Dendritic cells mediate innate and adaptive immune responses and are directly involved in the activation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes that kill tumor cells. Dendritic cell-based cancer immunotherapy has clinical benefits. Dendritic cell subsets are diverse, and tumors can be hot or cold, depending on their immunogenicity; this heterogeneity affects the success of dendritic cell-based immunotherapy. Here, we review the ontogeny of dendritic cells and dendritic cell subsets. We also review the characteristics of hot and cold tumors and briefly introduce therapeutic trials related to hot and cold tumors. Lastly, we discuss dendritic cell-based cancer immunotherapy in hot and cold tumors.