Can you eat cold hot dogs?

Hot dogs, sausages, and frankfurters are such popular food, and even offer up a quick snack when eaten cold out of the fridge. However, as popular as hot dogs are, is it safe to eat them cold?

The answer to this is somewhat varied. There are so many different types of sausages out there, with some being fully cooked already, and others needing a warm-up before consumption.

Some hot dogs are safe to eat cold, while others are not. Here is everything you need to know on whether or not eating hot dogs cold is okay!

Check The Label

The best way to know more about your hot dog or sausage is to check the label of the packaging they are sold in. If the hot dogs are fully-cooked when sold, they are fine to eat cold.

The labeling will also give you good information for other factors – such as safe handling, the cooking instructions, and the ingredients and nutrient contents. Most handling requires the hot dogs to be kept cold in the fridge, even if the sausages are fully cooked, partially cooked, or raw.

If the labeling says the hot dogs or sausages are partially cooked or raw, you should avoid eating them cold. They might contain bacteria and other nasties that could cause food poisoning and other illnesses. These should always be cooked before consumption and be eaten straight away.


Listeria is one of the main concerns when eating hot dogs. It is a bacterium that lives in soil, dust, animal waste, water, and many other substances. If a person eats food with traces of listeria, they can become sick and experience food poisoning.

Healthy people who come into contact with listeria will feel sick for a few days, but for others, the infection can be serious and even life-threatening, especially to pregnant women, babies, and the elderly.

Listeria can grow at cold temperatures, such as inside a refrigerator, and is commonly found in deli meats, such as hot dogs, which have not been processed properly. Because of this, many people choose to heat their hot dogs, instead of eating them cold.

The basic symptoms of listeria include diarrhea, nausea, fevers, and achy muscles. If these symptoms are experienced, it is best to seek out medical attention.

Types Of Sausages

There are so many different types of sausages to choose from, so it can become quite confusing which are fine to eat cold, and which need some cooking beforehand.

Sausages can be made from red meat such as beef, pork, lamb, or veal, or made from poultry such as turkey or chicken.

To prevent food sickness, all uncooked sausages which contain ground beef, lamb, pork, or veal should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Those which contain ground chicken or turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sausages that are sold as ready-to-eat are either dry, semi-dry, or cooked. These can be smoked, unsmoked, or cooked. Semi-dry sausages are usually fully cooked by being heated in the smokehouse, and then partially dried. Cooked sausages are fully cooked before packaging and can also be smoked.

Which Sausages You Can Eat Cold

Sausages that are cooked or smoked are fine to eat cold unless stated on the label. These are made of one or more types of ground or chopped meats that have been seasoned and smoked or cooked.

Some sausages which fall into this category are:

  • Hot dogs
  • Liverwurst
  • Bologna
  • Cooked bratwurst
  • Knockwurst
  • Cooked salami
  • Cooked Thuringer
  • Braunschweiger
  • Driedkielbasa

These sausages are commonly found in the deli section and can be kept in the fridge for up to a week before being eaten, but once again, it is important to check the label for safe handling and storage.

Which Sausages Should Be Cooked

Fresh sausages always need to be cooked before being eaten. These sausages are made from meat food products that have been reduced to mince or finely chopped and can contain different meat by-products such as hearts, kidneys, or livers.

Fresh sausages are often seasoned, and cured and may contain binders to keep them in shape. These sausages need to be kept thoroughly refrigerated and cooked properly before eating.

Sausages that fall into this category include:

  • Fresh pork sausages
  • Fresh beef sausages
  • Breakfast sausages
  • Whole hog sausage
  • Italian sausage products
  • White kielbasa

Can I freeze cooked hot dogs?

If stored properly, cooked hot dogs can remain in the fridge for 3 days. If you want to further extend the shelf life of the hot dogs, you can freeze them in freezer bags or airtight containers. These will be fine to freeze for up to 2 months, and just need to be thawed and reheated before being eaten.

What is the best way to cook a hot dog?

There are so many different ways to cook hot dogs, but the best way to cook a hot dog to ensure it has the best flavor and quality is to heat it on a skillet. Add a small amount of water to the skillet and heat until the water starts to boil off. Add in the hot dogs and cook until they are ready.

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