For those looking to up their grilling game this summer, we have some post-Memorial-Day suggestions.

First: Homemade pickles.
Despite what many of us think, quick pickles are super-easy—and, as the name would suggest—quick to make at home. We wrote up a detailed bread + butter pickle recipe a bit back that you can essentially follow using any vegetable you want pickled (green beans, peppers, red onions, the golden beets you see above). You’d just up or lower the sugar used depending on how sweet (if at all) you want the end product and vary spices + herbs used for variety. But, essentially, all you need to do is put some fresh, raw vegetables in a glass container with said spices/herbs, boil some vinegar, and carefully pour it over the vegetables until covered, leaving at room temperature for an hour or two. That’s it. And it’s an awesome way to add visual interest to just about any dish; or, say, vegan hot dogs.

You can also make pickled vegetables without store-bought vinegar, using sea salt to coat vegetables like onions, slivered carrots, radish, red cabbage, or greens (like the beet greens you see below) and letting them stand for a couple hours. This breaks down the cellular structure of the vegetables and releases liquid, essentially creating a salty natural vinegar in the process. Then just rinse with water (or don’t if you like the saltier taste) and serve.

Second: Bun variety.
Let’s face it—buns are just a necessary vehicle for the dogs + toppings. And they can get really old if you chose buns that are too bread-y or you’re having more than one hot dog. So get a couple types of buns to add variety to your next grilling extravaganza. Milwaukee’s Miller Baking Company makes a great line of totally vegan pretzel buns for dogs + sandwiches that we LOVE. Between that and a nice, soft generic hoagie roll that’s dairy-free, it’s easy maximize your vegan-hot-dog eating without getting all ho-hum about the bread. And both options are great in the stand-up arena, which is superb for allowing a ton of toppings (the real star of any hot dog party in our opinions).

Third: Get creative.
A classic ketchup + mustard dog is great sometimes, but we’ve had a lot of fun planning out more ambitious, less traditional flavor combinations with our toppings. Think out some flavors that work well in other foods and figure out if they might translate well to your next vegan hot dog.

This past Memorial Day we ended up with:
Homemade vegan chili with homemade cashew cheese, salt-cured beet greens, crunchy fried shallots (the kind you find at Asian markets), vegan mayo, and pickled golden beets on grilled white hoagie bun;
Sweet Earth vegan bacon with homemade Korean chili flake bread + butter pickles, homemade pub cheese, sautéed onions, vegan mayo, and salt-cured red cabbage on grilled pretzel bun (both pictured above);
And, with a tenuous analog to the wonderful world of bagels, a vegan cream cheese-slathered pretzel bun with salt-cured beet greens, pickled red onions, and Sriracha (pictured below along with the bacon variant on white bun with pickled peppers).

For the vegan dogs themselves, we tend to like the old-school soy-based ones or the more vegan sausage-like ones—less the really high-gluten ones that make you feel like you’re eating a bread sandwich—or even sous-vide carrots. But, really, it’s about the toppings, man. The toppings.