Nothing screams “Fourth of July” like a big, snappy, squirts-when-you-bite-into-it, all-American hot dog.

Just as important as the hot dog itself, however, are the toppings. When you go to the ballpark, you want the basics: mustard, relish, maybe a few onions. Nothing too adventurous.

For a Fourth of July party, though, why not kick it up a notch?

Take some inspiration from the Blue Rooster Food Co. in Portland, where the imaginative toppings will knock your socks off. Chef Damian Sansonetti created the Seoul Dog, for example, which is topped with housemade spicy kimchi, toasted peanuts and roasted garlic mayo. Then there’s the Barking Dog, topped with garden relish cheese sauce and crispy onions.

Don’t worry about getting too fancy or complicated with your own toppings bar. You can raise the bar without spending hours in the kitchen. The guests at your Independence Day gathering will love you just for offering something a little different.

Here are just a few suggestions. These toppings are only a starting point. Add them to the hot dog on their own, or in some cases you can combine them with more traditional toppings like mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, chili or onions. 

• Macaroni and cheese — Just mention this classic comfort food in the same sentence as “hot dog,” and people of all ages say, “Mmmm.” But kids will especially love this topping. Adults: Try adding a little sriracha for a kick. 

• Bacon — Sansonetti isn’t the only one who has taken to wrapping his dogs in bacon before throwing them on the grill (he usually adds other things too, like house-cured kraut or tater tots). There’s a lot of bacon love being thrown around these days, but whether you wrap your dog in a slice or fry the bacon ’til it’s crispy and crumble it on top, the end result can only be delicious. Add some barbecue sauce and beans, and whoa, Nellie. 

• Broccoli slaw — This is for all the people who are appalled by the first two suggestions. Yes, broccoli is incredibly good for you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a tasteless topping. Indeed, you probably ought to make an extra batch, because even your guests who aren’t having hot dogs will want to try this.

First, save yourself some trouble by picking up a package of pre-cut broccoli slaw in the produce section of your grocery store. But don’t follow the directions on the package. Add a 1/2 cup mayonnaise (you can go up to 3/4 cup, depending on your personal taste), a tablespoon of vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, a handful of craisins and another handful of walnuts. Mix well, and try to control yourself. 

Avocado and salsa – Give your dog a Southwestern twist. Add a little crema or cotija, and maybe slip in some cilantro or a leaf of lettuce to provide some crunch. 

Onion rings — Just as we love the idea of tater tots or potato sticks (you know, the kind you had as a kid that came in a can) on hot dogs, we salivate just thinking about onion rings. But they must be crispy, and they must be made with real rings of onion. Do not use those processed rings filled with mushy chopped onion. That’s just wrong.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

mgoad@pressherald.com

Twitter: MeredithGoad