Planning a BBQ party for friends with diverse eating habits, including some vegetarians, can feel like walking a tightrope when I want everyone to have a plate of grilled something at the table. While grilled carrots are hardly new, treating them like a hot dog smothered in a sweet spicy tangy mustard paste is. Grilled carrot dogs check the box for vegetarians as well as your more health-conscious friends. They will be a surprise hit this summer.
While these carrot dogs are great for a party, they are just as suited for a weekday lunch. In fact, I’m probably more likely to have carrots on hand than hot dogs.
Slather Your Carrot Dogs With BBQ Mustard Paste
What makes these more than just a “grilled carrot” is the use of a mustard paste. The paste, a combination of yellow and Dijon mustard, includes the BBQ mainstays of garlic, paprika, and cumin.
Their inclusion yields an earthy kick which melds with the tangy mustards. Coupled with the sweetness of the grilled carrot, every bite is a delight. It’s no wonder I found myself snacking on this repeatedly during testing.
How to Cut Carrots to Mimic Hot Dogs
In order to mimic a hot dog, the carrots are cut to size. I do keep a kitchen tape measure, but the easiest reference point is a hot dog bun. When cutting the carrots, chose sections that appear uniform in size. Ideally, look for a thickness of no larger than 1 inch which loses only 1/4 inch along the taper.
There will be a lot of leftover pieces of carrot, which is fantastic because coleslaw is a perfect side dish. For a finishing touch, consider using a knife to taper the carrot ends to match that of a real hot dog.
Parboiling Your Carrots Is a Must
You can grill a raw carrot on the grill from start to finish, but the results and the texture of this dense root vegetable will be different. For that reason, parboiling your carrots is a must. By partially cooking the carrot ahead of time, once it goes on the grill that cook time will serve to caramelize the mustard paste and carrot flesh. This gives every bite a touch of resistance before moving to the soft center. In a way, it’s akin to biting through the casing of a hot dog.
Since the carrots are parboiled, they can be prepped a few days in advance truly making this a hot dog like experience. Place them in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to grill!
How to Perfectly Grill a Carrot Dog
A word of caution, grilling with a paste can be a challenge. If you aren’t careful, the paste could fall off or get stuck to the grates. To avoid any grill pitfalls, keep these tips in mind:
- Ensure the grill has plenty of time to heat up. While the grill thermometer may show the desired temperature, you need at least 15 minutes for the grates and the inside of the grill to reach the same temperature.
- Brush those grates clean. The biggest reason food sticks to the grates is because you probably forgot to clean off last night’s dinner. Clean grates release food easier.
- If you feel resistance when trying to rotate a carrot, wait. Once the sear is complete and the crust on the carrot forms, the grate will release it. Give it another 30 seconds and try again.
Carrot Dog Toppings Galore
What’s a hot dog without toppings? Much like a traditional hot dog, carrot dogs are open to the same variety of fixings as their beef cousins. Ketchup and mustard, yes, more mustard, is fine. However, I opted for sauerkraut with caraway seeds and pickle relish and peppers.
There is truly a never-ending list of topping ideas. Just keep in mind if these are for a vegetarian friend, the toppings also need to be vegetarian. Chili carrot dogs will have to wait for another day...unless the chili is vegetarian.
Grilled Carrot Dogs
- 6 carrots, about 1-inch in diameter, peeled
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard, like Coleman’s
- 6 hot dog buns
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat
Cut the carrots:
While the water comes to a boil, peel and cut the carrots to the length of a hot dog bun—approximately 6 inches. Remove parts of the carrot, so the 6-inch portion is relatively uniform in size. If necessary, use a vegetable peeler to remove excess carrot.
Parboil the carrots:
In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the carrots until knife tender, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Drain carrots into a colander. With a paper towel, pat the carrots dry and place on a sheet tray or plate.
Make the paste:
In a small bowl, combine the yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, garlic, paprika, cumin, and ground mustard.
Coat the carrots with the paste:
Using a spoon, smear the mustard over the carrots, on all sides.
Prepare a grill for direct medium heat—350° to 450°F
Grill the carrots:
Grill the carrots over direct heat, turning several times until marked all over, 6 to 8 minutes total.
Grill the hot dog buns:
Grill the hot dog buns, cut side down, over direct heat, until marked, 45 to 60 seconds.
Place a carrot in each bun and eat with your favorite toppings.
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