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/ Source: TODAY
By Justin Chapple

Justin Chapple of Food & Wine's Mad Genius Tips is stopping by TODAY to share fun and easy hot dog and burger hacks for a festive Fourth of July.

He shows us how to turn hot dogs into cute sea creatures, make burger patties with getting your hands dirty, hide secret messages in frankfurters, defrost frozen beef patties fast and more.

Spiral-Cut Hot Dogs

Spiral-Cut Hot Dogs
Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Ingredients

Hot dogs

Method

1. Insert a skewer through each hot dog.

2. With a small knife, cut at an angle while rolling the dog away from you.

3. Slide the hot dog off the skewer, then stretch out the spirals.

4. Grill to crispy perfection.

Crosshatch Marinated Hot Dogs

Ingredients

Hot dogs

Barbecue sauce

Olive oil

Apple cider vinegar

Method

1. Using a small knife, cut a crosshatch patter on two sides of the hot dogs.

2. In a bowl, whisk 1 cup barbecue sauce with a little olive oil and apple cider vinegar (only enough to thin it out just a little). Add the hot dogs to the marinade and refrigerate until ready to cook.

3. Remove the hot dogs from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then grill the hot dogs until little charred and crispy.

Secret Message Hot Dogs

Ingredients

Hot dogs

Method

Using a very small knife (or the tip of a thin sharp skewer or cake tester), write a message in a hot dog. (Pro tip: Letters with straight lines always look best!)

Boil the hot dogs until heated through and the message is revealed. You can eat as is or grill after.

Octo-Dogs and Crab-Dogs

Octo- and Crab-Dogs
Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Ingredients

Hot dogs

Method

1. Cut hot dogs into thirds crosswise.

2. For octopus dogs, cut the two hot dog ends lengthwise, leaving 1/4- to 1/2-inch intact, to form 8 "legs." Boil the hot dogs and the legs with twirl and twist. (For longer octopuses, cut the hot dogs in half and follow the same technique.)

3. For crab dogs, cut 3 slits on either side of the hot dog center, leaving the center intact. Cut two slits in the top at an angle to create the head.

Hands-Off Burger Patties

Ingredients

Ground beef

Method

Mound 6 ounces of ground meat on a plastic takeout lid, invert another lid on top, then press down to flatten.

Quick Burger Defrost Hack

Ingredients

Frozen burger patties

Method

Place frozen burger patties on an inverted half baking sheet, put another half baking sheet on top, then let stand until defrosted.

Mustard-Grilled Burgers

Hands-Off Burger Patties
Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Ingredients

Ground beef

Dijon mustard

Freshly ground black pepper

Burger buns

Ketchup

Lettuce

Tomato slices

Method

1. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Form 1½ pounds of ground beef (or ground chicken or turkey) into four 3/4-inch thick patties. Using your thumb, imprint the center to prevent them from swelling on the grill.

2. Brush both sides of the burger patties with Dijon and season with pepper. Grill over moderate high heat until browned outside and cooked to your liking, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare, 5 to 8 for more cooked.

3. Serve the burgers in buns with ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato.