I like making things easier for myself and my family. I make things homemade but I don’t want it to have to be complicated, not with eleventy-billion kids and tons of stuff that needs to be done daily. But when the kids asked for Chili Cheese Hot Dogs like Sonic, I knew I could do it and do it better (and healthier), too, using all-natural hot dogs and turkey chili. (You can use homemade chili, too.)
Enter in my trusty 9×13 baking pan and tin foil with cooking spray.
Putting foil in the bottom of the pan with cooking spray and placing the prepared hot dogs in the oven gives the buns a slight crispness that helps withstand all the extra weight on top. Plus, the foil makes for easy-peasy clean-up. Not to mention, baking it sort-of melds the tastes together deliciously. My husband and children said it was the best chili cheese hot dogs they’d ever had, ever. I take that as a pretty good compliment
Before I got down to the nitty gritty, I set my oven to 350 to get it nice and toasty while I turned a skillet on medium-high heat to cook the hot dogs on the stovetop first. To make for an easier clean-up, I lined and sprayed my 9×13 pan with foil and placed the eager hot dog buns inside, slightly opened.
(Note: To make it extra-especially delicious, you can toast your buns open side down on the oven rack slightly, and then lightly butter the insides like toast before placing the hot dogs inside. An additional step, yes, but a worthwhile one! I used to frequent a diner that did this when I was a child , and they served the tastiest hot dogs EVER!)
Next, I opened the cans of turkey chili and shred my cheddar cheese on a plate while my hot dogs finished sizzling and cooking through. To me, there is no better way to cook hot dogs than in cooking spray on a skillet.
Once finished, I placed the hot dogs into the opened buns and spooned the unheated turkey chili over top, saving the cheese until later. I popped these badboys in the oven for about 10 or so minutes, and once the chili was steaming, I sprinkled the cheese over top and let it cook until melted on the top rack.
My house was filled with mumbled chewing during dinner. I had a little left over turkey chili that I heated up and spooned some over top my family’s tater tots with some leftover cheese, too. The praise just kept on comin’.
As if this wasn’t super easy to prepare enough, I made two pans of it, so that tomorrow’s lunch was already ready to go, too. And, because it was baked, they will hold up real well in their lunch boxes.
(Not pictured in the lunch above was all the healthy extras that didn’t fit, like cucumbers, carrot sticks, yogurt. My kids are going to be envied today at school!)
What do you think, have you ever toasted your hot dog buns before, or baked hot dogs like this? Be sure to visit my Operation Awesome School Lunch page for more healthy and easy school lunch ideas using dinner leftovers.