When a TikTok recipe goes viral, we tend to brace ourselves. Will it be something revelatory and actually useful, or will it result in a disgusting dish that’s barely edible? The latest trend falls somewhere in between: Users are fawning over spiral-cut hot dogs, a cooking method that really is delicious, but isn’t anything new.
The Independent reports that ever since food influencer Carolina Gelen shared a tutorial on the hot dog method in early June, the technique has inspired countless others to declare spiral hot dogs “life changing” and “legit.” The viral recipe is only the latest example of a cooking hack that’s been hiding in plain sight for years. Let’s look at the spiral hot dog and what makes it special.
Part of what made this hot dog blow up on TikTok isn’t just that it looks amazing—it’s also a very easy result to achieve using no specialized kitchen equipment or cooking knowledge.
As we at The Takeout explained back in 2019, the spiral cut has several advantages, even aside from how cool it looks. It shortens the cooking time, since the inside is just as exposed to the heat as the outside. It also increases the exposed surface area of the hot dog, allowing all the newly formed edges to crisp up and form delicious textural contrast, not to mention more of that coveted char flavor. Finally, a spiral dog holds condiments perfectly; anything from mustard to salsa can pool in those little grooves and provide pockets of intense flavor. (See also: Kielbasa and garlic butter.)
Spiralizing also comes in handy when you’re deep-frying the hot dogs, because it lends a lot more nooks and crannies into which batter can settle and produce craggy, crispy breading. If your reaction to the previous sentence was, “Wait, why are we talking about deep-frying our hot dogs?” then I have a very, very important recipe for you.
While Carolina Gelen of the inciting TikTok video spears each hot dogs on a skewer before cutting them, you don’t actually need to. Simply start the blade of a knife at a 45-degree angle from one end of a hot dog, then gently slice into it—not all the way!—and start twisting the dog with the hand that isn’t holding the knife. (See step-by-step photos here.) You don’t want to slice clean across the dog, but rather “unzip” it with a cut that only goes partway through. By the end, you’ll be left with a cool corkscrew-looking length of meat, and once you’ve prepared it as desired, you’ll kick yourself for never having thought of it before.
There are, of course, companies that have tried to capitalize on the trend by selling tools like this to get the job done, and while those might be useful for fibrous vegetables or other items you wish to spiralize, it’s really unnecessary for something as soft and smooth as a hot dog. Any small paring knife will do. And this isn’t even the only shape you can try—Jacques Pepin’s tutorial on the “curly dog” is even easier to follow.
So go forth this summer and spiral-cut those dogs to impress all your backyard barbecue guests (heck, spiralize every food you can think of). Follow our advice and you won’t even have to admit that TikTok gave you the idea.