Air Fryer Hot Dogs Are the Platonic Ideal of Gas Station Roller Dogs

Air Fryer Hot Dogs Are the Platonic Ideal of Gas Station Roller Dogs
Let me go on, like I blister in the sun. (Photo: Claire Lower)

When I first heard someone rave about their “air fryer” and touting its calorie-cutting abilities, I lost interest almost immediately. I simply do not care about things like that. The second time I heard someone discussing an air fryer, they explained that it is merely a small, powerful convection oven, and I was mildly interested. It was not until the third time — when Danielle Guercio outlined the appliance’s snack-making abilities on this very site — that I became I convinced that I needed one.

So far, my purchase has not made my diet any healthier, but I was never expecting it to. (That would be far too much to expect of an inanimate object; real change has to come from within.) Yes, I can use a little less oil when roasting potatoes, but its main draw is how quickly it heats up, how easy it is to clean, and how it absolutely excels at cooking greasy, salty snacks and leftovers. I’m particularly entranced by what it does to hot dogs.

Imagine, if you will, the hot dog at your local convenience store or gas station. Picture the sausage, tumbling forward but never travelling, its skin growing taut, blistered and shiny as it sizzles away in its own grease atop hot metal cylinders. Now imagine you could recreate that same sausage in five minutes, in your own home, no rollers needed. That is the reality of the air fried hot dog, and it is beautiful.

To make plump, snappy sausages, all you have to do is set your air fryer to 200 degrees Celsius and let the dogs cook for five minutes. The rapidly circulating, super hot air will draw the fat out of the sausage, rendering its skin like that of a roller dog, only better, because — unlike those mysterious tumbling meat tubes — you know exactly how long your hot dog has been cooking (five minutes). Depending on the size of your air fryer, you can make several at a time.

My pressure cooker Vortex Mini can fit six dogs, or — if I’m dining solo — one dog and one bun. (I brush the bun with a little butter or mayo before setting it aside the hot dog and it comes out oh so golden, but still a little soft.)

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