How To

How to Cook a Hot Dog in a Milk Carton

Cooking a hot dog in a milk carton may not sound like the most efficient way to cook a frank--it isn't--but it's a cool trick to know.

Yeah, it’s only a hot dog, and roasting it in a milk carton doesn’t do anything to make it taste any better. In addition, the cooking method is admittedly inefficient. But good food served in a flash is definitely not the point of this recipe!

What’s the purpose, then? Why, to have another item in your bag of tricks, of course! There’s hardly a better recipe for bringing a little fun to the fire pit, for impressing the younger campers, or for guaranteeing that your group of Scouts will want to participate.

Start by gathering the ingredients and cooking material, multiplying each item as required by the number of people you’ll be serving:

  • Hot dog (precooked)
  • Hot dog bun
  • Square sheet of aluminum foil
  • Empty 1/2-gallon wax-coated paper milk carton
  • Several sheets of newspaper
  • Favorite condiments

The milk carton must not be the plastic type! Use a wax-coated paper carton, and open it at the top, removing the plastic pouring spout. Rinse any remaining milk from the carton, and allow it to dry.

Clear a fire-safe area, free of debris and combustibles. A large metal pan placed on a grill grate or on the ground is ideal. A fire pit with no active fire and with no thick ash layer also works well.

Place the hot dog in the bun, and completely wrap the combination in the foil. Set it upright in the milk cartoon. Crumple the newspaper and pack it around the hot dog on all sides. Don’t pack the paper too tightly, or it won’t burn properly.

Set the milk carton upright in your fire-safe area and light the carton on fire at two or three locations along the open top edge of the carton.

Now all you need do is wait. And wait…and wait some more!

It can actually take several minutes for the carton to burn downward. But this is what works the magic. The slow burn of the waxed paper heats the carton’s interior and gradually cooks the hot dog from top to bottom.

Once the fire has burned to the bottom of the carton, carefully remove the foil pack, unwrap, and enjoy your perfectly cooked hot dog with your favorite condiments!

Watch the instructional “How to Cook a Hot Dog in a Milk Carton Video” here:

This recipe idea comes from The Scout’s Outdoor Cookbook by Christine and Tim Conners. See page 59, Flaming Gorge Hot Dog. Visit Tim and Christine at for free recipes and instructional material.

The “How to Cook a Hot Dog in a Milk Carton Video is a part of the new Lipsmackin’ Campin’ series presented by MSR (Mountain Safety Research)–a fun and informative WebTV series hosted by renowned cookbook authors Tim and Christine Conners.

Image courtesy Tim Conners

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Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of ActionHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.

6 thoughts on “How to Cook a Hot Dog in a Milk Carton

  1. Chris

    Huh? What’s the point? Since it’s wrapped in foil, why not just set it on a log in a real fire or eat the damn thing without heating it up. Waste of time.

    1. Tim Conners

      I think your questions are covered by the first two paragraphs. This isn’t about efficiency. It’s about putting on a show for the younger crowd.

  2. Murphy

    This is an old recipe from when the milk carton was coated in wax to waterproof it. Now they use a layer of plastic to waterproof the cartons. Burning the carton will release all sorts of toxic chemicals. Chemicals that are known carcinogens. A brown paper bag would be much safer.

    1. Tim Conners

      Hi Murphy – you’re correct about the coating process. Polyethylene plastic has been used for many years to coat paperboard for beverage cartons. But, unlike many plastics, polyethylene is also considered safe to burn. Unless it has been further doctored, unlikely when used with beverage cartons, it’s supposedly non-toxic.


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