Kristen Hicks on April 21, 2017 1 Comment Table of Contents Types of Hot Dog Cookers Factors to Consider While Shopping Customer Reviews of Popular Brands Hot dogs are associated with so many of the activities people in this country most love – backyard BBQs, sports games, and state fairs, to name a few. For many people, a hot dog is consistently satisfying and seeing one available at your restaurant, concession stand, or convenience store will make them a happy customer. But you want the hot dogs you sell to follow through on the promise. You want them to look good to customers and taste just as good once they dig in. To pull that off, you need hot dog equipment that’s capable of both cooking delicious hot dogs and displaying them so they look as tasty as people expect them to be once the craving hits. To help you identify the best commercial hot dog cooking equipment for your needs, our buyer’s guide will walk you through the main issues to consider Types of Hot Dog Equipment There are three main types of equipment you can choose from to cook hot dogs, as well as a number of accessories you should likely consider (more on those later). In choosing your main piece of equipment to cook hot dogs, you must first figure out which of these three types is likely to work best for your specific purposes. Hot Dog Steamer Hot dog steamers are easy to use and cook hot dogs fast. They can cook a lot of wieners at once, usually somewhere in the range of 130-230, making them a good choice for high-capacity commercial venues, like the concession stand at a football stadium, for instance. They produce a plump, juicy type of hot dog that many people love, especially in particular regions of the country where steamed hot dogs reign (like Boston and Chicago). Hot dog steamers often come with a compartment for buns, which warms them at the same time as it cooks the hot dogs, so you won’t need to buy a separate bun warmer. These tend to be more affordable than the other types of cooking equipment on our list, so if you want to be able to cook and prepare a lot of hot dogs easily without making too big of an investment, these will be a smart choice. In Summary: Affordable. Cook a lot of hot dogs at once. Cook hot dogs fast. Easy to use. Make plump, juicy hot dogs popular with many consumers. Hot Dog Roller Grill Hot dog rollers are a common choice at convenience stores and concession stands where the ability to entice consumers by letting them see the hot dogs as they cook can be an important component to increasing sales. They don’t offer as high a capacity as hot dog steamers, usually cooking somewhere in the range of 10-75 hot dogs at once. They cook hot dogs so that they’re browned from the grill and crispy, and they’re designed to heat evenly throughout. They can be set up to be self-serve, which is the convenient and popular option for convenience stores and cafeterias, in particular. They can also be used for a few other types of food, including taquitos and egg rolls, so they can be more multi-purpose than the other types of equipment on the list. You do want to make sure you use a sneeze guard with these, for sanitary purposes. In Summary: Cook hot dogs that are crispy and browned. Cost more than hot dog steamers. Can cook anywhere from 10-75 hot dogs at a time. Are good for convenience stores and cafeterias that want to offer self-serve hot dogs. Can be multi-purpose – also work for foods like taquitos and egg rolls. Hot Dog Broiler Hot dog broilers work like a rotisserie, spinning the wieners so they’re evenly cooked. It is not uncommon for this type of cooking equipment to double as a merchandiser. Designed to display the contents inside, these cookers will often provide customers a good look at the hot dogs cooking inside, all in hopes to entice them to buy one. Broilers generally have a smaller capacity than the other types of hot dog cookers described here, usually somewhere in the range of 18 to 36 hot dogs at once. This smaller size makes them ideal for smaller convenience stores and concession stands. This type of hot dog cooker will vary in price. However, they will all generally cost more for the capacity they offer than the other types of equipment listed here. Unfortunately, they are also a bit harder to clean. In Summary: Cooks evenly. Provide an attractive display to entice customers. Lower capacity than others. Harder to clean than other options. Factors to Consider When Buying A Hot Dog Cooker To hone in on which hot dog cooker will be the best fit for you, there are a number of factors you should consider during your search. Size Whether your hot dog cookers are going in a convenience store, restaurant, café or concession stand, the appliance you buy is going to have to fit in the space. Before you start your search, consider exactly where your cooking equipment will be located and measure the area you’ll be putting it in so you know what dimensions you have to work with. Most customers are going to be that much happier with a hot dog if they also get a warm bun, so you should consider if your hot dog cooker comes with a bun warmer included or if you’ll be wanting to buy a separate one. If so, you will need to account for the additional space this device will need. Capacity Capacity should be one of your top concerns in buying a hot dog cooker. Even though many of the commercial devices are designed to cook hot dogs fast, you still want to make sure you have enough on hand and ready to serve. At a convenience store, demand at any moment may not be all that high, but at a busy concession stand you’ll want to be as prepared as possible for a lot of orders to come in at once. Cooking equipment for hot dogs are generally, and smartly so, designed to fit a lot of wieners for the amount of space they take up. That means you can probably get a high-capacity machine, even if your space is fairly limited. Cost Hot dog cookers can cost anywhere from around $200 for a steamer from a low-end brand to over $2,000 for a high-quality, high-capacity roller grill. The best price for the quantity of dogs you can cook at once will generally be for a steamer, followed by a roller grill and then a broiler. One of the factors other than type that affects the cost of hot dog cookers is the capacity – the difference in cost between a 10-capacity roller grill and a 75-capacity one is pretty significant. And as you’d expect, brand reputation plays a role in price as well. A brand that’s known for consistently making high-quality commercial products will reasonably charge more for their hot dog cooking equipment than a brand that is a little more unknown. Display Oftentimes, a customer won’t realize they want a hot dog until they see a delectable-looking one cooking. For that reason, cookers that double as a merchandiser and provides an attractive display for your hot dogs can be a boon to profits. All three of the types of hot dog cookers we described tend to be good for providing a tasty display, so in your final decision, it’s simply a matter of which you like the look of. Speed of Cooking When you run out of hot dogs and have to make your customers wait while you cook more, nobody’s happy. It’s more work for you (or your employees) and wasted time for them. High-capacity hot dog cookers can help reduce the need for a wait, but when you’re getting the hot dog machine set up in the morning and when it comes time to re-stock, it’s still useful to know your machine will make hot dogs fast. Hot dog steamers can cook a large number of wieners in a relatively short amount of time (for the quantity), up to 230 hot dogs in 45 minutes or so. Hot dog roller grills work even faster, cooking hot dogs within about 10 minutes. And hot dog broilers typically take somewhere in the range of 15-20 minutes. Ease of Use Any type of cooking equipment that makes you or your staff do more work will make the job more difficult, and potentially leave your customers waiting longer when they want a hot dog (or walking out without making a purchase to avoid the wait). Hot dog steamers are nice for doing a lot of cooking without requiring all that much work or maintenance, and roller grills are especially easy to use – just load them up and turn the machine on. Going for cooking equipment that includes a bun warmer can simplify things as well, since there’s one less machine to maintain (although separate bun warmers often offer a higher capacity, so they can cause less work in situations where orders come in fast). The biggest piece of work in using hot dog cooking equipment will typically be cleaning. For the safety of customers and your bottom-line, you have to keep any appliance that touches food properly clean and sanitized between uses. Broilers offer some difficulty in cleaning, and steamers are usually the easiest (simply dumping the water and wiping the machine down should do the trick). Roller grills fall somewhere in the middle in terms of ease of cleaning. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for any hot dog cooker you are considering to get a feel for how much work using, cleaning, and maintaining the machine will be. You could save yourself, and your employees, a lot of trouble by choosing the right piece of equipment that’s relatively easy to work with. Features and Accessories: Digital Temperature Display — You want to be sure your hot dogs are cooking at the right temperature. A digital temperature display makes it easy to be confident your cooking equipment is working as it should be and your hot dogs will come out just right. Non-Stick Coating — Non-stick coating will make clean up much easier. Sneeze Guard — Some hot dog rollers will come with sneeze guards. If not, you should plan on purchasing one separately for sanitation. This is especially true for self-serve equipment. Bun Warmers — A lot of hot dog cooking options come with a bun warmer included. For those that don’t, or if you want a supplementary one that holds more, you can buy a bun warmer separately. Condiment Dispenser — No hot dog meal is complete without your favorite condiments. Make sure you buy a condiment dispenser so that your customers can eat their hot dogs just as they like them. Kitchen Tongs — When it comes time to pull a hot dog out of the machine, you need something to get it with. Basic kitchen tongs should do the trick and do the double duty of keeping things sanitary while protecting your hands from the heat. Popular Hot Dog Equipment Brands Like all appliances, especially those within a commercial kitchen, you want a device that you can count on for years to come. As with any type of commercial food equipment, one of the best ways to ensure you end up with a reliable product is by considering brand reputation. To help give you a summary of how the main brands in the hot dog cooker space are seen in the industry, we scoured the customer reviews. Here’s what people have to say about each. Avantco Avantco makes hot dog steamers and roller grills that mostly get positive reviews from customers, but some models fare worse in reviews than others. Happy customers say their hot dog equipment works well, the hot dogs they make with it taste good, and that it’s reasonably priced. Others complain their products don’t last, that they don’t get hot enough, or that they leak water. If you’re considering an Avantco machine, take a minute to check the reviews for the particular product you have your eye on. Benchmark USA Benchmark’s hot dog equipment earns mixed reviews from customers. Some complain about having problems with parts breaking soon after purchase or working too slowly to be useful. Others say they work great, even for high-volume use. With such a mixed reputation, you may be satisfied if you go with them, or you may be like the reviewers that have issues. Best Choice Products Best Choice sells roller grill cookers that earn strong reviews from customers. Customers say their hot dog equipment is easy to use and clean, works great, and the hot dogs come out tasting good. The majority of customers are happy and say the product they bought does its job. Nemco Nemco makes a wide range of hot dog roller grills, steamers, and bun warmers that customers are consistently happy with. Reviewers say their equipment is a great value, easy to use, and easy to clean. Their reputation for hot dog equipment is solid. Star Star’s hot dog steamers and roller grills get positive reviews from customers for making hot dogs that taste great, being easy to use, and helping people sell more hot dogs. All reviews point toward Star’s hot dog equipment being a reliable choice. Conclusion Hot dogs are a familiar part of many moments people love. The hot dogs you sell could help shape good memories for your customers, or simply make for a satisfying meal. Either way, the right hot dog machine will make your customers happy and help you make more money.