This is one of the best-known food secrets to Phoenicians, kept largely unknown to the rest of the country. You need to make the bacon-wrapped Sonoran hot dog, topped with refried beans, guacamole, and SO much more. Pride yourself for knowing about this hot dog, and make some!
Local treat you can’t beat
Hot dogs are almost as diverse as pizza across the U.S. Even this regional version of the Sonoran hot dog has many faces, with different style buns and various Mexican-inspired toppings. The one element remains true, which is the bacon-wrapped hot dog. Don’t you dare mess with the bacon.
Sonoran hot dogs must have the bacon-wrapped dog. There really hasn’t been public debate on whether or not the hot dog must be all-beef, pork, or a combination. Frankly (hah) that’s not as important. I would use whichever hot dog tastes the best to you. Toppings are a completely different story, there are many varieties of combinations to keep it exciting. Trust me, this is an exciting hot dog.
Let’s talk about the different ways to cook a Sonoran hot dog, and then we’ll tackle the varieties of toppings!
How to prepare the Sonoran hot dogs
Around Phoenix, Tucson, and other cities we typically see carts or stands selling these. The most common way to prepare the hotdogs is to simply grill them on a flat top or griddle. This takes some micromanagement, but the chefs preparing them are generally making quite a few at a time so it’s much easier to time and flip. Cooking it on a griddle or skillet at home works well, you just need to be prepared for the bacon grease.
As a regular consumer of Sonoran hot dogs, I happen to have a strong opinion here: smoke and char enhance them. Choose to fire up the grill or your smoker, and there’s a new layer of flavor you’re building in. The bacon also tends to crisp up better, creating more texture as you bite into all of the soft layers.
Tips for Grilling
- Indirect grilling. You want to slowly cook the bacon or it will crisp too fast, shrivel, and fall apart. Use a 2-zone setup for the start, and finish over the flames.
- Toothpicks are generally a good idea. Flipping the hotdogs is necessary, so the bacon will fall apart easily if you don’t.
- Watch for flareups. Bacon clearly has a lot of fat, and this can cause unwanted flareups.
- Stay put. It’s easy to forget and have one side of the bacon suddenly char or crisp too much. Don’t walk away for too long.
Tips for Smoking
- Low and slow. 250°F the whole way is the best, allowing the bacon to render and crisp slowly over time. You’ll have maximum smoke flavor and the bacon doesn’t move around as much.
- No rubs needed. Bacon has salt already, and so does your hotdog. Adding chiles or herbs if you must, but this version of the hot dog is loaded with flavors. Smoke should be enough.
Load ’em up.
Oh the toppings. Clearly the most exciting part about the Sonoran hot dogs, and what separates them from the pack. There’s a few things that are absolutely key, and the rest are very flexible depending on your taste:
- Bacon-wrapped. If you don’t, it’s literally not a Sonoran hot dog.
- Mayo. Yup, a thin smear right over the top of the bacon before you put the other toppings on. It seems to bind everything together.
- Beans. Refried usually, but pinto beans on top are also acceptable.
- Tomatoes. These could be either small, diced tomatoes or a pico de gallo. No salsas, you want the small dices.
- Onions. Small, diced white onions are the most popular. Again, you can have this in your pico de gallo.
- Avocado. Not required, but extremely common. Typically this is an avocado puree because it’s easier to serve at a hot dog stand. Guacamole is a delicious choice and my preference.
- Pickled jalapenos. These are an acidic, spicy pop with each bite. Fairly common, especially in my house.
- Mushrooms. Not sure why these are so popular, but canned mushrooms are a very common topping. They are cooked down, so you’re not getting the tin flavor.
- Crema or sour cream. This works well if you’ve got a lot of spice in your toppings, such as chiles. Personal choice is the mayo, but you can’t go wrong.
- Cotija cheese. This is a crumbly, salty cheese. A delicious choice to finish off your toppings.