Joey Chestnut's Go-To Way To Eat A Hot Dog, Outside Of Nathan's Contest

If you're into competitive eating, then you've heard of Joey Chestnut. Back in 2007, Chestnut won the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn's Coney Island with a world record-breaking meal of 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. He's held onto both his championship and his lunch since then, and as of the 2023 Nathan's competition, Chestnut has won every year except in 2015, with 16 championships and a current world record of 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes under his belt.


The hot dogs served en masse in competitive eating tend to be plain — just meat and bread. So does the world champion enjoy eating hot dogs in a more casual setting (and with condiments)? In an interview with USA Today, Chestnut said he does, and he takes his time preparing them when he's off the clock. According to Chestnut, "I like to slow cook them a little and then put it on a high temperature. It takes about 20 minutes to really cook one. I cook it for a long time and put on onions and mustard and started using relish recently. Growing up, I never had relish."

Joey Chestnut's casual hot dog recipe

Essentially, Joey Chestnut steams the franks in water before grilling them. As he explained to USA Today, "I add a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan, and eventually it kind of evaporates. That's when I turn up the stove." There are lots of ways to cook a hot dog and no definitive "right way" to do it. Chestnut's method is a variation on the pan-frying method, which is a great way to make just one or a few franks at a time. Pan-frying usually involves keeping a little water in the pan the entire time, and for the most part, it only takes a few minutes to get them browned.


It's less common to cook hot dogs using Chestnut's method, but the end result is similar to poaching hot dogs, which results in quite a juicy, crispy frank, or slowly cooking them in a liquid (water or broth) before grilling them on high. After you've purchased your favorite hot dog brand from your local grocery store and followed Chestnut's instructions, the finished frank should be juicy from its slow soaking. Meanwhile, the onions, mustard, and relish will add a bunch of tang and sweetness to the dog. They're filling enough that you may only need a couple of them, rather than 70 or more.

How to eat hot dogs competitively

Nathan's Famous is a beloved institution in New York City, and the lines for their hot dogs can get long at their Coney Island restaurant. However, while the Nathan's Famous menu includes chili cheese dogs and even cheesesteak dogs, the franks during the competition are plain. There's no ketchup or mustard allowed — competitors only eat franks and buns and drink water during the 10-minute competition. Competitors are allowed to dip the buns in water, which they often do because it makes them easier to swallow.


The major competitors like Chestnut or the recently retired champ Takeru Kobayashi prepare for these events similar to any other athlete — by conditioning their bodies through rigorous training. Chestnut's routine involves general dieting and exercise to get his body into shape, followed by weekly "practice" contests he holds starting in spring before the real contest in July. After practice runs, he eats mostly green vegetables and drinks lemon water to help him digest. This makes his slow-cooked hot dogs with onions and relish more of an off-season luxury.