprisingly, a Kimchi dog, and I’d like to think that one of my culinary heroes, David Chang of Momofuku, would approve. Now for the embarrassing part. When I don’t have kimchi, I eat a cheese dog with ketchup. My parents are from New York, and my dad loves to tell me that this is Just. Plain. Wrong. I know, dad, I know. But since I can’t help myself, I think I’ll just have to keep eating my shame. —Deanna Kizis, Garden Editor

Seattle Dogs

In the time I spent living in Seattle there is one thing I loved the most: the infamous Seattle dog. There is no better feeling then heading out of a summertime Mariners game and stopping by one of the many hot dogs stands to grab a Seattle dog. A forewarning: Seattle dogs may not be for those of a pickier taste considering the wacky toppings that make them so unique and delicious. A Seattle dog is smothered in cream cheese and lies under a blanket of sauteed onions. Like I said, not for the faint of heart but don’t knock it till you try it! —Teaghan Skulszki, editorial intern

A Taste of Freedom

Summer 1982. I was (finally) allowed to ride my bike with friends over to Sun N’ Surf, an ambitiously named, tiny swim club in my Shawnee, Kansas neighborhood—which was approximately 1,000 miles away from the nearest surf. But I digress. At least twice a week, all summer long, I took advantage of my newfound independence by lining up at the Snack Shack for lunch, where I placed the same order: Hot dog with yellow mustard and sweet pickle relish on a grilled bun. They sliced the dog vertically and placed it on a seasoned grill until it was brown and bubbly. And it was perfect. Now that I’m an adult, and cannot swing a multiple-weekly-hot-dog-diet, it’s a less frequent indulgence. But when I do it, I do it right, with Snake River beef hot dogs from Idaho—a tip I snagged from Valerie Confections’ Instagram. They’re good. Cooked in a cast iron pan with a buttered and grilled bun, they’re really good. And to me, they taste like summer and freedom. —Christine Lennon, home and design editor

A Classic Condiment

A Chicago native once bought me a hot dog when I was visiting and almost wouldn’t convey my order to the guy running the cart. Just ketchup? A hot dog covered by nothing but a stripe of tomato sauce is regarded as naked in the Windy City, and locals avert their eyes at the indecency. And while I respect the craft of building a weenie topped by an entire produce department’s worth of vegetables, I’m a minimalist when it comes to hot dogs. All I require is a bun, lightly toasted in a pan with lots of butter; a frank, split open and grilled in that same pan; and ketchup. Not just any ketchup, though. I don’t care what brand the hot dog is, or even if it’s beef or pork—I like ‘em all. But the topping has to be classic Heinz. No Sriracha blend for me, and no barbecue/ketchup hybrid, either. Low-salt is not a viable option, and if you give me a no-sugar-added product, we are not friends. In almost every other part of my life, I’m all about fresh, unprocessed food, but on July 4, anything other than that sweet/salty goop that’s maddeningly hard to get out of the bottle seems almost un-American. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

It’s All About the Accompaniments

The last time I consumed a hot dog may have been at a ballpark two years ago. Since I’m long overdue for a hot dog run-in, I’ve given the toppings (and bun) some thought. Quickfire creation is what I’m aiming for here so there will be no coaxing onions to caramelize to top my dog. Or baking of buns in my non-existent oven. Just easy gets. Like creamy coleslaw and pickled vegetables.

With two great BBQ restaurants less than two miles from me—Culver City’s Holy Cow and Maple Block—I can pick up half pints of their coleslaws to compare. If you prefer making your own slaw, you’ll find inspiration here in our 12 Tasty Coleslaw Recipes round-up.

At any given time I have a few pickled veg options in rotation. On my want list are the Jalapeno Honey Dills from Denver’s The Real Dill. All of their pickles are small batch from scratch and this one uses Colorado wildflower honey. They are a zero-food-waste company with all food scraps being repurposed or donated to a local non-profit that composts them for their urban farming programs. Happy Girl Kitchen’s Spicy Bread & Butter Zucchini Slices are another favorite. Their products are available at various California Central Coast outposts, Bay Area farmers’ markets, and online. More than one jar is definitely called for.

I’m also ready for a ketchup upgrade although I have a massive soft spot for Heinz (thanks for including, Nicole!). Holy Cow offers a smoky ketchup that’s hickory-wood smoked for more than 2 hours. But if you’re not local, Good Food for Good’s organic ketchup is available at Whole Foods and online. They also offer a spicy one if you prefer your ketchup with a kick. No refined sugar is added but it is naturally sweetened with dates, which contribute to the smooth texture. Good Food for Good is a buy-one, feed-one venture. So you can feel good about consuming their ketchup. After a recent, disappointing ketchup experience at a local burger place, I’ll be spooning some of this into a travel size jar for my next burger and fries outing.

On the bun front Rising Hearts Bakery in Culver City offers gluten-free brioche hamburger and hot dog buns. They come in packs of 4 and you can freeze them for up to 3 months. And they ship if you don’t live locally. I’ll be heading there to grab some for the upcoming holiday. Toasting required. —Christine Bobbish, photo editor