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Cooking hot dogs for a crowd

Will someone please let me know a good way to cook hot dogs for 75-100 people, keeping them hot without boiling in water?

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  1. I used a grill! Did a big BBQ at a park. Used their grill. No problem. If you don't have that available, well... oven, stove, BBQ or fire pit?? Then, I would go to a place like Smart and Final which sells portable/disposable hot servers - the kind for buffets that have a sterno you light at the bottom of the server. This will keep them hot.

    1. Cook: anyway you want or can, including boiling.

      Keep warm: KQ is right, some kind of sterno heated server (unless you want to go third world with a glass box and a light bulb!).

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Sam, you will find Sterno in the "third world" far more readily than you will find electric powere and remote light sockets.

        1. re: FrankJBN

          Took you a year to come up with that reply? Actually, I've never found sterno in years in Asia and years in Colombia. Course, I haven't really looked. The glass box and lightbulb set up is ubiquitous, however.

      2. Do you think grilling on a B-B-Q grill and then keeping warm in crock pots would work?

        6 Replies
        1. re: sdurand

          Crock pot would probably work but, have you one big enuf to store enuf dogs for 100 people? I like the sterno servers 'cuz it's easy access. Crock pots are good for one or two people at a time. Unless of course you have several to use. If so, you might want to put a bit o' H20 at the bottom. This will create a little steam and keep the dog ends from burning and rubbering up. Remember that dogs are almost cooked anyway. They don't need much! :)KQ

          1. re: sdurand

            Very cool idea! Thinking outside of the box. Have you tried it? If not, I will. Thank you.

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I like your idea of the glass box and light bulb!....Now, that's thinking outside the box. Reminds me of how our resident boa liked to live. Her name was Cassandra! And, no she didn't like hot dogs. Little white mice were her preferred meal.

            2. re: sdurand

              If your primary concern is food safety, sure. Food quality, not so much - being in a closed, warm environment is not great for keeping the nice surface char you get on the barbecue. If you were just heating the dogs in some kind of sticky sauce it would work better. (And if we had a few more details on the kitchen setup at the event, it would be easier to help - do you have a grill available at the site, or a stove?)

              1. re: sdurand

                I don't know if it's my crock pot being too hot (even on warm setting) but I tried this and if you leave the hotdogs in for a longer period of time, they plump...a lot. Then when you take them out, they deflate to a shriveled hard hot dog.

                But, if you used water on the bottom, as suggested, and put the hot dogs on a wire mesh above it, I wonder if that would work.

                1. re: chowser

                  Hot dogs with skin on will puff up and crack or shrivel, even turn greenish, if held over 20 minutes, but skinless can be held a long time.

              2. Last time I had to do this, we rented a hot dog machine from a party rental place. Can't remember the cost. Seems to me it was less then $50. But it was really neat. For that many people you'll proably need to plan about 2 per person anyway so that's a lot of wieners. We had a chafing dish to keep the buns warm, small crock pot for chili, and a fixings bar.

                5 Replies
                1. re: MakingSense

                  MS, gee...two per person?? I would think five per.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    I've rented a small hot dog cart from a rental place. It was a mini version of a hot dog street cart painted in bright red and yellow. Instead of "dirty water" it had those roller cooker things and several hot pans for onions, chili, sauerkraut, etc. And they even sold me squeeze bottles to put ketchup and mustard in. I think it was in the same price range about $50 for the day.

                    1. re: JMF

                      Like this? If you live on Long Island, I could lend this one to you, comes in real handy for our annual block party! It's a four part steam table so I kept chili and onions in two of the compartments too. But to my surprise, the hot dogs went so fast you almost didn't need to keep them hot, I could hardly serve them fast enough.

                      1. re: coll

                        @Coll ~ Do you rent hotdog carts? I am looking for one for our VBS this summer at Neighborhood Assembly of God in Bellmore

                        1. re: SMR2003

                          You can rent them from Marathon who are the distributors for Sabrett. Whatever it costs for the day, they throw you some free hot dogs and condiments, and deliver it to the site. When I posted this picture, they used to lend them out to groups for free, but those days are gone. They have table top models and also the big ones like in the city.

                          http://www.sabrett.com/ Here's their website. Email me if you need any help talking to them.

                  2. At our company picnic last year I took my large electric roaster, filled it with hot water about 4 inches, put a disposable foil pan inside with a few holes in the bottom and loaded it up. Steamed them to perfection in no time. Plus, when I turned it down to low, kept them warm without drying out. Easy cleanup too.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: chelleyd01

                      Hi, your idea seems the best for me. I am running an event for Opening Day of baseball and it is inside an office building. How big was your electric roaster? How many hot dogs would fit? Did you worry about the buns or did you go right from the package? Renting the hot dog steamer seems like a neat idea also but I worry about timing. Last year we went through 400 hot dogs. Any advice would be great. We have about 4 of those electric pancake griddles but I don't think hot dogs should be prepared that way.

                      1. re: loukdogg

                        Our picnic was at an outdoor water park in one of the pavillions. I have a big white Hamilton Beach roaster that goes from "low" to 450 degrees. It holds ALOT. The hot dogs went so fast I wasnt interested in jerking around steaming buns and whatnot. People just grabbed them out of the bag. We had a crock pot of spicy chili, onions, relish, ketchup and mustard and hot pickles. I think there were 2 hot dogs left and we had 70 employees plus all of their families.

                        I entertained the hot dog rental nonsense. No thanks. Alot of pick up, set up, cleanup, rental fees, returning immediately blah blah blah. Throw out foil roasting pan. Remove insert and dump water. Swish with hot water and Dawn. Take home. Done.

                      2. re: chelleyd01

                        hello! i love your roaster idea - i need to have a lot of hot dogs for a youth group event... i was wondering - did you put the disposable foil pan right side up where the hot dogs sat in it and the water that came thru the holes, or was it upside down so they sat on top of the foil pan, getting kind of steamed thru the holes?

                        thx so much!

                        1. re: kiramarie

                          While I'm not chelleyd01, I would guess that in order to hold enough hotdogs, the pan would have to be right side up. If you do not wish the water to come up from the bottom, put some kind of rack underneath, or alternatively, if you don't have a rack of the correct size, several butter knives from your kitchen would do the trick.

                          The point I wished to make was for the OP. If one does not wish to have boiled or steamed hotdogs, you could cook them on a grill ahead of time and put them in the foil pan as described above to keep them hot.

                      3. I did the same Idea with stuffed cabbage rolls. and there were plenty and stayed nice
                        and hot. I know the hot dogs will do great in that.

                        1. When I've seen them done for potlucks, they make up the hotdogs, in the buns and then wrap in aluminum foil. They then put them in styrofoam coolers, or similar, w/ those heating pads that you microwave.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chowser

                            One idea that comes in handy for picnics, etc. Boil the wieners and put them in the buns. Put them - with bun - back into the plastic bag the buns came in. The heat from the boiled wieners (in the tied-up plastic bag) actually steams the buns. And then they're perfect for a while.

                            1. re: chowser

                              Thank you so much for this answer! I am hosting a team meal for my son's soccer team & this seems like the easiest way to do it!

                            2. This is great. I see high levels of innovation coming from thinking about keeping simple hot dogs warm. MS and JMF, the dog rental equipment sounds like a lot of fun for all. How did the guests react? chowser, what heating pads (brand, link)?

                              3 Replies
                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Sam, I used the hot dogger in a media center for foreign journalists who always got a major kick out of any American foods I steered them to over the time I worked with them. State fair food, road food, bar snacks, diners, etc. They just loved Americana and the hot dogger was a major hit. I got a popcorn popper too. They were working while they ate so they were grabbing food and writing and filing stories so the whole thing just worked.
                                  We did have to pre-heat the wieners in the micro "backstage" to keep ahead of demand and went through a lot of hot dogs but it was well worth the rental fees. I'd do it again in a minute.
                                  It took the hot dogs from just food to something really special - a little sizzle with the Tube Steaks.

                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                    Chowser, thank you. I'm ordering a couple of packs. MS, that was obviously great fun! I can see the event in my mind.

                                2. Your handle says Illinois so jfood looked through google to rent them and found some interesting sites to perk up the party.


                                  Thos are a few. Type "hot dog machine rental illinois" and see some more

                                  1. I simmer them in beer, and then sear them on a wood-fired or cast iron grill as needed.

                                    1. My French class in high school raised thousands of dollars through hot dog sales, every week. Here is what I learned from that:
                                      - if possible get hot dogs that are not invidually wrapped because it take FOREVER to peel 10 - 15 dozen dogs
                                      - if you have to get the individually wrapped ones, put them in the freezer for a while and it will make unwrapping way easier -- the dog contracts more than the wrapping
                                      - you will get asked what is in the dog -- beef, pork.??? People seem obsessed about this. Personally I like how an all beef dog stands up to the abuse of large scale cooking.
                                      - if you are providing veggies dogs or non-pork or non-beef, some folks want to know that you have cooked and kept them separately. This is where your crock pots can come in handy. Do a crock pot for the veggies and if necessary another for other alternative choices
                                      - cooking method of choice - grills because they are the fastest. But if not grills then water, which is easier to clean up.
                                      - have your condiment station a fair amount of space away from the where folks get their dogs because condiment hogs can really slow down your line. Also get the big pump bottles of condiments from Costco -- way faster than squeeze bottles and you won't run out.
                                      - make sure the buns are pre-sliced, and the ones with slice going vertically through the buns are way easier to handle and folks seem to lose fewer dogs from them.
                                      - unless you are serving salads, large napkins work as well as plates

                                      1. There's nothing worse than ruining a beautifully grilled and charred dog with steam. Charcoal's cheap and it's not difficult to cook them to order. I'd assume there'd be the big "come and get it" rush, then a few could be held off to the side of the heat for the late-comers and second/thirder-ers. Out of 75-100 people, I'd imagine there's be more-than-plenty "master grillers" who would step up to the job!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                          The problem in my case is that we are having a pot luck at work on July 3rd. We are under a lot of pressure at the moment because we are gearing up for a ton of work this coming month, and having a day off in the middle of the week doesn't help. None of us can afford the time to grill up hot dogs. I still want that charred flavor on my dogs, but once I steam them in the roaster pan, I don't want them to over cook. I'm thinking of just skipping the grilling part and putting them in the roaster pan.

                                          1. re: SkitzoidLady

                                            If you don't keep water in the pan, they will not steam.

                                        2. On the outside chance that anyone would eat 5 year old hot dogs, how about floating a 1 gallon zip lock bag full of hot dogs in hot water? ;-) . Would anyone like a 5 year old sous-vide hot dog?