For years now, a war has been raging between two classic summer staples: hamburgers and hot dogs.
Hamburgers and hot dogs are no doubt considered by most to be American classics, but: which is healthier?
“When it comes to determining which is healthier—a hamburger or a hot dog—it depends on how they are prepared,” says Tessa Prior-Pullins, one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD. “It also depends on where you purchase them from, and which of the two has less tempting toppings.”
With help from our expert dietitian, we set out to settle this food fight to determine, once and for all, which one is healthier: hamburgers or hot dogs?
Round 1: Less Fat for Dollars…
When it comes to the battle between hamburgers vs. hot dogs, one gives you more of an option to make it a little healthier.
“Not very many people prepare hot dogs at home, so you get what food companies provide you,” says Tessa. “The problem with hot dogs is that they are usually loaded with tons of sodium and preservatives.”
For the most part, pork hot dogs usually contain more fat than protein. Even the healthier varieties of hot dogs—turkey, in particular—still have a considerable amount of fat.
“Hamburgers, depending on where you purchase them from, offer more variety of choices, but they still don’t make a 100% fat-free burger,” says Tessa. “Hamburgers from commercial restaurants usually contain about 20% fat. This means for a five ounce hamburger, one-fifth of it is solid saturated fat, which is bad.”
Even though hamburgers do contain fat, you can purchase lean ground beef which contains as little as 7% fat. Hamburgers are also much easier to prepare at home. You can reduce things like sodium in your burger by using alternative spices instead of salt such as: all spice, dill, chili powder, and garlic.
So, when it comes to less fat for dollars, hamburgers dominate round 1.
Round 2: Less Tempting Toppings
What’s better than a great-tasting hot dog or a juicy hamburger? The toppings we love to load on top of them, of course!
“When it comes to calorie-packed toppings, hot dogs definitely make tempting toppings like sweetened pickled relish, and chili cheese difficult to resist,” says Tessa. “Hamburgers, on the other hand, are a little easier to trim up.”
Generally, to make a hamburger taste good, you only need a few toppings like mustard and ketchup to be satisfied. Hot dogs, however, have more toppings, and cannot be made a little healthier by the addition of things like lettuce and tomato.
So, in the battle of less tempting toppings, hamburgers win—hands down!
Round 3: More Ways to Enjoy Less
Whether you cook or grill a hamburger or hot dog, preparation can say a lot about the nutritional value of each.
“On the grill, hamburgers release a lot of fat that drips into the fire, making them leaner,” says Tessa. “Since hot dogs are usually wrapped in a casing, not as much fat gets cooked out of them. The fat usually stays sealed inside.”
Hamburgers are typically easier to eat in a healthy way, too—you can eat with them with a knife and fork, and skip out on the bun. (It’s also a bit difficult to hold a bun-less hot dog without feeling a little silly.)
In the battle of more ways to enjoy less fat, hamburgers definitely reign victorious in round 3.
“In summary, when you’re at home or at a restaurant, I would recommend choosing a hamburger over a hot dog,” says Tessa.
In the long-running battle between the hamburger and the hot dog, the winner of this food fight, with a score of 3-0, is, without question, the hamburger.
To read about more food fights, read one of the related articles below.