Hot Dog Burnt Ends: The Perfect Smoke-Kissed Finger Food

September 23, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Unlike traditional burnt ends that are made from the point end of smoked brisket, this twist on the recipe uses hot dogs instead. It starts with generously coating hot dogs in a homemade rub and smoking them on low heat. Then chop them up and add butter, sugar, BBQ sauce, and more rub. And finally cranking up the heat and grilling till they get as crispy as you like. Easy right?

As a lover of backyard barbecues, I’m always on the lookout for fun, simple and practical dishes to serve. This recipe has proved to be a huge hit so if you are wondering what the fuss is all about, let me show you how it’s done.

In this article, I will show you how to make wood-fired hot dog burnt ends whether you have a smoker or not so, no excuse. Buckle up:

hot dog burnt ends

Smoked Hot Dog Burnt Ends in the Smoker

As they say, the key to a great recipe is preparation so let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need in these proportions:

Ingredients: Home Made Meat Rub

  • 4 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt


Pour your spices into a small bowl and give it a good mix. When well blended, set it aside.

Ingredients: Hot Dogs

  • 30 spicy beef hot dogs
  • 4 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
Variety of Ingredients on Glass Bowls


Prepare Hot Dogs

Start by coating your beef hot dogs with yellow mustard followed by three-quarters of the rub you set aside earlier. Whenever I run out of ingredients for my homemade burnt ends rub, I go for Traeger Grills Pork Rub. It is a simple mix of garlic, pepper, and brown sugar that never disappoints.

Lay your hot dogs on a clean cooking rack and set aside to absorb the seasoning.

Prepare the Smoker

To get the best hot dog burnt ends, I highly recommend cooking them low and slow at the beginning and using high temperatures to caramelize them at the end.

Get your smoker ready for indirect heat cooking. I like the charcoal snake method of fuel arrangement, but the minion method works just as well.

If you prefer to use wood chips to impart a particular wood flavor to the hot dogs, go ahead and place the chips above the lit coal. Remember, most of the smoke flavor is absorbed by food during the initial phase of cooking. So if you like a deep flavor, introduce your hot dogs as soon as the wood chips start smoldering.

Preheat your smoker to an initial cooking temperature of 225 degrees.

Smoke Hot Dogs

When the smoker is ready, gently place your hot dogs directly on the hot grill grates and close the lid. Smoke undisturbed for 1 hour.

Temperatures in the cooking chamber must remain constant to avoid uneven cooking.

Slice and Sauce

After an hour, remove your hot dogs from the smoker and lay them on a cutting board. Slice each one of them into 4 equal pieces measuring between 1-1.5″ thick.

Empty them into an aluminum pan or a disposable baking pan and top your hot dog pieces with unsalted butter, a generous coat of brown sugar, the remaining rub, and your favorite BBQ sauce. I am partial to Sticky Fingers Barbecue Sauce because it is sugar-free. Remember, we already have sugar in our list of ingredients.

However, if you only have sweet barbecue sauce on hand, you can always go easy on the brown sugar.

Toss the hot dogs to make sure each piece is evenly coated with the sauce mixture.

Crank It Up

Crank the smoker temperature up to between 375-400 degrees and smoke the re-seasoned hot dogs for an additional 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. I like my ends slightly charred so I let them cook on high heat for up to 40 minutes.

When your smoked hot dog burnt ends are done, the butter should be completely melted and the sugar should have caramelized beautifully around the hot dogs’ burnt ends.


Rest the hot dog burnt ends for around 20 minutes and then serve.

Sausages Coated with Pepper and Yellow Mustard

Smoked Hot Dog Burnt Ends in the Grill

If you do not own a smoker, don’t fret. You can still prepare smoke-kissed hot dog burnt ends using your grill in one of two ways:

Using a Smoker Box

Improvise a smoker box by using a nail to perforate a stainless steel can. Be sure to make plenty of holes to encourage the free flow of oxygen into the smoker box. This keeps your chips smoldering consistently.

Alternatively, invest in a store-bought smoker box. I use my Char Broil Smoker Box all the time to smoke on my grill. It is cheap and gets the job done.

Place this directly over the heat source.

Using a Foil Pouch

You can also use a foil pouch. This involves wrapping enough wood chips inside a pouch made of a double layer of aluminum foil. Use a fork to make holes all around the pouch to encourage free airflow.

Gently place your foil pouch directly over the heat source.

  • Armed with either a smoker box or pouch placed above the heat source, set up your grill for indirect heat cooking by lighting half the burners and leaving the others off. That way, one side stays warm while the other gets hot.
  • Set the grill to 200 degrees and lay your coated and rub-seasoned hot dogs onto a baking sheet as soon as the chips start smoldering.
  • In a few minutes, the cooking chamber will be full of aromatic smoke. Cook uninterrupted for about an hour, enough time for the hot dogs to absorb plenty of smoke.
  • After 1 hour, transfer the smoked hot dogs onto a cutting board and cut them into 1.5″ pieces.
  • Turn the heat up to 450 degrees.
  • Empty the hot dog pieces into a baking pan and top them off with butter, BBQ sauce, rub, and sugar.
  • Grill for another 30-40 minutes depending on how burnt you like them.
  • Rest and serve. You just smoked hot dog burnt ends on the smoker!

About the Ingredients and Variations

The numerous variations of this recipe prove that the BBQ world really is your oyster. There are plenty of hot dog burnt ends recipes and each serves different palettes.

Let us take a look at our ingredients and their substitutes to see how you can make this recipe your own:

Hot Dogs

I like to use spicy beef hot dogs because I find them incredibly tasty, especially with a deep smoke flavor but you can also use sausages.

BBQ Hot Dogs on the Flaming Grill

Brown Sugar

This chemical powerhouse is the queen of caramelization. Thanks to the Maillard or browning reaction, sugar enhances the formation of the burnt ends’ crust.

Without sugar, the exterior of your hot dog burnt ends would have a bland flavor and a soft, mushy texture which is the opposite of what we are going for.

I prefer brown sugar for its signature brown color that just woos your tongue. Alternatives include light brown sugar, white sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, and honey.

Brown Sugar Heap on the Spoon

Unsalted Butter

Butter keeps the hot dog burnt ends supple and juicy on the inside and also keeps them from getting scorched when you turn up the heat in the grill or smoker.

I use unsalted butter to account for the kosher salt in the ingredients. If you have salted butter, use it but reduce the amount of kosher salt you use.

Any cooking oil will get the job done so there are several alternatives to butter including olive oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil.

Unsalted Butter Placed on Parchment Paper

BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce brings a tangy twist to smoked hot dog burnt ends. You could also opt to use Worcestershire sauce, Mr. Yoshinds's Marinade & Cooking Teriyaki Sauce, or Cholula Chili Garlic sauce in place of BBQ sauce.

However, it is important to note that BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, and chili garlic sauce vary in taste and texture because they are made from different ingredients. This is sure to impact the taste of your burnt ends.

Yellow Mustard

Yellow mustard serves as a binder which is essential when you are working with a dry rub. See the thing with a dry rub is it is completely lacking in any moisture content and thus cannot adhere to food.

The moist nature along with its distinct flavor is what makes yellow mustard such an efficient binder.

Mayonnaise is a solid alternative. It won’t have the same flavor as mustard but it is equally thick.

Yellow Mustard on the Ceramic Bowl

Spices and Seasonings

These elevate the overall taste of the hot dogs. I encourage you to get experimental with your favorite spices and see what flavor profile you come up with: Here are a few pointers to nudge you in the right direction:

  1. Fiery hot dog burnt ends. In addition to black pepper and paprika, add cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes to your rub. Reduce the amount of sugar in your hot dogs and use a spicy chili BBQ sauce instead of regular BBQ sauce.
  2. Tangy hot dog burnt ends. To nail this profile, I suggest adding fresh lemon juice to the hot dog bits during the last cooking phase. Hot dogs soaked in lemon juice, sugar, and butter are sure to make mouth-watering smoked hot dog burnt ends with rich refreshing citrus notes.
  3. Super sweet smoked hot dog burnt ends. For those of you with a sweet tooth, reduce the amount of black pepper and paprika in your recipe or do away with them altogether. You can also add half a tablespoon of sugar to your dry spice mix to make a super sweet rub.

If you do not appreciate a deep smoky flavor, go for regular paprika instead of smoked, and use a few wood chips to flavor your hot dog burnt ends. A handful should be enough.

Food Seasoning, Spices, Oil and Other Cooking Condiments

How to Store Smoked Hot Dog Burnt Ends?

I doubt you will have any burnt ends leftover but if you do, they make a great to-go snack. Just divide them into portion sizes and transfer them into clean airtight containers or wrap them with cling film. This makes it easier to only reheat what you intend to consume.

Store in the refrigerator below 40 degrees for a maximum of 7 days or freeze them. for up to 2 months. Consume frozen hot dog burnt ends within one month for best quality.

How to Reheat Smoked Hot Dog Burnt Ends?

To reheat them, simply place the hot dogs on a baking sheet and reheat them in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until they reach your desired level of crispiness.

You could also pop them in the air fryer for around 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Why I Love Hot Dog Burnt Ends?

  1. I love making hot dog burnt ends for outdoor barbecues because they are a delicious treat perfect for a large number of people.
  2. These burnt ends are a highly versatile dish in that you can doctor the spices and ingredients to suit your palette.
  3. They store well.
  4. Smoked hot dog burnt ends pair divinely with a variety of sides. Some of them include french fries, potato salad, grilled corn on the cob, fried rice, mashed potatoes, baked beans, mac and cheese, toasted cornbread, coleslaw, and potato salad among many others.

To Sum It All Up

This recipe bypasses the long cooking hours familiar with pork belly and beef brisket to deliver badass wood-fired hot crusty burnt ends.

All you have to do is coat your hot dogs with yellow mustard and generously coat them with meat rub. Fire up your grill or smoker and cook them at 225 degrees. Chop them into 1-1.5″ long pieces, and cover them in your favorite sauce mixture. Top this off with butter, sugar, and a little more rub. Grill at 400 degrees till as caramelized as you like it.

These burnt ends take a relatively shorter time, pair with plenty of side dishes, and bring an overall fun twist to cookouts. With that, I’d say smoked hot dog burnt ends have earned themselves a spot in your recipe Rolodex.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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