Chili Dog

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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  • Michelle-Paulette

    Be sure to add a sprinkle of celery salt on top.. its a RI thing, trust me. Its good

  • tj nanna

    Sonic the hedgehog will surely love these chili dogs if he was real. I think I will make these chili dogs at home some day.

  • Brook

    I just came upon this web site yesterday and it’s delightful! IKNOW I’ll be browsing it often!

    My son and I operate a hot dog vending business at a local Army base here in Washington state. Our CHILI-CHEESE DOG is our best seller by far …it’s about 75% of our sales. Your hot dog looks similar to ours except for one final ingredient. WE TOP OUR CHILI-CHEESE HOT DOGS WITH CRUSHED CORN CHIPS to add the proverbial cherry on the cake which take it ‘over the top’.

    Have you ever had a SEATTLE DOG? They all come with a fair amount of cream cheese but with variations. (When you make the hot dog, don’t put cream cheese on the bun but put a fair amount on top the dog itself.) Know that they’re always better if the dog and the bun are grilled a bit. We have:

    SEATTLE DOG – Cream cheese, dill pickle spear, diced green onions.

    MODIFIED SEATTLE DOG – Cream cheese, salsa, banana or jalapeno papper slices

    It’s very common to have cream cheese and sauteed onion slices and we’ll be doing that soon ourselves. (Note: Nothing else is added to the Seattle Dogs and certainly not ketchup or mustard.)

    Thanks again for a recipe site that’ll bring me hours and hours of pleasure for a long time to come! BROOK

  • RD

    My family (especially my son) and I have always been chili dog fans. We always used canned chili, no beans. Then a few months ago I tried a recipe for Coney Island hot dog sauce and was hooked. BTW, Coney Island style hot dogs were invented around Detroit, Michigan – go figure. The sauce had a sweet component to it like this recipe. When I saw the picture with this recipe I knew I had to have it.

    I made the chili the Friday before Father’s Day as this was to be my Father’s Day dinner. We had Nathan’s Bigger-than-the-Bun all beef hot dogs, generic regular sized buns, and potato salad from Trader Joe’s. Cooked the dogs over lump charcoal on my Big Green Egg. Had mustard, finely chopped red onion, and shredded cheddar cheese on the side. One of the best Father’s Day dinners I’ve ever had!

  • Jesse

    The picture looks great. I’ll have to try it. Was wondering, I’m assuming you are NOT draining the grease from the beef. Added flavor right? =)

    We are not draining the bacon fat, but you could if you wanted. As for fat from the ground beef, the only ground beef I can find these days is either lean 16% or extra lean 9%. We avoid extra lean because it’s just too dry and flavorless. And with 16% there’s just not enough fat to drain. ~Elise

  • Leah Lenz

    Made this yesterday for our BBQ…simply excellent! I’m known for my regular chili recipe (the kind you eat with a hunk of cornbread). It’s a little spicier and has beans in it, so I thought your recipe would be a little more appropriate for chili dogs. I sure played that one right. Everyone loved it! I’ll be posting about it soon (with accompanying wine suggestions). Yes, some chili dog recipes (like this one) deserve a good wine! Thanks!

  • Tracey

    Where is the cole slaw? Put a scoop of fine-cut, not too sweet cole slaw on top, similar to what folks around here put on BBQ sandwiches. It adds a crunch and a bite that makes the chili-dogs even more messy!!

  • Brian

    There’s only one way to eat a chili dog. Make it a few hours in advance, refigerate it, and nuke it when its dinner time! Man, those homogenous masses of bread, cheese, “meat”, and chili are awesome! Reminds me of college :)

    Whatever floats your boat. :-) ~Elise

  • Robyn

    could you replace beef broth with beer? my husband has completely changed our Memorial Day BBQ menu because of this recipe and pic!

    Hi Robyn, sure if you like the taste of beer. I might use a dark beer if I were making the substitution. ~Elise

  • Gary O.

    Several years ago when my son was a young teenager, we were having chili dogs and kraut dogs for dinner. He told me to try both chili and sour kraut on my hot dog. It sounds disgusting, but the flavor of the two together is out of this world.

  • Alta

    I’m not really a hot dog person. Until you throw some GOOD chili on it (none of that canned stuff). Then I’m totally game! This is making my mouth water.

  • Jerry

    This brings back memories of growing up in SW Ct.
    The dogs were served on a toasted bun with chili, mustard/relish mix,and sprinkled with finely chopped onions, in that order. Boy do I miss them!!
    There was a Hot Dog War. Who had the best chili?
    It was an ongoing battle between the takeout places. The main players were Al’s Dog House and Joann’s Drive ‘In. I was a Joann’s fan myself.
    The Battles would become very intense. The Chili recipes were a BIG secret. I always wanted the recipe(still do)but it was a secret. Your recipe looks good,I must give it a try.

  • kathleen

    Growing up in Ohio, I’ve always been a fan of Skyline’s conies. They put cinnamon, chocolate, and nutmeg in the chili to make it sweet. I crave it all the time!

    Yum, I bet it’s terrific! ~Elise

  • Gloria

    This look really yummy, we make similar but with mashed avocado, xx gloria

  • Framed

    Chili Dogs for the long weekend, here I come! Lately I like them with chopped Vidalia onions, they have a great onion taste without too much of a bite. Thanks for this classic recipe. :)

  • Erica

    This hot dog looks wonderful,Elise!In Colombia we add slaw, pineapple sauce, and other condiments.I love making them, but I have to try your this weekend :)

  • Chandani

    This is the recipe I need to feed my hungry army on memorial day BBQ. And I better double that recipe. Chilli just seems to disappear from the pot. I usually top them with some lettuce and tomato. And as usual except for lettuce and tomato rest of the thing usually are gone. I don’t have to worry about leftover.

  • Abi Jones

    After a few years in DC, I’m convinced that the best chili dog is made with a half-smoke and mustard a la Ben’s Chili Bowl.

    What you might not want to know: while grilling the half-smokes they grab a fryer basket and shake fry oil over the grill. Frightening and utterly delicious.

    Now I’m hungry and there are no half-smokes in California. Dang.

    What’s a half-smoke? Check out this article on half-smokes in the DC CityPaper

  • merd

    Elise, plain and simple – I’ve gotta try this recipe. Love chilidogs. Don’t eatem much, but every once innawhile, you get that craving. Back in Illinois, there’s a place called Velvet Freeze that has these (mouth waters at the thought as I type) “Wonder Dogs” where the aroma and flavor are simply unmatched. They take strips of american cheese (essentially 1/3 plastic sealed slice strip or so) inside a soft steamed bun, topped with their meat chili, a strip of finely chopped onions and a thin line of yellow mustard.
    They sell them by the half dozen. Eating all of them ensured lethargy and a potential gut ache. Oh, the food coma… Very hungry now. I should learn not to read your blog before lunch.

  • Mary

    I adore chili dogs, but I have to confess that my personal favorite is a eating a hot dog alongside a huge plate of chili fries. This could be because chili dog houses around here make a super-soupy chili (almost like a sauce) that dissolves the bun before I finish the dog.

  • Sandy

    Elise, for Viv in Australia, assuming their tomato paste is like ours (in the U.S.), couldn’t she just thin it down with a little water to approximate the tomato sauce?

    Tomato paste is just tomato, concentrated, isn’t it? Tomato sauce has more going on in it. Sure you could probably use thinned down tomato paste. You could even use crushed tomatoes. You could probably even use ketchup. It’s chili, it just needs some tomato somehow. ~Elise

  • matt carr

    Honestly, I just like using leftover sloppy joes on hot dogs. It’s thicker and holds up better on a hot dog than chili, imo.

    That’ll work too. Here’s our sloppy joe recipe which would be great over a hot dog. ~Elise

  • jonathan

    While delicious, this style just seems so…so…West Coast. Give this one a whirl sometime (what we affectionately refer to as a “coney”…as in the island…or even a Texas Weiner, which is strange because Texas sits dead-center between us ;) You can cut the recipe in half (or freeze what’s leftover for later use.
    (and promise me you’re using natural casing hot dogs, ok?)

  • 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

  • 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

  • [email protected]

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

  • 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