Plain or fancy, jazzed with condiments or enhanced with seasonings, nothing fits a bun like a hot dog. Wieners are pretty much heat-and-eat any way you cook them; so doing your hot dog in a toaster oven is a convenient countertop method to prepare succulent dogs that are ready to serve in only a few minutes.
Getting Ready to Cook
Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a metal cooking pan with raised edges – microwaveable plastic isn't suitable for toaster ovens, and glass can break – and line it with aluminum foil to make cleanup easy. With a sharp knife, cut three or four diagonal slits about 1/4 inch deep along one side of each dog. The slits allow steam to escape as the dogs cook so they don't explode.
Cooking the Hot Dog, With Variations
Place the pan of oven-ready hot dogs in the toaster oven. Cook the hot dogs for 3 to 4 minutes, then open the oven and carefully turn the dogs with tongs. Turning the food helps it cook evenly without scorching. Set the timer for 3 to 4 minutes to finish cooking, then remove the pan of hot dogs from the oven once they're done. You can use the preheated oven to toast the buns on the toaster oven rack, if desired.
To make stuffed hot dogs, slit the hot dogs lengthwise, cutting about halfway through. Start cooking with the slit side down, then flip the dogs and fill the slit with thinly sliced cheese strips, finely chopped onions and precooked bacon bits. Cooking juices drain onto the pan as the hot dogs cook, so handle the warm pan carefully or you might end up tipping the hot juices onto your skin and causing a painful burn.
A toaster oven also makes crispy-outside, juicy-inside frozen corn dogs. Preheat the oven, line the oven pan with foil, and place 1 or 2 frozen corn dogs in the toaster oven. To make mini corn dogs, scatter a few on the pan so they are not touching. Frozen corn dogs need time to thaw and heat completely through. Turn them once during cooking, typically about 6 to 8 minutes per side in a 350 F oven for regular-size dogs. Shorten the cooking time for mini corn dogs.
Toaster Oven vs. Other Methods
Oven roasting a hot dog gives it a desirable crisp skin while the interior remains juicy. In contrast, microwaved or boiled hot dogs tend to be rubbery, and they often curl or explode. Because hot dogs are small and they heat quickly, they're also easy to overcook on a grill.
Different brands with varying proportions of fat and fillers can affect the way a hot dog cooks. Shorten the cooking time if the dogs begin to dry out -- wrinkled or curling ends are indicators of dryness.
Specialty Toaster Ovens
Some toaster ovens have been made with built-in hot dog rollers on top. Let the rollers heat the dogs while you prepare the rest of the meal, then toast the buns in the oven just before serving time.
Convection toaster ovens use a fan to circulate hot air inside the oven. This cooks foods more evenly and more quickly at a slightly lower temperature than a traditional toaster oven. Convection cooking also creates a crisp surface on open-roasted foods. It's easy to dry out hot dogs in a convection oven: Cover them with aluminum foil to keep them juicy and tender.