Chili Dog

Whoever invented the chili dog, a hot dog in a bun smothered with chili and sprinkled with cheese and onions, should be given a medal. Messy, spicy, filling, did I say messy? Some claim that you can actually eat it with your hands. Maybe, if it’s right off the grill, and you don’t have much chili on it, and the bottom is wrapped in foil or wax paper. If you do attempt such a thing, for goodness sake don’t wear white. I personally have never had much luck with these without utensils, and even then if I’m thinking ahead I’ll tuck a paper napkin in my shirt.

Chili dogs are great for summer cookouts; you can make the chili ahead and all you have to do is grill the hot dogs and buns long enough to get some char marks. They cook up quickly and can feed many, and happily, and are perfect with a tall glass of lemonade, or a frosty beer.

Chili Dog Recipe

The chili recipe makes enough chili for 16-20 hot dogs, which may seem like a lot, but you're just getting a large spoonful with each dog. So, if you have fewer people to cook for, just use the leftover chili as a stand-alone-dish for later. If you're feeding more, just double the chili recipe. You'll be happy you made a big batch. A note on the hot dogs, get the best quality hot dog you can, we tend to look for kosher dogs. The hot dogs themselves only need to be grilled enough to be heated; they are already cooked when you take them out of the package.



  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 16 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp molasses or honey
  • 2 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Salt
  • As many hot dogs as you have people to serve
  • Buns for the hot dogs
  • Chopped red onion, for garnish
  • Shredded cheddar (or jack) cheese, for garnish


1 Make the chili first. Fry the bacon over medium heat until it begins to get crispy, then add the chopped onions and fry over high heat, stirring often, until they begin to brown. Add in the ground beef and stir in well. Cook this, still over high heat and stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned. This will take a few minutes. When the beef is about halfway browned, toss in the chopped garlic and mix well.

2 Once the beef is well browned, add the tomato sauce, molasses and beef broth. Add all the spices except the cayenne and stir well. Bring to a simmer and taste. Add salt or the cayenne if it needs it. You can of course add much more cayenne or chili powder if you like things really spicy, but it’s best to taste first and then add more.

3 Let the chili cook on a gentle simmer for at least 30 minutes before you start grilling the hot dogs. You can cook it several hours if you want to, adding a little more beef broth here and there if the chili gets to dry.

4 Grill your hot dogs over medium heat until they get a light char. Grill the hot dog buns briefly if you want – no more than a minute, as they will burn fast. You can also paint the buns with vegetable oil or butter before grilling if you’d like.

Dog goes in bun, chili goes on top, sprinkle on chopped red onion and shredded cheese, and have at it!

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Chili dog casserole from Framed
Mexican hot dogs with pineapple salsa and chipotle mayonnaise from Lisa Fain the Homesick Texan


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Showing 4 of 27 Comments

  • Rich

    Ms . Bauer,
    I have cooked many of your dishes, and all have turned out wonderfully. Blogalicious. Did I just invent blogalicious? Like, something so good I blogged about it? Please tell me I did. Anyway, they’ve been really freakin’ good. That prefaces my confusion about this chili: does it look like simple ground beef in real life? I mean, the picture looks great and I’d eat that hot dog in a heartbeat, but does the photograph properly represent the chili’s texture?

    Hmmm, the chili looks like the picture. Browned ground beef with tomato sauce and molasses that will make it darker. ~Elise

  • [email protected]

    Don’t forget the slaw! Mustard, chili and slaw for hot dogs! Mmmm.

  • Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    I want want of these RIGHT NOW. I’m not sure we have any bacon, so may have to salt up some pork…hmm. Oh, and no hot dogs around here either, but a bowl of chili is sounding pretty darn good, right about now. Maybe with tortilla chips? I’m sad I missed the lemonade recipe, our lemons are all gone, but I’ll remember for next year (though I often just make a lemonade cocktail and shake the heck out of the sugar, rum & lemon). And you’re right, it makes sense to keep simple syrup on hand. In Japan they use it for ice coffee (well something like simple syrup). Thanks for this post, it’s pure summer.

    Hi Nancy, the chili would be GREAT with tortilla chips. Or french fries. Yum. ~Elise

  • Viv

    Hi Elise,

    I was wondering if you could tell me what tomato sauce is. I’m in Australia and we call ‘ketchup’ tomato sauce; I’m pretty sure that’s not what the recipe wants :) We also have diced (or whole, peeled) tomatoes in cans and bottles of tomato puree, which is smooth, sieved and uncooked pureed tomatoes, also known as passata. We also have tomato paste, which is a concentrated tomato in thick paste form.


    Hi Viv, tomato is like cooked tomato purée but with some added aromatics and spices. It’s usually smooth. Here’s a recipe I have for tomato sauce that isn’t smooth, but you could easily run it through a blender to make it so. Think pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce. ~Elise

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