There are few foods that are more American than hot dogs. Throw in some baseball or a grillmaster uncle and you’re experiencing one of the best bits of American culture, but what happens when you want to stay true to ketosis and still enjoy hot dogs? Can you enjoy delicious franks while keeping your health goals alive?
We have all the answers you need.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
- Whether or not hot dogs are keto
- What hot dogs actually are
- The best keto hot dog options
- What to avoid when choosing hot dogs
- The difference between franks, hot dogs, and bratwursts
- Some amazing keto hot dog recipes
Let’s dive in.
Are hot dogs keto?
Yes — you can eat hot dogs on the keto diet. You just need to avoid the carb-heavy buns and sugary toppings that often accompany them.
Meat in general is fine on the keto diet; it’s loaded with protein and is universally low-carb, so hot dogs fit right into that camp. The same goes for chicken dogs, turkey dogs, etc.
If you’re just eating the frank itself and not adding any carb-carrying ingredients alongside it, then you don’t need to worry about breaking your ketosis unless you’re already at the very edge of your daily carbohydrate intake.
What are hot dogs?
Hot dogs often get a bad rap. Frequently mischaracterized by health organizations and animal rights groups alike, it’s tough to know where they fit into a normal diet. Here’s what you need to know:
Conventional hot dogs are most commonly combinations of pork and beef meat trimmings. They can also be made from poultry trimmings if aiming for a chicken dog. Once these trimmings are collected, they are blended along with spices and curing ingredients into an emulsion. Then that emulsion is placed into a stuffer machine where it is put into a casing — most often one made of cellulose. Then the hot dogs undergo a smoking and cooking cycle before being cooled and peeled[*].
The quality of a hot dog comes down to how good the meat itself is, the meat trimmings selected, the cleanliness of the process, and the choices surrounding spices, the wood for smoking, and cook times/temperatures. For example, all of our meats come from sustainable family farms dedicated to providing healthier food alternatives. Our 100% grass-fed beef franks are uncured and have no nitrates, no nitrites, no MSG, and NO gluten, which makes for fantastic franks.
See why our customers love our sugar-free, all beef franks.
Hot dogs, like any food, shouldn’t be something you eat every meal, but when eaten in moderation you can absolutely enjoy delicious franks without a guilty conscience.
Hot dog nutrition
Hot dogs aren’t known for being nutritious, but it’s still helpful to know what nutrients you’re putting into your body when dieting.
Hot dogs are generally heavily processed and high in sodium and fat. Processed foods are associated with cancer, so you should eat foods like hot dogs in moderation[*]. Foods high in sodium also increase the burden on your heart, increasing the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other issues[*].
That being said, the quality of the nutrients and health of a hot dog can change substantially depending on what meat is used. The healthier the meat source, the better the nutrients.
By keeping your serving sizes small, pairing it with a healthy side, and opting for grass-fed franks, you can still enjoy delicious hot dogs without subjecting your body to too much stress.
According to the USDA, one beef frankfurter (48.6g) without a bun has[*]:
- Calories: 151
- Fat: 12.6g
- Sodium: 424mg
- Carbohydrates: 1.4g
- Sugar: 0.6g
- Protein: 5.69g
Without a bun, hot dogs, like all meat and fish, are keto-friendly and have a low carb count. They’re also high in protein, which will help keep you full for longer.
Carb counts of major hot dog brands
In case you’re wondering how much to add to your net carb intake for the day, we’ve listed the carb counts of some of the most popular brands of hot dogs. All of the carb counts listed are for one hot dog.
- Ball Park’s Beef Franks – 4g of net carbs
- Oscar Mayer’s Beef Hot Dogs – 1g of net carbs
- Nathan’s Skinless Beef Franks – 1g of net carbs
- Hillshire Farms Beef Hot Links – 4g of net carbs
- Hebrew National Kosher Beef Franks – 2g of net carbs
- Boar’s Head Beef Frankfurters – <1g of net carbs
Most of the variations in carbs come down to sugar content, but whatever kind you’re eating won’t affect your carb count too much!
Types of hot dogs to avoid on keto
As we mentioned above, there isn’t really a point to avoiding hot dogs from a keto perspective. They are low in carbs and high in protein, and you can eat them without worrying too much about breaking ketosis. That said, there are definitely ways to eat better hot dogs, and we mean better from both a nutritional and taste perspective.
Here’s how to pick up the best keto hot dog brands for your grill:
- Avoid hot dogs packed with sugar.
- Avoid hot dogs with preservatives like MSG and extra long ingredient lists.
- Avoid beef franks that aren’t sourced from grass-fed beef.
- Avoid hot dogs with extra gluten. This is used as an unnecessary binder.
And when it comes to the toppings you use, the same principles apply. Both mustard and mayonnaise are very low in carbohydrates, but you still need to keep an eye out for additives. And while you can probably get by with a little ketchup, it’s probably smarter to stick to mayo or mustard since ketchup tends to have a lot of sugar.
Hotdogs vs. franks vs. brats: is there a difference?
Sometimes the wording around hot dogs can get a bit confusing. What’s what? Are franks the same as hot dogs? What about bratwursts? Here’s the easiest way to think about:
Sausages are any type of ground meat wrapped in a casing, so that includes any word for hot dog you can think of. Hot dogs, weiners, and franks are the same thing, but bratwursts aren’t. The difference between bratwursts and hot dogs/franks come down to choices in spices and how finely you grind the meat. In general, hot dogs and franks have very finely ground meat and bratwursts are significantly coarser. Bratwursts are typically larger as well.
Best keto hot dog recipes
As mentioned previously, all hot dogs are keto-friendly, but not everything that goes with them, namely buns. Fortunately, there are ways to get at that bun craving in a keto-friendly way!
Clever keto chefs use almond flour, cheese, and eggs to create faux “buns” that are a delicious way to enjoy franks, and we definitely recommend trying them. Here are a few recipes that do a good job of using hot dogs in a keto context:
1. Chicago-Style Keto Hot Dogs
These keto hot dogs from Keto Focus look straight out of a 50s diner. The buns use almond flour, flax seed, and whey protein to give you that classic texture, and the hot dogs are topped with all of the best keto-friendly toppings including onions, pickles, mustard, and tomatoes. If you really want the full experience, start here!
2. Keto Chili Dog Casserole
If you want to go the cheesy route, then this keto chili dog casserole recipe from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom is the way to go. It’s perfect for eating plain or spooning on top of your favorite keto-friendly bread. To make this a bit more interesting, you could add in some hot peppers like jalapenos or use your favorite blend of cheeses.
3. Keto Hot Dog Buns
This recipe from Mama Bear’s Cookbook goes all-in on the keto bun side, so if you want to just make a bunch of low-carb buns, then this is the way to go. The bread sort of comes out like french bread, so you could easily eat eggs and avocado on this as well!
4. Keto Chili Dog Skillet
For another spin on the chili dog, try this recipe from Nathan’s Hot Dogs. It uses a cast iron to get that perfect crispy goodness on the bottom, and you can skip the sugar to drop the carb count even more. You could also mix up the meats in this for more variety, e.g. hotdogs, ground beef, and bratwursts.
5. Keto Jalapeno Popper Hot Dogs On-a-Stick
Jalapeno hot dog poppers on keto!? Say no more. Instead of a flour breading, this recipe from Mom Foodie uses a crispy cheese roll-up to mimic a classic popper. You just crisp up slices of cheese on a skillet with diced jalapeno and roll your hot dog in it. Don’t forget to pair it with the suggested cucumber feta salad — it makes all the difference!
Eat the best grass-fed franks in the United States
Our customers are in love with the flavor of our grass-fed beef franks.
If you’re looking for sugar-free, all beef franks you’ve come to the right place. These 100% grass-fed, grass-finished franks are perfect for the grill, roasted over a fire, or cooked on the stove.
Our beef franks are made as naturally as possible. That means they contain:
- NO nitrates
- NO nitrites
- NO MSG
- NO gluten
They also have a very low sugar content with 0.45 grams per 93 gram frank. This is so good for keto, and customers cannot get enough of their fantastic flavor.
Try our beef franks today.
Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.