The Best Vegan Hot Dogs For Summer Grilling

One thing that bugs me a little is when I hear people who still eat meat question why vegans and vegetarians would want to eat something that mimics meat (i.e. meat alternatives). They sometimes ask, “Don’t you hate meat? Why would you want something that tastes like it?”

The truth is, many of us grew up eating meat and didn’t stop eating it because we hated the taste. Some do but not all of us. People become vegan and vegetarian for all sorts of reasons. For us, it was because of our love for animals. Others quit meat for health reasons or because they don’t want to support the meat and dairy industries.

We all have strong connections to the foods we grew up with. For me, growing up in a Hispanic household, Sundays meant sweet bread and barbacoa (shredded beef) tacos. The same is true of hot dogs—they represent summer barbecues, tailgating at baseball games, and fun family cookouts.

If you’re new to veganism or vegetarianism, social events where meat is the star can feel particularly tricky. Luckily, the rise of plant-based foods means plenty of options to let you enjoy the flavors you love without compromising your values. While I’m personally not a huge fan of fake meats, I do appreciate that they’re a great transitional food item that can help people make the switch.

In this article, we’re firing up the grill to find the best vegan hot dogs of 2024. Get those buns ready—it’s going to be a tasty ride!

You can listen to us discuss here or read on for a more in-depth discussion of vegan hot dogs, along with links to everything we discuss on the podcast.

Vegetarian Zen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a monetary commission. Additionally, the information presented is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor. Learn More.

the best vegan hot dogs for grilling cover photo

What Makes a Hot Dog Vegan?

At its core, a vegan hot dog is a plant-based sausage designed to mimic the taste, texture, and look of traditional meat hot dogs while being entirely meat-free. The magic starts with a blend of plant-based ingredients carefully crafted to deliver that familiar flavor and bite.

Common protein bases include soy, seitan, or pea protein to offer the structure and chewiness needed for that satisfying snap.

These proteins are enhanced with a mix of seasonings, spices, and flavorings to replicate the smoky, savory, and sometimes slightly spicy flavor that makes real meat hot dogs so appealing. Liquid smoke, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices are often used to create the taste we all know from real meat hot dogs. 

Binders and texturizers like wheat gluten or tapioca starch help give vegan hot dogs their structure and ensure they hold together well. They also contribute to that firm yet tender texture, whether grilled, steamed, or pan-fried.

On top of that, healthy oils (such as coconut or sunflower) add juiciness and richness to mimic that of traditional hot dogs. Some brands even use beet juice or other natural ingredients to give the hot dog its characteristic pink hue.

The final result is a hot dog that looks, tastes, and cooks just like its meat-based counterpart but leaves a smaller environmental footprint and opens the door to many creative culinary possibilities.

Ingredients Lists and Nutritional Benefits of Veggie Dogs

Meat alternatives like vegan hot dogs are indeed processed foods, but many are a healthier choice than regular hot dogs. 

Most vegan hot dogs are made from protein-rich bases like soy, seitan (wheat gluten), and pea protein. You can find special versions for those who can’t have gluten or soy.

They also use healthy oils like sunflower or coconut, giving you important fatty acids. They’re often packed with essential vitamins and minerals like B12 and iron, making them, in moderation, a great addition to a balanced diet.

Vegan hot dog manufacturers often skip artificial preservatives and genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), which means a cleaner, more natural list of ingredients. The healthy fats help reduce saturated fat content and eliminate cholesterol, making them a better option for your heart.

OK, but now for the million-dollar question we know all too well, “But where do you get your protein?” 

Vegan hot dogs can offer as much protein as—or even more than—their meat-based cousins, while also providing vitamins and minerals that might be tricky to get in a plant-based diet. And since they’re free from animal products, they come with zero cholesterol.

Opting for plant-based hot dogs lets you enjoy a tasty meal that fits your health goals and ethical values while being kinder to the planet!

Top Vegan Hot Dog Brands

Numerous veggie hot dog brands on the market offer delicious plant-based alternatives to traditional meat hot dogs. Whether you’re looking for something to throw on the grill at your next cookout or simply craving a tasty hot dog for lunch, these top vegan hot dog brands are sure to satisfy your cravings.

1. Tofurky

Tofurky is the “OG” of plant-based alternatives. (Do kids still say “OG”? LOL) 

A pioneering name in the plant-based world, Tofurky offers a line of vegan hot dogs that don’t disappoint. Their “Jumbo Hot Dogs” boast a rich, smoky flavor, mimicking the classic taste of a summer barbecue. They use non-GMO soy protein and wheat gluten for a satisfying bite. Perfect for grilling, Tofurky’s sausages are seasoned to perfection, delivering a mouthwatering experience with every bite.

Tofurky’s Beer Brats deserve a special mention alongside their Jumbo Hot Dogs. These beer-infused brats are crafted with a blend of wheat gluten and tofu, giving them a robust, satisfying texture that holds up well on the grill. The beer flavor, paired with a delicious mix of spices and seasonings, gives these brats a unique, savory taste with a hint of hops that complements sauerkraut, mustard, and other classic toppings.

2. Field Roast Signature Stadium Dogs

Field Roast takes pride in creating artisanal plant-based meats, and their frankfurters are no exception. Field Roast Stadium Dogs are made with a blend of fresh garlic, paprika, and ground mustard. These sausages offer a unique, smoky profile that pairs wonderfully with a bun and your favorite toppings. Their wheat protein base gives them a firm texture, making them ideal for pan-frying or grilling.

3. Lightlife

Lightlife is known for its commitment to quality, and its Jumbo Smart Dogs are a staple among vegans. These hot dogs are soy-based and come in original and jumbo varieties. 

They offer a mild flavor that caters well to kids or anyone looking for a lighter taste. Smart Dogs grill nicely and are quick to prepare, making them great for a fast and wholesome snack.

4. Beyond Sausage

Beyond Meat has made a significant mark on the plant-based world, and its “Beyond Sausage” line has gained a loyal following. Their Brat Original and Hot Italian flavors bring something new to the hot dog scene. Made from a blend of pea protein, fava bean protein, and rice proteins, these sausages are juicy and bold, with the ideal chewiness you expect from a quality hot dog.

Beyond Sausage Brats don’t contain soy, gluten, or GMOs and are kosher. 

5. MorningStar Farms Veggie Dogs

I’m a big fan of Morningstar sausages in general. I usually have a bag of their frozen breakfast sausages (hot and spicy, please!) in my freezer. The fact that our community in The Peas and Carrots group voted for Morningstar Hot Dogs as a fave doesn’t surprise me at all! 

Made with pea protein, these really do have a lot of the texture and flavor of a meat hot dog. 

6. Impossible Foods

Well known for its plant-based burgers, the Impossible brand is also making waves with its Impossible Hot Dogs. True to the company’s innovative approach, these hot dogs aim to provide the taste and texture of traditional sausages with none of the animal products. Made primarily from soy protein concentrate and sunflower oil, they deliver a rich source of protein while staying cholesterol-free.

One of the standout features of Impossible Hot Dogs is the convincing flavor. The blend of natural flavors and seasonings, including onion powder, garlic powder, and yeast extract, creates that familiar savory taste. They also sizzle and brown on the grill just like a regular hot dog, which makes them perfect for summer barbecues or game-day snacks. They offer a juicy, satisfying bite while remaining free from gluten and GMOs.

What Our Peas and Carrots Members Say

Diane Gallant-Marion — Gotta go with something a bit more natural, and not processed. Carrot Dogs!!! Loads of recipes out there, but I go with Brand New Vegan’s Carrot Dog. Make it so easily in the Instant Pot!

Chantal B. — In Quebec Canada we have a Montreal-based company, Gusta food. And they make the BEST sausages ever. They taste really good even my very carnivore partner loves them. I don’t know if it’s only here or if it’s imported anywhere but here you can find them in most grocers even at Walmart. I did some looking and it does appear they are only in Canada and up North.

Cooking and Serving Tips for Veggie Hot Dogs

Here are some handy tips to help you get the best out of your plant-based sausages:

Cooking Tips:

  1. Grill with care  Veggie hot dogs can be grilled just like their meat counterparts. Preheat your grill to medium heat, then lightly brush the dogs with oil to prevent sticking. Grill for 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally until they’re evenly browned and have nice grill marks.
  2. Stovetop sizzle  For a quick indoor meal, use a non-stick skillet. Add a small amount of oil or cooking spray and cook over medium heat, turning the dogs regularly until they’re browned and heated through. This should take around 5 minutes.
  3. Boiling or steaming  If you prefer a milder flavor, boil or steam your veggie dogs for 2-3 minutes. Boiling softens the texture, while steaming keeps them juicy without losing flavor.
  4. Microwave option  Short on time? You can microwave most brands for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to poke a few holes in the skin to let steam escape and prevent splitting.

Serving Tips:

  1. Classic combo  Stick with the classics and load your bun with mustard, ketchup, and relish. Add onions or sauerkraut for extra tang and crunch.
  2. Gourmet garnishes  Elevate your hot dogs by topping them with caramelized onions, avocado slices, or sautéed mushrooms. Fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley add a bright flavor.
  3. International flavors  Mix things up with global-inspired toppings like kimchi, salsa, tzatziki, or curry ketchup. For a Mexican twist, wrap your dog in a flour or corn tortilla and top with pico de gallo and guacamole.
  4. Pair with sides  Serve veggie hot dogs alongside sweet potato fries, a fresh salad, or a hearty slaw for a well-rounded meal. Add baked beans or corn on the cob for a classic barbecue feel.

With so many cooking methods and creative topping ideas, veggie hot dogs can be customized to suit any flavor craving or event. Whether you keep it simple or dress them up with flair, they’ll be a hit on your table!

Tips for Food Allergy Sufferers

Many vegan sausages contain ingredients like soy or vital wheat gluten, which can be problematic for some. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right vegan hot dogs and enjoy them worry-free:

  1. Read labels carefully  Always check the ingredient list for common allergens like soy, wheat, and nuts. Look for hot dogs labeled “gluten-free” or “soy-free” if you have these specific allergies. Some brands offer detailed allergy information, including cross-contamination warnings.
  2. Prepare homemade vegan hot dogs  Making your own veggie hot dogs at home allows you to control the ingredients completely. Recipes using chickpeas, beans, or quinoa can be easily customized with your preferred spices and flavors while avoiding allergens.
  3. Ask questions when dining out  If you’re eating at a restaurant or buying hot dogs from a food vendor, don’t hesitate to ask about ingredients and preparation methods. Many establishments are becoming more allergy-conscious and can provide detailed information.

With a little research and preparation, you can enjoy tasty plant-based hot dogs even if you have food allergies. Stay informed and enjoy the experience with confidence!

Tips for Making Your Own Best Vegan Hot Dogs

If you’re concerned that many store-bought products are over-processed, why not make your own? Making veggies dogs at home allows you to control the flavors, ingredients, and texture. You can customize your creations to match your taste preferences or dietary needs while adding a creative twist to traditional hot dogs. 

In his book, Cooking with the Gentle Chef: A Formulary of Gourmet Vegan Cuisine, our friend Chef Skye Michael will show you exactly how to create delicious dishes using meat analogs, including his own hot dog recipe.

two vegan hot dogs with mustard, relish, and onions. ridged potato chips on the side
Veggie Dog photo courtesy of Chef Skye Michael Conroy

Note: The dishes in his book are made with soy and/or gluten so if you have allergies, you may want to consider alternatives.

For a creative twist on traditional hot dogs, carrot dogs replicate the look and feel of hot dogs with fewer ingredients. By marinating and cooking the carrots with smoky umami flavor-rich seasonings, you can achieve a surprisingly meaty taste. Check out this Smoky Vegan Carrot Dogs recipe, recommended by Diane in the Peas and Carrots.

Experimenting with these recipes allows you to play with different flavors and textures to create your ideal plant-based hot dog. Grill them up, dress them with your favorite toppings, and savor the unique, homemade taste!

Vegan hot dogs open up a delicious realm of flavors and possibilities, offering healthier, sustainable, and animal-friendly options that don’t compromise taste. Whether you’re grilling up a Tofurky Beer Brat, trying out an Impossible Hot Dog, or crafting homemade veggie sausage, there’s a perfect plant-based hot dog for everyone. 

By choosing these alternatives, you can enjoy the familiar taste of a backyard barbecue while staying true to your values. Fire up the grill, grab your favorite toppings, and celebrate the tasty joy of the best vegan hot dogs!

Vegan Hot Dog FAQs

Are vegan hot dogs healthier than regular hot dogs?

Vegan hot dogs are often healthier than traditional hot dogs because they typically contain less saturated fat and no cholesterol. They’re also fortified with essential vitamins and minerals like B12 and iron. However, it’s always a good idea to check the nutrition labels, as some brands may contain added sugars or higher sodium levels.

Are vegan hot dogs more expensive than meat hot dogs?

Vegan hot dogs and many fake meat products can sometimes be more expensive than traditional meat hot dogs, largely because of the quality ingredients used and the specialized production processes. However, this price difference is narrowing as plant-based foods become more popular and production scales up. While individual prices may vary based on brand and location, investing in vegan hot dogs doesn’t have to significantly increase your grocery expenses, especially considering the health and environmental benefits they offer. Plus, some budget-friendly options and store brands provide great taste at a lower price, helping you enjoy plant-based options without breaking the bank.

What do vegan hot dogs taste Like? Do they taste like real meat hot dogs? 

Many vegan hot dogs are crafted to mimic the taste and texture of traditional hot dogs. They use a blend of plant-based proteins, seasonings, and flavorings to replicate the smoky, savory flavor, so the experience is similar. While the taste isn’t exactly the same as meat-based hot dogs, they come close and offer a satisfying alternative.

How are vegan alternatives made to mimic the taste of meat?

Vegan hot dogs often use a mix of plant-based proteins (such as soy, pea, or wheat) for texture and then add seasonings like smoked paprika, garlic, and onion powder to replicate the smoky flavor of traditional hot dogs. Natural flavors and binding agents help achieve the same chewiness and snap as meat-based sausages.

Looking for more fun outdoor summer foods? Check out this Pinterest board.

Also mentioned in this episode:

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