Hot dog bars are a fun and easy way to feed a large number of people, and are especially popular for sports and family gatherings (kids love hot dogs). The type of toppings you offer can range from traditional to gourmet toppings, and we have plenty of suggestions.
If you’re thinking of having a hot dog bar for a wedding reception, birthday, graduation, Fourth of July, family reunion, fundraiser, or other event and need to know how much to buy and prepare, you’ll can get an estimate of what you’ll need using this calculator.
So if you need to know how many dogs for 25, 50, 100 or more, the Hot Dog Bar Calculator will figure it out for you. To make your life even easier, you will also get a breakdown of toppings and ingredients you might need!
Read more or skip down to the calculator
How Many Hot Dogs Do I Need Per Person
If you have any “big eaters” or teens, you may need to 3 hot dogs for per person, whereas you’ll only need one hot dog each for young children. However, the number of hot dogs needed should average out to about two hot dogs per person if other hearty side dishes are also available. The calculator is based on a portion size of two hot dogs per person.
Use A Crock Pot To Keep The Hot Dogs Warm
Unless you have someone continually manning the grill and cooking dogs on-demand, it’s best to simply heat the hot dogs and keep them in a covered crock pot or warming pan with a small amount of water to maintain moisture. No one likes over-cooked, shriveled dogs! The entire meal is self-serve and everything can be prepared in advance.
Since the majority of ingredients are served cold or at room temperature, you’ll only have to worry about keeping a few ingredients heated. Guests get to choose their own fillings, so they’re less likely to be disappointed. You can serve basic ingredients, or step it up a notch by offering a unique variety of gourmet toppings.
Hot Dog Bar Tips:
- If you are going for more of a gourmet-feel, offer several unconventional toppings along with a variety of bun options.
- Use diner-style paper or plastic hot dog baskets.
- Use aluminum chafing trays filled with ice or inflatable serving trays to keep toppings that need to stay cold. You can usually get these at your local dollar store.
- Use crockpot slow cookers or buffet servers to keep hot dogs, buns and other ingredients warm. Smaller 1 quart triple slow cookers are great for serving chili, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, beans, while larger slow cookers are best for the dogs and buns. Cover the buns with a kitchen towel to keep in moisture.
- Use Squeeze Bottles – Putting condiments into squeeze bottles will help reduce waste and mess and make “self-serve” easier. Be sure to get the type of bottles that have attached or twist-style tips, otherwise the tips will get misplaced.
- Shredded cheese may start to “sweat” and get clumpy in outdoor heat. It may be easier to offer melted cheese sauce in a small crockpot or “cheese in a can” (Cheese Whiz, Easy Cheese, etc), or squeezable cheese. These cheeses also come in a variety of cheese flavors. An 8 ounce bottle of snack cheese contains 7 – 2 TBSP (32 gm) servings.
- Use signs to suggest topping combinations – Offer toppings for at least 5 iconic hot dog styles (Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, New York dogs, etc). Display hot dog recipes inside small picture frames to guide your guests through the toppings for each style.
- Add signage to your layout and food item tent cards so that guests won’t have to guess what’s being offered.
25+ Hot Dog Toppings
Select a variety of toppings that will appeal to your guests. Again, you can display popular hot dog recipes as suggestions for your guests.
- Yellow mustard
- Spicy brown mustard
- Ranch dressing
- BBQ sauce
- Dill pickle spears
- Sliced tomatoes
- Diced onions
- Sweet pickle relish
- Caramelized onions
- Pineapple relish
- Grilled bell pepper slices
- Corn chutney
- Mango salsa
- Finely sliced chives
- Shredded lettuce
- Chili sauce (no beans)
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Spicy cheese sauce
- Bacon bits
- Shredded swiss cheese
- Ham slivers
- Blue cheese crumbles
- Crushed fritos
- Potato sticks
- Sauteed mushroom slices
- Fried onions
Hot Dog Facts
A consumer survey showed that people prefer all beef hot dogs, and that mustard is still their favorite hot dog topping.
If you are making rather than purchasing your own chili sauce or other toppings, use our Recipe Multiplier to convert your recipes to the ingredient quantities you’ll need.
The calculator will provide an estimate of items needed based on standard serving sizes. However, guests’ preferences as well as appetite can vary greatly so you may have too much of one item and not enough of another.