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Vegetarian Hot Dogs

The last time I ate a hot dog was upwards of five years ago, on a boiling summer day, at a baseball game. Nothing sounded better than a hot dog and a cold beer, and boy, did they both hit the spot. There’s no denying that, whatever’s in hot dogs (shudder), they taste pretty darn good.

Since then, I think I’ve tried every vegetarian faux-hot dog on the market, and I have never been impressed. Not only are they just as processed as regular hot dogs (albeit without the objectionable animal products), but they just don’t taste very good. They tend to be rubbery and limp and flavorless – not something you want to sink your teeth into at a ballgame, or a barbecue, or anytime at all.

About as attractive as I’d imagine the goo to make real hot dogs, but healthier.

When I went on the hunt for a veggie hot dog recipe I could make at home, my list of criteria made me less than optimistic:

  1. No soy isolate/overprocessed meat replacer
  2. Must have tons of flavor
  3. Must be able to stand up to grill

Grill, baby, grill – but first, steam, baby, steam.

I honestly thought I’d have to try to Frankenstein a hot dog out of whatever I could find in the fridge until something worked – luckily, I was saved by this absolutely perfect recipe. Relatively easy and actually really fun to make, these look, smell and taste about 100 times better than any store-bought fake hot dog – and even give the real deal a run for its money. Once I figure out how to smuggle a few of these into a ballgame, I’ll be a happy camper. In the meantime, right now is the heart of grilling season – whip up a batch of these for your next barbecue, or just to have on hand for a quick dinner.

4.8 from 6 reviews

Vegetarian Hot Dogs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Make your own vegan hot dogs!
Yield: 8 hot dogs
  • 5 Tbsp (30g) almond meal
  • 9 oz (250g) firm tofu
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika OR several generous dashes liquid smoke
  • 1½ tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1⅛ cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  1. Crumble tofu into the bowl of a food processor.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, measure the 2 Tbsp soy sauce and add enough water to get to the 100mL line. Add to food processor.
  3. Add almond meal, oil, onion, garlic, paprika/liquid smoke, sugar, salt, pepper, coriander, mustard, nutmeg, cardamom, and cumin to the processor and pulse until smooth, about two minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add vital wheat gluten and cornstarch to the mixture and stir to combine. Knead gently – the mixture will be soft but you’ll see strands of gluten forming.
  5. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Roll each into a rough hot dog shape (doesn’t have to be perfect). Wrap each dog in parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Twist ends of the foil shut.
  6. In a large pot with a steamer insert or basket, bring enough water to just under the steamer to a boil. Arrange your hot dogs in the steamer – close together is fine, and it’s okay if they’re touching.
  7. Cover and steam for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool in the pot, uncovered.
  8. To cook, unwrap hot dogs and simmer in water for five minutes, or fry in a frying pan, or throw ‘em on the grill until hot and pretty with grill marks!
  9. Serve on buns with ketchup, mustard, relish, diced onions, or your favorite hot dog topping.
If you’re soy-free, some readers have had success subbing butter beans for the tofu – pinto or cannelini would probably work just as well.

Source: Thrifty Living

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74 Responses to Vegetarian Hot Dogs

  1. Barb Mazzotta says:

    Ok, now you’ve stirred my curiosity! I LOVE hot dogs, never tried the veggie dogs, but I have a vegan friend who’s coming to camp next Saturday for our “belated” 4th of July celebration and these sound perfect.
    Where would one get the “unusual” ingredients?
    ie: almond meal & vital wheat gluten? Is that something I should be able to find at Peter’s Cornucopia???

  2. Lulu says:

    I am allergic to Almond but would love to try these, any idea of how I could supplement it? Thanks :)

    • Julie says:

      Hi Lulu! I think you could use flax meal or oat flour – the almond meal is used as a binder and for consistency and I would guess that either of those would provide a similar texture. If you try it, let me know how they turn out!

    • Julie says:

      Oh – forgot to mention that you don’t have to hunt down oat flour, you can just buzz regular rolled oats in the food processor until they are a flour-like consistency. Happy hot-dogging!

  3. Maddie says:

    This looks delicious! Do you think I could find vital wheat gluten in Colorado? I’ve never seen it around (or even heard of it) but I definitely want to try these out. :)

  4. Rachael says:

    Found this via VegWeb on Pinterest. I’m so stoked to make these — think they’d hold up on a stick over a campfire? That’s the one time I break down and buy yucky processed ones because you just have to have a hot dog on a stick over a campfire!! :)

    Note on Vital Wheat Gluten for Maddie and anyone else: most every big supermarket carries it in the baking section because lots of people add it to bread recipes. I’ve never had a problem finding it in any grocery chain here in Utah, and if all else fails, I know you can get it in Whole Foods or Sunflower if there’s one near where you live in CO.

    • Julie says:

      I do think they would hold up! Just make sure to steam them fully, and then keep them refrigerated until you’re off to go camping. And thank you for the additional info on where to find vital wheat gluten! Hope you enjoy these.

  5. anon says:

    Can you make this recipe without the gluten?

    • Julie says:

      I haven’t tried so I can’t tell you for sure…the gluten is kind of what binds everything together, so I don’t know what a good gluten-free sub would be, as I’m not super experienced with GF baking. You could try a GF flour with some xanthan or guar gum for additional binding. If you do try it, let me know how it turns out.

  6. Ashley says:

    I can’t WAIT to make these!

  7. Lena says:

    I am not too fond of buying the processed meat replacements either, so I am happy to have found this recipe. I’ll have to give this a try, you make them sound really good.

  8. Deborah says:

    I would love to try this but don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen so need to make the most of it when I do. Can the recipe be doubled and the hot dogs frozen? Thanks.

  9. Allison says:

    I’m incredibly excited about making these. Fingers crossed it’s going to be a big hit with my boys. One question, do you have to use the parchment paper?

    • Julie says:

      Hey Allison! I’d be a little worried about them sticking to the foil if you don’t use the parchment. You might be able to spray the foil with a little cooking spray before wrapping them and steaming, but I can’t vouch for the results since I haven’t tried it that way. Good luck – hope you enjoy!

  10. Jak says:

    But what is the casing made out of exactly?? I have to make a vegetarian sausage (hot dog) as part of a Culinary product development course, I am struggling for ideas and because I have never made a veg sausage, struggling to gain the knowledge of where to start! Do you have any other recipes at all or any advice for me? Would be greatly received, Sincerely Jak C-B

  11. Jason says:


    How many calories is each hotdog?

  12. Pascale says:

    The kids and I did not like the veggie dogs found in grocery stores around here, so when I saw this recipe I was very hopeful once again to finally be able to have a decent hot dog…

    The kids (6 and 8) helped me rolled them and they thought it was better than play dough… My daughter wasn’t crazy about the look of it-called it dog poop while helping with the blender, but she ate 2! Even my husband (not vegan) had some. I think the liquid smoke won him over.

    I did make the mistake to use wax paper (was out of parchment paper) but it still worked perfectly… Beside the yummy taste, I really liked the fact that they hold very well.

    Thank you so much for the recipe!

  13. Brenda says:

    For those that can’t tolerate soy products, I’ve substituted butter beans for the tofu and balsamic vinegar for the soy sauce. This is one of my favorite recipes. They do taste great!

  14. fitzy says:

    What a wonderful recipe! At presenting I have 9 hotdogs in the steamer. I found this recipe really easy to follow, great idea about the tofu to add texture. Many thanks. We are all awaiting hot dogs for dinner tonight x

  15. Kaycie says:

    My husband recently joined me in my quest to be vegetarian/vegan, but corn dogs used to be one of his favorite guilty pleasures. Any way I could turn these into corn dogs? Any tips, have you tried it?

    • Julie says:

      I haven’t tried but I was actually thinking about this just the other day – it’s on my to-do list. When I try it, I’ll certainly post about it!

  16. Angel says:

    I am not using the same kind of food processor you have… can you elaborate on how much water needs to be added (you said up to the 100ml line – mine does not have one).

    • Julie says:

      Angel, my food processor doesn’t have one either. Use a standard liquid measuring cup to measure out the soy sauce, and then fill with water to the 100 mL line. Then pour that into the food processor.

  17. [...] Since store-bought meat hot dogs are disgusting and unhealthy, I suggest making your own vegan ones to use the dressing on. I don’t have my own recipe for this, since I use this recipe: [...]

  18. Lila says:

    Just made these (eating them right now). The texture is perfect! The tofu/ gluten flour combination is just perfect for something that holds together, but not like the seitan rubber that some recipes give you. Really nice texture!

    I’m not a big fan of cumin, so I’ll probably use less or none next time, but that’s just a personal preference. Great recipe! I’ll definitely be playing around with this in the future to get the spices just how I like them. Thanks!

  19. Lynda P. says:

    I’ve been searching for a vegie dog recipe for so long. I used to love Loma Linda’s Linkettes, but when they were bought out be Kellogg they started making them with GMO soybeans. (And other unhealthy stuff). But nothing was satisfactory until now. These dogs are wonderful. Served on homemade whole wheat rolls with my homemade green tomato hot dog relish. Perfection! Thanks so much for this recipe. My quest is over.

  20. Melanie R says:

    Rather than steaming these, could they be baked? My experience with steaming is limited to a handful of veggies.

    • Julie says:

      Hi Melanie, I think it’s important to steam these – the steam heat is what gives it the texture. I think baking would making them much dense and chewier.

  21. [...] Homemade Vegetarian Dogs | Baked In Gluten Free Corn Dogs | kumquat [...]

  22. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I had family members eating them alongside their steak kabobs and saying how good they are! I thought the recipe might be a little complicated when I started, but they came together quite quickly. I steamed them in my eletric pressure cooker and they came out perfect! I’m happy to hear they freeze well. I will never buy the rubbery processed (and expensive) packaged veggie dogs again. I might add some hot pepper next time to spice them up!

  23. Dawn says:

    I loove hot dogs and its one of the foods i used to enjoy prior to becoming vegetarian, i cant wait to try this but…i have a dumb question, I keel hearing “gluten free” when roaming vegan blogs is this wheat gluten okay to eat? What is the deal with gluten? Tahanks for helping a newbie :))

    • Julie says:

      Hi Dawn! Not a dumb question at all. Gluten free and vegan don’t have to go hand in hand – gluten is the protein found in wheat and many people have allergies or intolerance to it. However, it is not an animal product and can be enjoyed to its fullest on a vegetarian diet :)

  24. Monica says:

    Any idea what the caloric count is for those of us watching our calories?

    • Julie says:

      Sure thing Monica – provided you get 9 dogs with the recipe, 185 cals, 9g carbs, 9g fat, 15g protein.

      • Monica says:

        Thanks! That helps a bunch. I would have made them anyway, but it’s helpful to know! I’m going to make them for 4th of July campout at our property. Yum.

  25. Hannah says:

    I just made these and they came out very mushy, with no bite to them at all. Is that how they are supposed to be? Or should I steam them longer or add more gluten? Just wondering if you had this same problem.

    • Julie says:

      Hannah, I’m sorry they didn’t turn out well for you! I’ve never had them turn out mushy :( Maybe try a little extra gluten and/or make sure the tofu you add isn’t too wet? I’m sorry I don’t have better troubleshooting tips – have never had this problem.

    • Cliff says:

      I had the same problem the insides turned out mushy so i’m kind of worried about trying again,not sure what to do.

      • Julie says:

        Hi Cliff – unfortunately I don’t have much advice as I’ve never had this problem. You could try adding a bit more gluten, or wrapping them more tightly? Other than that I’m not sure how to troubleshoot this!

      • Diana says:

        I haven’t made them with tofu, but use butter beans as a replacement, and have never had them turn out mushy. I steam them for the prescribed time, rolled in parchment, then foil, cover on tight and steaming at just under medium.

        • Julie says:

          I’m glad they’re still working for you, Diana! And thanks for the great tip on butter beans for all the soy-free folk who might want to make these – I’ve added a note to the recipe to indicate that as a potential substitution.

  26. julie sharpe says:

    My kids/husband/I loved this. I subbed ricotta for the tofu (GMO fears / non fermented soy fears) and it worked great. Will try the above suggestion –butter beans — next time!

  27. Stephen says:

    I am also oil free. Would it work without oil

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  29. kd says:

    I just love these, made a double batch stacked them in , on top of eachother and all and they came out awesome. (def. not mushy. I suggest making sure you do cook them for 45 min. I’m about to make them for the second time and as I’m out of a lot of the spices I’m going to change these up a bit. I doubt they’ll come out any different except the flavor —and the texture is most important. They are so much like the “tofurky” types I’d guess they are almost identical… THANK-YOU! a new family fav has been found!

    • Julie says:

      KD, so glad they turned out well for you. I think changing up the spices is a great idea – once you’ve got the texture down this lends itself to any sort of sausage variation. Chipotle, sage, the possibilities are endless!

  30. Diana says:

    I can’t wait to try these! Need the weather to cool a tad since we don’t have A/C. I’m having fun trying to find a veggie steamer of all things. Wal-Mart next week is my next place to try. :-) If I can’t find a steamer, I’m going to poke some small holes in aluminum foil and drape it into my large pot.

  31. Diana says:

    Made the dogs yesterday and ate them last night. Fabulous! Hubby loved them, too. Can’t do soy so subbed the butter beans. Didn’t taste “beany” at all. Going to try ricotta one of these days, too. The texture was just a tiny bit dry (maybe because of the drained beans?), so next time I’m going to just use 1 cup of vital gluten flour and see how that goes. But over all — love them love them love them! Thanks Julie!!

  32. Laura says:

    Hi Julie,

    I’m wondering if you pressed the tofu first? Can’t wait to try these.


    • Julie says:

      Hi Laura – I did not, but I usually use a high-protein tofu from Trader Joe’s that isn’t very liquidy. It certainly won’t hurt to press it. Enjoy!

  33. Heather says:

    these are wonderful! I made them for the second time tonight. I just realized I left out the oil on accident, but I think I like them even better without! They seem to be more firm. I made veggie chili earlier today so we are having chili dogs. Yum! Thank you for this recipe!

  34. Le-Anne says:

    regarding steamers, I use a large bamboo steamer from an asian grocery store…works a treat and is cheap, too.

  35. Pauline says:

    Could a person actually put them in a casing and skip the steaming step?

    • Julie says:

      Hi Pauline, I’m not sure if this would work because the steaming is what cooks them. If you’re asking if you could use a premade casing and then boil them, I’ve never tried and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Seitan needs a longer cooking time than a traditional hot dog. You could try but I can’t vouch for the results.

  36. michael hargarten says:

    Awesome!! I will try this!! Anyone got a good recipe for tofu/ vegetarian hamburgers??? ;=\>

    • Diana says:

      Well, I can’t do tofu so I sub butter beans for tofu in the hot dog recipe (YUM!), but there are some fantastic veggie burger recipes out there!

      Here’s one that super easy and very tasty:

      oat burger

      3 c water
      1/4 c soy (or tamari) sauce
      1 T veggie broth
      2 T “chicken” or “beef” seasoning
      3 T nutritional yeast
      1 T garlic powder
      1 T onion powder
      1 t salt

      1 onion and 1 c mushrooms diced in processor

      3 c oats
      1 c walnuts (ground in processor)

      combine 1st and 2nd sets of ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour in oats and ground walnuts and stir together. Let cool. Make burgers or ground “meat”.

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