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15 Absolute Best Ways To Upgrade Pigs In A Blanket

Pigs in a blanket
Pigs in a blanket - Static Media / Shutterstock

There are a ton of different types of party appetizers out there, from pizza rolls to a platter of shrimp with cocktail sauce. But the best appetizer out there isn't mozzarella sticks -- it's pigs in a blanket.

These little appetizers are relatively simple to make and can be tweaked to suit whatever flavors and ingredients you have on hand. The basic requirements are that you start with a sausage (which could be a hot dog, cocktail sausage, Vienna sausage, or another sausage-adjacent item), wrap it with a layer of dough, and bake it. At most parties, you'll see these little pockets served with a side of mustard for dipping. Although this is a fine way to enjoy a party favorite, there are a whole host of different ingredients and techniques you can utilize to help you prepare pigs in a blanket that steal the show. Here are some of our favorite ways to take pigs in a blanket to a new level and get creative with classic finger food.

Read more: Common Mistakes Everyone Makes With Hot Dogs

Brush Them In Garlic Butter

Herb butter in bowl
Herb butter in bowl - Bhofack2/Getty Images

The best way to transform any of your favorite foods? Just add butter. That includes a batch of your favorite pigs in a blanket, which could really benefit from a brush of garlic butter to enhance its flavor.

Making the garlic butter itself couldn't be easier. You'll want to start by selecting which type of garlic works best for you. While some people go with mellow roasted garlic, others like fresh minced garlic's punchy flavor. Add any additional seasonings you desire to the butter, like onion powder or smoked paprika, melt it, and drizzle it on top of your puff pastry before you pop it into the oven. The profound garlic flavor plays well with the saltiness of the butter and the umami of the sausage. Plus, most home cooks likely already have a couple of spare garlic cloves hanging around their kitchen.

Make Breakfast Pigs In A Blanket With Breakfast Sausage

Breakfast sausages in pan
Breakfast sausages in pan - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

There are so many different kinds of weenies out there, and luckily, you aren't tied to any particular one for your pigs in a blanket. For example, you can turn your favorite appetizer into a breakfast staple with a simple ingredient swap. Instead of reaching for your container of cocktail weenies, grab a box of breakfast sausage links, instead. These packages come in an array of different flavors that will change the way your upgraded breakfast side tastes. Go for a maple breakfast sausage for something classic, or swap it with one made with more unconventional meat, like venison or duck breakfast sausage.

Once your breakfast sausages are completely defrosted, then you can slide them into smaller pieces and wrap each with a layer of dough. You can stick to the conventional puff pastry dough for this recipe or go for a simple crescent roll. We recommend serving these rolls with a side of maple syrup for dipping or, even better, adding a drizzle onto the inside of the pastry before you wrap it up.

Use Choux Pastry Instead Of Puff Pastry

French choux on baking tray
French choux on baking tray - P-Kheawtasang/Shutterstock

If you don't consider yourself the type of baker to stray away from a challenge, then making a pastry swap to elevate your pigs in a blanket is just up your alley. Instead of using the classic puff pastry for your weenies, you'll want to make a batch of choux, instead. For those unfamiliar, choux is the pastry used for making cream puffs, eclairs, and other bakery treats. The major difference between choux and puff pastry is that the choux is piped or dropped, while puff pastry dough can be rolled and cut. So, you'll have to make some major, but worthy, accommodations to make this recipe in your home kitchen.

The first step is making your choux pastry and then plopping it onto your baking sheet. You'll want to make little ovals that are just about the size of your cocktail sausage. Then, once the puffs have baked and cooked down, you can cut a small hole in the center and drop in a warmed sausage. The texture of this appetizer is between that of a standard puff pastry cocktail weiner and a corn dog -- but it is so worth it.

Skip The Cocktail Wiener For A Plant-Based Substitute

Vegan sausages on a plate
Vegan sausages on a plate - Gajus/Getty Images

If you're a plant-based eater,  a plate of pigs in a blanket at a party will just lead you to reach for the veggie tray, instead. But there are a ton of different vegan swaps you can make in your recipe to ensure that your pigs in a blanket can be enjoyed by eaters of all dietary preferences. Instead of making your pigs in a blanket with meat, grab a package of vegan hot dogs at the grocery store. The texture is very similar to that of a cocktail sausage or hot dog, and it's super easy to cook these up.

If you're looking for a more intensive alternative, you can also make your own sausages from seitan: a wheat-based vegan meat substitute. While these will not be gluten-free in any capacity and will require extra legwork to season, cook, and prepare for your desired consistency, the meaty chew cannot be replaced by other plant-based alternatives.

There are also options for folks looking to avoid heavily processed meats and meat alternatives, too. You can steam up and season baby carrots with liquid smoke, miso paste, and similar umami-rich ingredients to give your appetizers a more complex profile.

Swap Out The Mini Weenies For Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders with herbs
Chicken tenders with herbs - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

The perfect pig in a blanket has a tough, crisp outer texture and a soft, succulent interior. It's a trait that's also shared with a perfectly fried, hot chicken tender. If you swap hot dogs for fried chicken tenders in your pigs in a blanket, you'll find that you get an extra dose of crunch from the layer of breadcrumbs (or breadcrumb alternative) on the outside of the chicken. Plus, you'll also see a flavor improvement via the herbs used in the fry batter.

Besides getting to enjoy pigs in a blanket without any pork involved, you can also get creative with your dipping sauces. While dijon mustard may have been a common pairing for classic pigs in a blanket, combining your crispy chicken tenders, wrapped in decadent pastry, with honey mustard is absolutely sublime. A spicy aioli could also make up for any lacking spice and take your appetizer to new heights.

Stuff The Weenies Or Hot Dogs With Cheese

Puff pastry on baking sheet
Puff pastry on baking sheet - HungryCat/Shutterstock

Food television icon Rachael Ray knows a lot about upgrading simple dishes. Ray gives her pigs in a blanket a major upgrade by stuffing the hot dogs with cheese. Rather than just cutting the dogs open straight from the package, Ray cooks her weenies on a skillet for some extra crispness and to add something extra to the meal. Then, she stuffed each with an ample serving of shredded cheddar cheese before rolling them in crescent rolls and topping with everything bagel seasoning.

Ray also serves her upgraded weenies with a side of onions -- just like the ones you'd get from a hot dog cart. These onions are seasoned with brown mustard, ketchup, and chili pepper to give it a spicy kick and complement the meaty and cheesy filling of the hot dogs. Not only would this be excellent to serve for a fancy dinner party, but it could also adorn your tailgate spread, too.

Use A Pretzel Dough Instead

Pretzel-wrapped cocktail sausages
Pretzel-wrapped cocktail sausages - Vm2002/Getty Images

The pretzel dough and cocktail weenie combination might seem unexpected, but it is totally worth it. And if you've never made your own homemade pretzel dough before, fear not; you can make a few simple swaps to have Auntie Anne's-style dough at your fingertips. You can instead take store-bought pizza dough, wrap it around your cocktail weiners, and boil it in a bath of baking soda and water before coating it with an egg wash and baking. The baking soda is critical to developing the malty flavor and unique brown color we know and love on our pretzels, and it won't alter the flavor of the wiener tucked inside.

If you want a more homestyle rendition of the recipe, you can make your own soft pretzel dough. We recommend serving it with a mustard dip, like honey mustard or plain yellow mustard, or going deluxe with a side of queso.

Keep Things Easy With Canned Crescent Dough

Crescent roll wrapped weenies
Crescent roll wrapped weenies - Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz/Shutterstock

We will always be big proponents of simple recipes, which is why we love using canned crescent dough for a bunch of different things in our kitchen. This refrigerator item is a staple at most grocery stores, and we recommend always keeping a can within close reach for simple desserts, appetizers, and more -- including these simple pigs in a blanket.

You won't have to worry about keeping your puff pastry cold or handling finicky dough when you have a can of crescent dough. Simply break the can open and pull out the sheet of dough, cutting it into triangles as you need it. Then, roll up your rolls, pop a tray into the oven, and you'll be set to bake according to the directions. Since this recipe is so easy to make and bring together, you can dedicate more time to whipping up the perfect sauce or getting the other components of your gathering ready to go.

Give Your Pigs In A Blanket An Asian Twist With Wonton Wrappers Https://www.tastingtable.com/1515583/creative-Ways-Use-Wonton-Wrappers/

Wonton wrappers on board
Wonton wrappers on board - aniestia n/Shutterstock

A quick stroll in the fresh prepared foods section of the grocery store will show you how many different types of pico de gallos and guacamole are possible. But it will also open up the opportunity for you to try new ingredients, like wonton wrappers. These thin sheets of dough are made with simple ingredients, including flour, water, and salt, and can be steamed or fried into perfect creations. Not only can you use your wonton wrappers for creative desserts or fry it into a chip, but you can also use it to make a variation on a popular Thai street food.

In Thailand, wonton wrappers are wrapped around sausages before the treats are fried and served alongside a sweet chili sauce. To make a batch at home, just trim your sheets into the appropriate side and wrap them around your mini weenies. Pan-frying will surely give you the crispest results, though you can likely also adapt the recipe to an air fryer for a low-oil version.

Skip The Dough Entirely And Wrap Your Pigs In A Blanket In Bacon

Bacon-wrapped pigs in a blanket
Bacon-wrapped pigs in a blanket - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Are they still technically pigs in a blanket if that blanket is a greasy, yet delicious, piece of bacon? While pigs in a blanket purists may frown upon wrapping cocktail sausages in bacon, we're all for it. The salty, umami notes in the bacon will help amplify the taste of whatever cocktail sausage or replacement you use in your recipe.

The best piece of advice we have for this variation is not to skimp on the bacon. You'll need a whole pound for each package of cocktail sausages you purchase. Thick-cut bacon will give you the best flavor and bang for your buck, and you can also buy an applewood-smoked variety to infuse more flavor into your recipe. Before you pop your deluxe meaty treats into the oven, you should also consider sprinkling a bit of brown sugar or maple syrup on top for the perfect caramelization and sweet undertone.

If You're A Pickle Lover, Try Pickles In A Blanket

Pickles in pickling liquid
Pickles in pickling liquid - Bigtunaonline/Getty Images

TikTok has given us tons of recipes -- including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Snack lovers have taken a liking to the viral pickles in a blanket, and we have to add it to our "foods-you-can-stuff-into-other-foods" journal.

The video starts by showing how to spray the pan with olive oil before placing a piece of cheese, like provolone, into it. Then, the user places a pickle from the jar into the center, tucks up the corners, and cooks it in the pan until the cheese is molten brown and conforms to the pickle like a little envelope. Not only do you get flecks of molten cheese with every bite, but you'll also get the refreshing, briny bite of the pickle in there, too. While this recipe might be completely out of the ordinary for many eaters, it shows both how much TikTokers love pickles and the versatility of the "in-a-blanket" class.

Flavor Your Pigs In A Blanket With Honey

Pouring honey onto spoon
Pouring honey onto spoon - BlkG/Shutterstock

We're always looking for simple ways to upgrade our favorite dishes, and that includes searching for any sauces that can help add flavor and boost up our favorite dishes. The best sauce to quickly level up pigs in a blanket is undoubtedly honey. You'll want to add this to the tops of your pastry right before baking it, along with a hefty schmear of Dijon mustard. Then, seal everything off with an eggwash for extra color before baking.

Why is honey the best sauce for the job? Well, it has subtle floral and sweet notes that help carry through the butteriness and flakiness of the pastry below. Plus, combined with the Dijon mustard, it curbs any astringent or sour notes to make for a more pleasurable and balanced eating experience. While maple syrup might be a feasible substitute for folks looking for an animal product-free appetizer, the herbaceous notes of the honey can't be replicated elsewhere.

Pizza-Fy It With Your Favorite Toppings

Pizza ingredients on a table
Pizza ingredients on a table - Floortje/Getty Images

While nothing will replace a greasy, late-night cheese slice from our favorite pizza joint, these pizza-filled pigs in a blanket will have to do for now. Not only do you get the extra boost of protein from the sausage, but you can customize this appetizer with whatever ingredients you have in your fridge. Go for something meaty with pepperoni and crumbled Italian sausage as the filling, or stick with something brimming with veggies and aromatics.

We recommend using store-bought pizza dough for this recipe since it will give you the most similar texture to your favorite slice. Roll the pizza dough thin before slicing it. Schmear in the tomato sauce, add the cheese, toppings, and sausage on the dough piece, and roll it to tuck all of the fillings in tight. If you're a pepperoni lover, you can also gradually add slices to the dough while you're rolling it for a bit of pepperoni in every single bite.

Use Cinnamon Roll Dough For A Sweet Twist

Cinnamon rolls in baking tin
Cinnamon rolls in baking tin - P Maxwell Photography/Shutterstock

The last thing you're probably thinking about when you grab a roll of cinnamon roll dough from the grocery store is to make it into pigs in a blanket. But the sweet-salty dichotomy is something that dreams are made of -- and that we totally recommend using for your recipe.

Naturally, this recipe works best with breakfast sausage, but you could also use another variety in a pinch. Once you have your sausage, unroll your cinnamon rolls and carefully roll it back around the sausage. We recommend leaving it crease-side down to ensure that your roll won't come undone as it bakes.

The icing may not be the best fit for this recipe, but a side of maple syrup for dipping surely is. And if you love cinnamon rolls, you might also try this breakfast hack using pre-cooked sausage and battered French toast instead of the rolls. A couple of minutes in a buttered skillet will crisp up all the edges perfectly. Breakfast is served.

Add A Savory Sprinkle On Top

Plate of appetizers with seasoning
Plate of appetizers with seasoning - Carey Jaman/Shutterstock

Although it's what's inside that counts, going the extra mile and adding an extra savory sprinkle on the outside of your pigs in a blanket is never a bad decision. There are a ton of different seasonings you can add based on the flavor profile of your appetizers. If you're making a plain batch, stick to the flaked sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, or upgrade things with a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning.

Regardless of what you choose, you'll need to ensure that your seasoning sticks to the pastry. The key to ensuring that your toppings will stick is to apply a wash to the top before baking. You might also consider adding an important ingredient to your egg wash: salt. The seasoning will help bolster the flavor and more evenly disperse than if you went with a flaked variety. We prefer using egg wash over melted butter for our appetizers because it gives them a beautiful color and ensures they get perfectly crisp on top.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.