Chili Dog

Favorite SummerGrillHot Dog

American classic chili dog, grilled hot dog on a bun, smothered in ground beef chili sauce, sprinkled with cheddar cheese and onions.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes enough chili for 16-20 hot dogs

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.

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 Cook bacon, onions, ground beef, garlic: 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.

Stir in the ground beef. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned, a few minutes.

When the beef is about halfway browned, stir in the chopped garlic.

2 Add tomato sauce, molasses, broth, spices: Once the beef is well browned, stir in 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 add more cayenne or chili powder if you like things really spicy, but taste first before adding more.

3 Simmer for 30 min or more: Cook the chili 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 the hot dogs: Grill the 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 olive 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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Mexican hot dogs with pineapple salsa and chipotle mayonnaise from Lisa Fain the Homesick Texan

Chili Dog

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

10 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Michelle-Paulette

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

  2. 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

  3. 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!


  4. 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

  5. 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!


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