How to Keep Hot Dogs Warm for School Lunches

Kids love hot dogs and if they could some kids would want to eat hot dogs every day, even at school.

If you’re tired of making your kids sandwiches for their school lunches and would like to try hot dogs instead, you might be wondering how to keep the hot dog warm for school lunches.

Even though you have to be careful so that the hot dog doesn’t get to a temperature that might be dangerous, there are a few ways to keep your child’s hot dog warm enough to be safe until it’s ready to be eaten.

To keep hot dogs warm for school lunches first cook them so they are boiling temperature all the way through. Then either wrap them in foil and keep them in an insulated lunch box or keep them in a vacuum insulated water bottle or thermos. This will keep them hot for hours at a time.

The key to preparing hot dogs and keeping them warm for your kids lunches is that you make them extremely hot to begin with. Then keep them above 140ºF (60ºC).

Once they drop below this temperature bacteria can start to grow. Once this happens they will need to be eaten in 1-2 hours or be discarded.

If you prep your hot dogs in the morning and they are eaten for a morning snack or lunch they should be fine. Trying to keep them until dinnertime though is a bit optimistic and may be dangerous.

So how do you keep hot dogs warm for your child's lunch box?

The Aluminum Foil Method

For this method, cook the hot dog until it is very hot, making sure that the meat is thoroughly cooked when you’re done. You want the meat to be as hot as possible.

After cooking, go ahead and put it in a hot dog bun; however, don’t put any type of condiments on it because that will make the hot dog soggy.

Once the hot dogs are in the buns, wrap them immediately with aluminum foil and wrap them twice if you have enough foil.

Don’t wrap more than one hot dog in each piece of foil because each hot dog has to be wrapped separately.

To keep them even warmer until lunch time, it’s a good idea to do the following:

  • Place them in an insulated bag
  • Add something else hot into the bag, a hot water bottle is a good idea
  • Make sure that the bag and the hot dog stay closed until it’s lunchtime

For even better results (but a bit more work) don't place the hot dogs in the buns but wrap them separately in aluminum foil and keep them in an insulated lunch bag.

Keep the buns separate.

At lunch time your kids can unwrap the hot dogs, place them in the buns and add their condiments.

Use an Insulated Bottle with Hot/Boiling Water

Vacuum insulated tumblers or water bottles are actually one of the best insulators for keeping things hot. For this technique you'll want a double walled vacuum insulated bottle. It needs to be leak proof as we'll be filling it with hot water.

Take an insulated beverage container and fill it up with boiling water. Put the lid on and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

After you’ve let it sit for up to 20 minutes, empty that water out and place more boiling water inside of the container.

Next, keep the water in there and place one or more hot dogs in the water, then close the lid tightly.

Keep the bun and packets of condiments separately from the hot dog.

When your child gets to school, he or she can simply remove the hot dog from the beverage container and place it directly on the bun to continue.

Some parents tie strings around the hot dogs and then leave a long piece of the string sticking out of the bottle.

That way, kids can more easily drain the water out of the thermos while holding onto the string and they won’t have to worry about the hot dogs accidentally falling into a dirty sink or, worse, falling down the drain.

This should easily keep the hot dog hot enough until lunch time with minimal risk of bacteria growth.

This is better suited to older kids who won't burn themselves with the boiling water. It's not advised for younger kids as there is definitely a burn risk here.

Use a Thermos Bottle Without Boiling Water

If you want to avoid your child going to school with boiling water (which I totally understand) then you can still use a Thermos or vacuum insulated water bottle but just don't put boiling water in it.

Cook your hot dogs at home bringing them up to boiling point temperature. Remember you're making these to be hot to eat later so you want them extra hot when you're prepping them.

Once they are cooked and hot place them in a thermos or vacuum insulated water bottle or tumbler.

The more hot dogs you put in the longer they will all stay hot for. So aim for 2 or more.

They should stay hot until lunch time where your kids can just tip them out onto the bun, add their condiments and have a delicious lunch.

How Hot Should You Prepare The Hot Dogs For Your Kids Lunches? Some Food Safety Tips

After reading all of this, you might be wondering about how hot your hot dog should be before you stuff it in a container or wrap it in foil.

If your hot dog doesn’t start out hot enough, there is a possibility that it will be at a “dangerous” temperature by the time lunchtime rolls around.

Hot dogs need to have an internal temperature above 140ºF (60ºC) to be safe to eat. If they get below that, it is possible for bacteria to start growing, which increases the chances of the hot dog making your kids sick…and we don't want that.

The best thing to do to decrease the chances of someone getting sick from a hot dog is to cook it until it is steaming before you store it.

The hotter it is when you wrap it in foil or put it in hot water, the longer it’s going to stay hot and the less chance you’ll have of getting sick.

Once the hot dog drops below 140ºF (60ºC) it should be eaten within 1-2 hours otherwise it should be discarded.

Hot dogs are made mostly of by-products so they’re not exactly the healthiest food on the planet. So it's probably best not to send them with hot dogs every day of the week, but for an occasional treat they are a great snack or lunch option.

When you want to cook some hot dogs for your child to take to school for his lunch, the smartest thing you can do is make sure that they are steaming hot before you do anything else with them.

Again, the hotter, the better.

This way, they can still be warm by the time the child eats them and you won’t have as much to worry about when it comes to getting sick.

Just use common sense and some precautions, and remember to cook the hot dog all the way through to make certain it is safe to eat later on.