Is hot dog High in carbs?

Hot dogs are a popular food, especially in the summer months. But many people wonder – are hot dogs high in carbs? The quick answer is that a typical hot dog contains about 13 grams of carbs. While this is not extremely high, it’s also not low-carb. Hot dogs get a moderate amount of their calories from carbohydrates.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the carb content of different types of hot dogs, factors that affect the carbs in hot dogs, and how hot dogs fit into a low-carb or ketogenic diet. We’ll also compare hot dogs to some other popular summer foods on the carb spectrum. Read on to learn more about the carb content of America’s favorite cooked sausage!

Carb Content of Different Hot Dog Types

Not all hot dogs are created equal when it comes to carbs. Here is the carb content of some popular hot dog varieties:

Hot Dog Type Grams of Carbs
Beef hot dog 5-8g
Turkey hot dog 9-12g
Chicken hot dog 2-13g
Vegan hot dog 8-15g

As you can see, carb content can range quite a bit depending on the type of hot dog. Beef hot dogs tend to be on the lower end, while vegan and turkey hot dogs have more carbs.

Chicken or turkey hot dogs are often seen as healthier options. But the irony is they can sometimes be higher in carbs than beef hot dogs, depending on the brand.

Beef Hot Dogs

Classic all-beef hot dogs have very few carbs, coming mostly from spices and seasonings used to flavor the meat. A typical beef hot dog has about 5-8 grams of carbs.

So if you’re looking for a lower carb hot dog option, beef is the way to go. Just be sure to check labels, as some specialty beef hot dogs add extra ingredients that increase the carbs.

Turkey Hot Dogs

Turkey hot dogs often contain 9-12 grams of carbs. More of the carb content comes directly from the turkey meat rather than seasonings.

Turkey also has less fat than beef, so manufacturers often add more binders and fillers to produce a juicy turkey hot dog. These extra ingredients can mean more carbs.

Chicken Hot Dogs

Chicken hot dogs are a wildcard when it comes to carbs. Some brands are as low as 2 grams of carbs, while others soar up to 13 grams.

Like turkey dogs, chicken hot dogs need more binders and fillers to give them a meaty texture. The varying ingredients used leads to the wide carb range.

Vegan Hot Dogs

Vegan hot dogs use plant-based proteins like soy, legumes, vegetables, or mushrooms instead of animal meat. Due to this different makeup, vegan dogs tend to be higher in carbs with 8-15 grams per link.

Ingredients like vital wheat gluten are often used to mimic the chewy texture of meat. But this wheat addition means more carbs.

If you’re on a stricter keto or low-carb diet, vegan hot dogs are likely too high in carbs. But they can fit into a more moderate low-carb plan.

Factors Affecting Hot Dog Carbs

A few key factors impact the carbohydrate content of hot dogs:

1. Fillers

Some hot dog brands use fillers like soybean or wheat flour to add texture. Since these are plant-based carbs, they increase the total carbs per serving. Checking the ingredients label can help identify if fillers are used.

2. Curing Process

Traditional curing uses sugar, which adds about 1-2 grams of carbs to a hot dog. Newer sweeteners like honey or maple syrup are also sometimes used in “uncured” hot dogs. These sweeteners still count as carbs.

3. Bun vs. No Bun

Going bun-less saves you about 10-15 grams of carbs for a standard bread bun. Serving your hot dog wrapped in lettuce instead can help reduce overall carb intake.

4. Size

Jumbo hot dogs can have nearly double the carbs of a regular sized link. Check the nutrition info to compare carb counts for different sized dogs.

5. Condiments

Toppings like ketchup, relish, and other sugary sauces can add 5-10 grams of carbs to your hot dog. Opting for lower carb toppings like mustard or sauerkraut will reduce the carb content of your overall meal.

Hot Dogs on a Low-Carb Diet

Here is how hot dogs may fit into low-carb, ketogenic, and other carb conscious diets:

Ketogenic Diet

Most hot dogs contain too many carbs to fit into a strict keto diet aiming for under 20-30 grams of net carbs per day. Even beef hot dogs have 5-8 grams of carbs, so a few dogs could max out your daily limit.

Going bun-less with low-carb condiments is your best bet for staying keto. Look for hot dogs under 2-3 grams of carbs to better fit your macros.

Low-Carb Diet

On a more moderate low-carb diet of around 50-100 grams daily, you can likely enjoy hot dogs in moderation along with bunless serving options. Just account for their carb count as part of your daily totals.

Paleo Diet

Most pork and beef hot dogs align with the Paleo Diet guidelines, avoiding modern processed ingredients. But you’ll want to verify the brand you buy fits the diet recommendations.

Vegetarian/Vegan Diets

Veggie hot dog options can range higher in carbs but fit nicely into a vegetarian or vegan meal plan. Pair with a whole grain bun or low glycemic vegetables as sides for balanced nutrition.

Comparing Hot Dogs to Other Summer Foods

Looking at other popular summer bbq foods, hot dogs fall somewhere in the middle on the carb spectrum:

Summer Food Grams of Carbs
Hamburger bun 15-20g
Bratwurst 5-7g
Pork spare ribs 0-5g
Corn on the cob 25-30g
Potato salad 35-40g
Fruit salad 60-80g

Compared to buns, sides, and desserts at a bbq, hot dogs start looking pretty reasonable carb wise! By swapping a hot dog for higher carb options, you can enjoy food you love while still watching your intake.

Condiment Carb Counts

Don’t forget condiments in your hot dog carb tally! Here are the carb counts for popular hot dog toppings:

Condiment Carbs/Tablespoon
Ketchup 4g
Yellow mustard 0g
Relish 1-3g
Sauerkraut 1g
Chili Around 5g
Cheese Around 1g

As you can see, condiment choices make a difference in the total carbohydrate intake from your hot dog. Ketchup, relish, and chili add more carbs, while mustard, sauerkraut, and cheese add minimal carbs.

Healthiest Hot Dog Options

If you want to indulge in hot dogs but still aim for better nutrition, here are some of the healthiest choices:

– Turkey or chicken dogs – Less fat than beef dogs

– Uncured hot dogs – No artificial preservatives

– Grass-fed beef or uncured pork dogs – Higher in antioxidants

– Protein-packed veggie dogs – Can be made from soy/gluten/legumes

– Mini sizes – Portion control for fewer calories

– Mustard toppings – Low calorie and low carb

– Sauerkraut – Provides probiotics for gut health

– Part-skim mozzarella – More vitamins than full-fat cheese

– Spiral cut dogs – More surface area gets crispy when you cook it

– Baked instead of boiled – Reduces fat and calories

Health Risks of Hot Dogs

Though they taste great at a summer bbq, hot dogs aren’t the healthiest choice:

– High in sodium – Can raise blood pressure

– Nitrates used in curing – Linked to some cancers

– High in saturated fat and cholesterol – Risk for heart disease

– Processed meats associated with diseases – According to WHO

– Can contain preservatives like nitrites – Headaches, migraines

– Mostly empty calories – Very little nutritional value

– High fat and sodium content – Risk of obesity

To reduce health risks, choose low sodium uncured hot dogs in moderation along with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables at your bbq or cookout.


When prepared traditionally, hot dogs contain a moderate amount of carbs, around 5-15 grams depending on type. Beef hot dogs tend to be lowest, while vegan dogs are highest. Enjoying hot dogs without a bun reduces carbs by 10-15 grams.

On keto diets with about 20-30 grams of carbs daily, most hot dogs may need to be avoided unless the carbs fit into your macros. But on less strict low-carb diets of 50-100 grams carbs or more per day, you can likely still enjoy hot dogs in moderation along with low-carb preparation and toppings.

Just like any food, hot dogs are best consumed in moderation alongside a balanced diet, especially due to their high sodium and fat content. Choosing lower carb options like mustard instead of ketchup and forgoing the bun can help reduce carbs. And swapping a hot dog instead of even higher carb bbq sides can let you have your hot dog and eat it too!

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