Hotdogs are a popular food, especially in the United States. But how many hotdogs should you eat in a year? The answer depends on a variety of factors.
How many hotdogs do Americans eat per year?
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans eat an estimated 20 billion hot dogs per year. With a U.S. population of around 330 million, that works out to about 60 hot dogs per person per year.
However, hot dog consumption varies greatly by region. Here is the estimated number of hot dogs eaten per capita in different parts of the U.S. annually:
- Northeast: 74 hot dogs
- Midwest: 70 hot dogs
- South: 63 hot dogs
- West: 32 hot dogs
So if you live on the West Coast, you’re eating less than half as many hot dogs as people living in the Northeast.
Are 60 hotdogs per year too many?
Eating 60 hot dogs in a year may sound like a lot. But eating 1 hot dog per week would put you in line with average consumption.
However, experts caution that eating too many hot dogs can be unhealthy. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting processed meats like hot dogs to no more than 18 ounces per week. That’s equivalent to about 4-5 hot dogs.
Why limit hot dog intake? Two main reasons:
- Hot dogs tend to be high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure.
- Processed meats like hot dogs have been linked to increased cancer risk.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 200 mg of sodium per hot dog. To stay under this limit, choose low-sodium hot dogs whenever possible.
Healthier ways to enjoy hot dogs
You don’t need to fully eliminate hot dogs and other processed meats from your diet. But you can make healthier choices when you do indulge.
- Choose turkey or chicken hot dogs instead of beef or pork.
- Opt for hot dog alternatives like soy dogs or veggie dogs.
- Load up your hot dog with lots of veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.
- Skip fatty condiments like mayo and instead use mustard, ketchup, or relish.
- Eat your hot dog on a whole grain bun or skip the bun entirely.
Following basic moderation and getting creative with toppings are simple ways to balance your love of hot dogs with eating well.
How many hot dogs can you safely eat per day?
There’s no single scientifically-proven number for how many hotdogs you can safely eat per day. However, some general guidelines suggest limiting it to:
- 1 hot dog per day for optimal cancer prevention
- 2 hot dogs per day to limit sodium
- 4-5 hot dogs per week to meet American Institute for Cancer Research guidelines
Also, listen to your body. If you feel sluggish or sick after eating hot dogs, your personal tolerance may be lower than these numbers.
Should you eat hot dogs every day?
No, you should not plan to eat hot dogs, or any processed meat, daily.
- Increases cancer risk – Daily consumption triples the risk of colorectal cancer, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
- Raises sodium intake – Most hot dogs are high in sodium. Eating them too frequently increases sodium intake, putting you at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Stick to 200 mg or less per hot dog.
- Provides little nutritional value – Hot dogs are high in fat, sodium and preservatives. They offer little fiber, vitamins or minerals.
- Leads to unhealthy habits – Daily hot dogs often go hand-in-hand with other poor diet choices like sugary drinks, chips, etc.
For optimal health, processed meats like hot dogs should be an occasional indulgence in a balanced, produce-focused diet. Adults should aim for no more than 1-2 servings per week.
What are the healthiest hot dogs?
If you do enjoy an occasional hot dog, choosing the healthiest option can minimize the downsides.
Here are some of the healthiest hot dog varieties:
|Hot Dog||Size||Calories||Fat (g)||Sodium (mg)|
|Applegate Naturals Beef Hot Dog||1 link (4 oz)||90||5||480|
|Oscar Mayer Turkey Franks||1 link (4.5 oz)||70||2||280|
|365 Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs||1 link (4 oz)||110||9||350|
Key things that make these hot dogs healthier options:
- Lower sodium content (aim for under 500 mg per hot dog)
- Made from turkey or organic beef
- Free of chemical preservatives like nitrites or nitrates
- Uncured varieties use nitrate-free preservatives like celery juice
Vegetarian hot dog alternatives like tofu or soy-based dogs also provide a good source of plant protein without the downsides of processed meat.
Do hot dogs expire?
Yes, hot dogs do eventually expire and can go bad. An unopened package of hot dogs can last 2 weeks beyond any “sell by” date. After opening, refrigerate hot dogs no longer than 7 days before consumption.
Signs your hot dogs have expired include:
- Slimy texture
- Greyish color
- Unpleasant or sour smell
- Moldy spots
Cooking or eating expired hot dogs can potentially lead to foodborne illness. Always verify the expiration or use by date before consuming hot dogs.
Can hot dogs be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze unopened packages of hot dogs to extend their shelf life. Frozen, unopened hot dogs last 1-2 months in the freezer.
You can also freeze hot dogs after opening the package. To freeze individual hot dogs:
- Separate into desired portion sizes.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, foil or freezer bags.
- Freeze for up to 1-2 months.
Thaw frozen hot dogs before grilling, pan frying, boiling or using in recipes. Do not refreeze raw hot dogs after thawing.
How long do hot dogs last once cooked?
Cooked hot dogs that have been opened will last 3-4 days refrigerated. Sealed, unopened packages of cooked hot dogs can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.
For maximum food safety and quality, follow these hot dog storage guidelines:
- Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
- Store in a sealed container to prevent drying out.
- Use within 3-5 days for peak flavor and texture.
- Discard if you see signs of spoilage like sliminess or mold.
You can also freeze cooked hot dogs for longer storage. Wrap tightly in freezer bags or plastic wrap. Frozen hot dogs maintain quality for 1-2 months.
Are hot dogs already cooked?
Most hot dogs, including many major brands, arrive at the store already fully cooked. You can eat them straight from the package without additional preparation.
Being pre-cooked is what allows hot dogs to be quickly heated up on the grill, pan or in the microwave. However, you’ll still need to reheat pre-cooked hot dogs to an internal temperature of at least 165°F before consumption.
Some specialty or gourmet sausage varieties may be only partially cooked when purchased raw. Check the packaging closely for terms like:
- “Cook before eating”
- “Cook thoroughly”
These types of sausages require stove, oven or grill cooking to 165°F internally before they can be safely eaten.
Hot dogs are an iconic American food, but how many you eat should be limited for good health. While U.S. adults eat an average 60 hot dogs annually, cutting back to 1-2 per week is a safer bet for cancer and heart disease prevention.
Choosing lower sodium options, skipping fatty toppings, and balancing out your diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables are simple ways to healthfully incorporate the occasional hot dog.