I tried hot dogs from 4 fast-food chains and the winner was affordable and tasty

I tried four hot dogs from four different chains (hot dog pictured not included).

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I tried four hot dogs from four different chains (hot dog pictured not included).
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Shutterstock

  • I compared hot dogs from Sonic, Five Guys, Checkers, and Dairy Queen.
  • I ordered a beef hot dog from each place and had it topped with ketchup and mustard.
  • Here’s how each fast-food chain’s hot dog stacked up.
  • Overall, I thought Sonic’s All-American dog was very tasty and affordable.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

Commonly topped with condiments and served between golden buns, hot dogs are grilled sausages that are a popular food in the US. And although there’s nothing quite like a fresh-off-the-grill hot dog in the summer, I wanted to see how fast-food chains would serve up this classic meal.

As part of an ongoing INSIDER taste test series, I put four popular fast-food chains to the test to see which one was best able to satisfy my hot-dog cravings. In the past, we’ve sampled everything from frozen waffles to smoothies.

The chains I visited were:

  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Five Guys
  • Checkers
  • Dairy Queen

I ordered a beef hot dog from each eatery and had it topped with both ketchup and mustard. The hot dogs were all served in a bun.

Here’s how the hot dogs stacked up, judging by how much value I felt I got for the price and how they tasted.

The grilled hot dog at Checkers was a solid choice at a low cost

The hot dog from Checkers was affordable.

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The hot dog from Checkers was affordable.
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Megan Cook

The grilled hot dog at Checkers was topped with an even blend of both ketchup and mustard. The 6-inch hot dog came wrapped in paper, which kept the toasted, slightly sweetened bun nice and warm.

Although the menu calls this a “grilled” hot dog, I felt like the meat tasted and looked like it had been boiled. Even so, I thought this was a great-tasting hot dog with a nice meat-to-bun ratio.

I felt like the grilled hot dog from Checkers was a great deal, costing me just $1 ($1.07 with sales tax).

The kosher-style hot dog at Five Guys was a bit pricey but very flavorful

The Five Guys hot dog was nice and warm.

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The Five Guys hot dog was nice and warm.
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Meghan Cook

The basic, kosher-style hot dog from Five Guys was wrapped in aluminum foil to keep it warm and it seemed fresh and hot when it came out of the kitchen.

The bun was crisp and evenly toasted and the meat was slightly charred but juicy. Overall, I felt there was a nice amount of condiments on the hot dog – they didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the meat or bun.

I thought this was a good, savory hot dog but I was not sure it was worth the slightly higher cost of $4.49 ($4.81 with sales tax).

Dairy Queen’s hot dog was tasty and simple

The Dairy Queen hot dog was loaded with ketchup and mustard.

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The Dairy Queen hot dog was loaded with ketchup and mustard.
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Meghan Cook

Dairy Queen’s 6-inch hot dog was loaded with mustard and ketchup. This hot dog’s meat was slightly chewy and pink, a bit lighter than the meat of some of the other hot dogs I tried.

I thought this hot dog tasted quite similar to the one from Checkers even though it cost slightly more at $2.39 ($2.56 with tax).

Overall, I thought Sonic’s All-American dog was the most memorable and it was a great deal

Sonic's All-American dog ended up costing me just over $2.

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Sonic’s All-American dog ended up costing me just over $2.
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Meghan Cook

I felt that Sonic’s All-American dog had the perfect balance of condiments, meat, and bun. Plus, it was a great price. The 6-inch hot dog was topped with the perfect amount of ketchup and mustard and I felt this was the best-tasting hot dog I tried.

The hot dog’s meat was cooked to pinkish-brown perfection and it had a delicious balance of savory and rich flavors. The bun didn’t seem to be as fresh as the one from Five Guys but it was very toasty and had a nice crunch.

The cost for this hot dog was relatively inexpensive at just $1.99 ($2.24 with sales tax).