( Healthline) – From baseball games to backyard barbecues, hot dogs are a classic summertime menu item.
Their savory flavor and endless topping options are sure to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Plus, they’re convenient, affordable, and easy to prepare.
Whether you’re a regular hot dog eater or save them for special occasions, you may wonder just how many calories they provide.
This article explores the calorie content of hot dogs, including extra calories from the bun and your favorite condiments.
A brief history
Hot dogs — also known as frankfurters or franks — are a type of sausage that originated in Frankfurt, Germany during the 13th century. They were later popularized as street food in New York City in the 1800s.
Today, hot dogs are often considered quintessentially American despite their German heritage.
Originally, hot dogs were made entirely of pork, but most modern versions contain a combination of pork and beef. To lower the price point, chicken and turkey may also be included.
That said, some brands still make all-pork and even all-beef versions.
Hot dogs are traditionally served in a partially sliced bun and eaten plain or topped with condiments like mustard, ketchup, pickle relish, and sauerkraut.
Traditionally, hot dogs were made exclusively of pork. Nowadays, they usually include pork and beef and occasionally chicken and turkey. They’re typically served in a bun and topped with condiments.
Total calorie content varies
A standard-sized hot dog provides roughly 150 calories, but the exact number varies considerably depending on the size of the sausage, brand, and whether other ingredients are added.
Below are the calorie contents of some popular brands of classic style hot dogs (1, 2, 3, 4, 5):
- Ball Park (49 grams): 160 calories
- Hebrew National (49 grams): 150 calories
- Hillshire Farm (76 grams): 240 calories
- Nathan’s Famous (47 grams): 150 calories
- Oscar Mayer (45 grams): 148 calories
Most brands have multiple varieties to choose from with varying calorie contents.
Higher calorie versions, such as extra-long or jumbo-sized hot dogs, or those that contain high calorie additions like cheese or bacon can provide up to 300 calories each. On the other hand, some low fat or fat-free varieties can contain as little as 100 calories.
If you eat your hot dog with a bun, add 100–150 calories to the total calorie content (6, 7).
An average hot dog provides about 150 calories, but this varies by variety. Low fat or fat-free varieties offer as little as 100 calories, while larger varieties or those with added ingredients contain many more.
Condiments and toppings add extra calories
Many people enjoy hot dogs without toppings, but if you like to pile on the extras, make sure to consider them in your total calorie count.
This can be tricky, as topping options are virtually limitless.
The two most popular hot dog condiments are mustard and ketchup, each providing roughly 10–20 calories per tablespoon (16 grams) (8, 9).
Other common additions include sweet pickle relish, which provides 20 calories per tablespoon (15 grams) and sauerkraut, which has just 3 calories in the same serving size (10, 11).
Higher calorie toppings include chili, cheese, bacon, coleslaw, gravy, fried onions, and french fries — all of which can add up to 300 extra calories each depending on the portion size (12, 13, 14).
Depending on the toppings you choose, you can add 10–300 extra calories to a standard hot dog, not including the bun, which is generally 100–150 calories.
Should you eat hot dogs?
Hot dogs are a delicious, nostalgic tradition for many people, but they are not the most nutritious choice.
They’re highly processed and typically contain large quantities of saturated fat and sodium — nutrients many people need to limit.
Additionally, many varieties are made from poor-quality meat and animal byproducts and contain lots of preservatives, additives, and artificial flavorings and colorings (15Trusted Source).
The foods that usually accompany hot dogs — like the bun and condiments — are often heavily processed, too.
A bulk of research suggests that diets high in ultra-processed foods like hot dogs may increase your risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and certain types of cancer (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
You can make your meal a little healthier by choosing a hot dog made with higher quality meat and opting for more nutritious accompaniments, such as a whole grain bun.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in an occasional hot dog if you enjoy it.
Just remember to build the foundation of your diet on whole, minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds.
Hot dogs are highly processed and often made from poor-quality meat. They’re also high in sodium and usually contain many preservatives and additives. Practice moderation when adding hot dogs to your diet.
The bottom line
Originally from Germany, hot dogs are a type of sausage dating back hundreds of years.
They became popular in the United States in the 1800s and remain a summertime tradition today.
The number of calories in hot dogs varies depending on the serving size and toppings. That said, a typical hot dog with a bun, mustard, and ketchup packs close to 250–300 calories.
While hot dogs are tasty, they are heavily processed and not the most nutritious food choice. If you enjoy them, practice moderation and don’t forget to include plenty of whole foods in your diet the majority of the time.