3/12/12

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!)

The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

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I’ve been on the hunt for THE BEST hot dog chili for years. Like, literal Y E A R S, making one recipe after another that have just not hit the mark.

You’re going to think I’m nuts, but what I was after was something like the chili they used to serve at school when I was growing up.

It might have even come from a can but I doubt it because I’m old enough and country enough that our school lunches were actually cooked by actual lunch ladies. Most of whom had big bosoms, cackling laughs, knowing smiles and a genuine love for feeding us rascals. 

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

Whoa… I’m kinda having an epiphany right now. I think… I think I’m like the lunch ladies! As I was just summoning up memories of the many faces from the lunchrooms of my youth – the way they made me feel seen and looked after – I just realized I could have been describing who I try to be for these kids.

Wow. Of all the influential women I’ve been lucky enough to know, I ended up most like the lunch ladies of rural South Carolina circa 1986. Well, if so, it is an honor.

Having teenaged kids for the past many years, I’ve gotten used to – and maybe even look forward to – the revolving door of hungry kids in and out. 

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

Like, for example, when I had EIGHT unexpected visitors Friday after school before the football game. I had just finished photographing the Chicken & Noodles I’d made that day, so I offered it to them and that pot was scraped clean by the time they all left in a whirlwind for the game.

There is nothing better for someone who loves to feed people than to see hungry kids scarfing down something you cooked. Not chips and junk but a big pot of stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. And I love that I can’t go to a school function or local ball game without hearing, “Hey Ms. Mandy!” from a dozen teenagers who don’t worry about looking cool when they see me.

OK, what were we talking about?? Oh, yeah. CHILI. This is a post about hot dog chili, Mandy. Focus. FOCUS!

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

What I liked about the hot dog chili they made in school was that it was very thin and had a fine texture. It tasted more like traditional chili (cumin, chili powder, etc) and not like the ketchup-y, sloppy joe-ish chili I grew up with at home. 

The school chili might have been a little tooooooo thin (seriously, sometimes you had to eat your chili dog with a fork) but I knew I liked it better than the chunky, scrape-the-roof-of-your-mouth variety of chili.

It took some years, but I finally figured out how to get that finer texture. And it ain’t pretty. When I first heard of this method I thought, uhhmmm, no thanks! but I talked with enough people and read enough recipes to finally understand it’s just how you do it. 

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

You don’t brown the ground beef like you do for every other recipe on earth, you mix the raw meat with water and cook it like that. The ground beef will easily and quickly break down into a finely minced consistency that is soft and tender. The first time I did it, my nostrils were jacked up to my cheekbones in a suspicious scowl a la Madame Medusa from The Rescuers (the original and best Rescuers from 1977, that is). 

But it works! It’s brilliant! Cooking the ground beef in water turns it into EXACTLY the consistency I wanted!! Many of you already know this. I didn’t know. I did not know!

You have to use verrrrry lean ground beef because there’s no way of draining the excess oil. You could wait until grease starts to pool in the top of the chili then ladle it off but it’s just easier to start with lean meat (at least 90%).

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

The next step was figuring out the flavor. A lot of the recipes I found had condiments in them (ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, barbeque sauce, etc). I tried many of them because it seemed like a good way to create a sauce but found that I kept ending up in Sloppy Joe territory. 

Then I approached it the way I make traditional chili, using tomato sauce and a lot of cumin but I couldn’t get the sauce right and it always just tasted like taco meat.

After many, many so-so attempts over almost a decade, we sat down to this recipe and I waited to see everyone’s reaction. The reactions were outstanding! The best coming from Mama who said she was surprised how much she liked it! That might not sound like High Praise but Mama doesn’t mince words and isn’t a gushy person. She doesn’t say she likes something unless she truly does (especially not to me). Husband and the kids all agreed. This was The One.

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

I don’t use as much water as most other recipes call for because I don’t really see the point. You have to cook it until it evaporates out soooo… why make a 1-hour recipe into a 4-hour recipe? One hour is PLENTY of time for the flavors to meld and the texture to be tender and saucy. 

I do sauté the onions, garlic and tomato paste. You just can’t duplicate the deep flavors of cooked onions and garlic with powdered spices. And cooking the tomato paste a few minutes gives it somewhat of a roasted flavor that makes the chili taste like it cooked all day. 

Use this recipe to make Chili Dogs (obviously), Chili Cheese Dogs, Chili Cheese Fritos (or tater tots!), Slaw Dogs or Chili Cheese Fries. I usually pop the leftovers in the freezer then reheat it the next time we're having hot dogs OR I cut the leftover wieners into bite-sized pieces then stir them into the chili for a quick lunch later in the week.

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

Recipe for The BEST Hot Dog Chili

hot dog, hotdog, chili, chili sauce, coney island, homemade, best, how to, water, spicy, chili cheese, fries, fritos, walking tacos, tater tots, sonic, recipe
american
Yield: 10 Servings
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!)

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!)

The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 5 M

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 lb lean ground chuck (90/10 or leaner)

Instructions

  1. Sauté onions in oil (just enough to cook them in) over medium heat in a saucepan for 5 minutes or until golden.
  2. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste then stir and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the paste just starts to brown on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add water then stir well to deglaze the pan. Add chili powder and remaining spices then whisk until smooth.
  5. Add ground beef then stir the meat into the liquid with a whisk or fork. Once the meat and sauce are uniformly combined, bring to a low boil.
  6. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove lid then continue simmering, uncovered, for 30 additional minutes or until chili has reached desired thickness.
  8. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

  • You can freeze this in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
  • You can double or triple the recipe just use a wider pot accordingly so the liquid evaporates like it needs to.
  • This recipe can’t be made as-is in a crock pot since the water has to evaporate out for the chili to thicken. If you want to try it, MY BEST GUESS would be to add about 1 1/4 cups water with the ground beef after step 4 (add just enough water so that the meat breaks down when stirred) then transfer everything to a slow cooker then cook on Low for 4-6 hours or High for 2-3.
Keep up with my latest shenanigans by following South Your Mouth!


73 comments:

  1. Sounds good. I may need to try this, but if you really want a good hot dog try it wih sweet cole slaw...

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    1. Wendy, do you have a recipe for sweet Cole slaw?
      Carol

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    2. I boil my hamburger then when its done strain most of the water off and add the rest of your ingredients and cook slow for a hour or so my family loves it

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    3. when i worked at a hot dog place in fla, we had a hot dog called the american dog which had chili and coleslaw topping :)

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    4. is there a nutritional chart for this?

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    5. @Rosalynn, How do you boil the meat? Break it up into smaller pieces out of the pack first? I'm confused on how this works...how do you whisk the meat into the water and it break down? Won't it just boil into chunks?

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    6. Yes, just break it up from the package, the water will break it down, you can use a meat chopper or fork to help

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    7. I use a pastry blender.

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    8. The best way I have found to get a fine crumble with ground beef is to use a potato masher to mash the ground beef into the water. When it is nicely mixed and looks like pink sludge (stay with me now), let it boil until fully cooked and browned. Stir it occasionally using the same potato masher or just using a spoon, this helps it to become a nice fine texture of ground beef.

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    9. Yes yes you've gotta have slaw with a chili dog. Best ever

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    10. I make my hot dog sauce I ate it on hot dogs in school , the first ingredients r added then cook for 1 hour , when the last ingredients r added I let it simmer for 2 hours . I make 5 pounds at a time and put in quart freezer bags it is delicious, but I make my own coleslaw and put on my hotdogs with chopped onions and mustard they r yummy . They r 13 ingredients in my coleslaw

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  2. I just made this tonight!!! Oh M GEEE!! Yumm! It was so good! :)

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  3. I am making it now and man it sure taste great. Thanks for sharing...

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  4. I will try this tonight! I find that cooking the beef at a lower temp helps it to break down to smaller pieces.

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  5. I usually cook up ground beef in water to get a finer texture. Then, drain it and put in bags and freeze. Then, when I want to make chili, spaghetti, or some other ground beef dish, I just thaw one of the bags and add the remaining ingredients.
    I can already tell this Hot Dog Chili is going to be dangerous to my hips!! :)

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    1. Great idea, I once worked in a cafeteria and when the burgers were done on the flat top grill we put them in a container of warm water to keep them moist, who knew

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  6. I run the meat thru food processor right after cooking it. I do this for sloppie joes and for sausage gravy! Recipe sounds great and will try soon!

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    1. Works for taco meat also

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  7. Ever try Nathan's Hot Dogs?? I saw you on QVC, !!!! :) :) :)

    Barbarainnc

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    1. Nathans hot dogs ARE the best...and Kosher too) we always but them, and especially the quarter pound size as we like a plump dog...we also Love Koegal brand, when we "want that Snap...just too skinny...

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    2. Hebrew National are the best hotdogs!

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  8. Mandy, I made this last night and it was delicious. I followed the recipe exactly even though I was tempted to make a couple changes but I decided to see how it turned out first and I'm so glad I did. I've tried a few other hot dog chili recipes from various sites including one from Allrecipes that is highly rated. Even though they all are similar, I have to say this recipe has the right ingredient ratio that just works! The flavors all meld so well. This will be my go to recipes for hot dogs from now on. Thanks again for another great recipe.

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  9. If you really want to up the ante then bake your hot dogs in the bun with your chili sauce, mustard, onions and cheese for 1/2 an hour.

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    Replies
    1. Wow. What an interesting idea! I'm going to try it.

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    2. That’s great, my mom wrapped them in foil and baked. Delish

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    3. I steam my hot dogs in a double boiler then I bake them with cheese n chili then i add commendimets after I get them out the oven .

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    4. Yes! Put them in a 9x13, sprinkle with cheese and bake. Takes them to a whole new level!!!

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    5. Yes! Baking takes them to a whole new level! I know what's on next week's meal schedule. :)

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  10. The recipe I use is the A&W Root Beer restaurant chili sauce recipe. The only thing I do differently is add a splash or two of liquid smoke and hot sauce. Delicious

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  11. Made this and it is some good! I really think I like the texture of it after it has been frozen and reheated.

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  12. Thank you Mandy for posting this recipe. I could never get my chili to come out right every time, no matter how I tried. Now I can. Can't wait to try it!!!!

    Louise

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  13. I am going to try this. It looks just like our A&W coney dogs.

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  14. This is how we prepare the ground beef for Cincinnati-style chili, so I can vouch for the wonderful consistency of the beef cooked this way. Gonna have to try your hot-dog-chili topper during our next camping weekend!

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  15. I just got through making this Hot Dog Chili, I haven't went to the store yet to buy Hot dogs, but I think I want Polish Sausages and a good Hot Dog for this. I can't wait for dinner tonight, This is going to be good, I have also prepared several toppings for these delicious hot dogs for tonight. Thanks for the great recipe.

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  16. So I made this and I love how the liquid breaks down the meat that way but the flavoring was V a little off for me. Coney sauce has a tang so I added Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, a lil sugar, mustard and celery salt. Voilà

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  17. Trina, there are so many great hot dogs that Nathan's need to be on that list. But here are a few that I buy first, in my order of preference. Hofman's (white casing), Sabrett's, Shalene's and Nathan's All made in New York State.

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    Replies
    1. We live between Rochester and Syracuse and we prefer Zweigle's Texas POP OPENS and White POP OPENS. Hoffman's is next with their hot dogs and coneys.

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    2. Yes I live between Syracuse and Binghamton New York and I like the Hoffman Snappy's

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  18. Delicious!!!! Wish I could post a picture!!!

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  19. Will try it , hope it is as good as layfette coney island hotdogs in Detroit, Michigan.

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  20. I do mine the same way with water and uncooked burger. I immediately add it to a crockpot once it’s all combined and “done” for at least an hour on low. It seems to blend the flavors and add a little special touch!

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  21. This is how the B&K stands made theirs - do not pre cook hamburger, cook in the liquid then cook the water off. The best ever "spanish" sauce as we called it!

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  22. I’ve read all the comments but haven’t read anyone address the grease that no doubt is rendered. I don’t have access to leaner beef. Can you give me an idea on how to remove the grease?

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    1. The recipe said to buy the leanest meat you can get. 90/10

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    2. Somewhere in the article leading up to the recipe, it was mentioned to skim the fat as it rises to the surface while boiling if you can't get lean beef.

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  23. I made this for chili burgers. It’s absolutely the best!! Everyone loved it. It’s so good I’m tripling the recipe for chili and crackers. Thanks for sharing!! 5⭐️

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  24. This recipe is spot on, thank you for sharing it!

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  25. Would ground sirloin work for this?

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  26. Yes!! Boiling the meat is the answer. Growing up in Alabama in a family of hot dog connoisseurs we traveled the state stopping at all the renowned hot dog joints. I, too, had a mission to recreate the best ones at home. A good chili dog is hard to beat!! Here is the recipe from one of the best spots in Dothan, Alabama -
    NIP & ERNIE’S HOT DOG CHILI
    From Nip and Ernie’s in Dothan, AL – submitted to “Down Home in High Style” cookbook 1980 by Ernie Edwards.

    1 pound ground beef
    ½ cup water
    3 T chili powder
    Salt and pepper
    Garlic salt to taste
    Put meat in saucepan with water. Add chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
    Simmer 30-45 minutes adding additional water if needed. Serves 8. “Secret” recipe of Nip and Ernie’s Restaurant in Dothan, Alabama.
    *** I found I prefer to add about ½ cup catsup, 2 t Worcestershire, 1 t white vinegar and ½ t dry mustard to this recipe.

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  27. Can I get a clarification please? Are you saying to boil the meat first and then add it to the ingredients ? Or are you saying that the 2 cups of water in the ingredients is enough to boil the raw meat?

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  28. I’m sorry! I’m still a bit confused! The recipe calls for a total of 2 cups of water! Am I using 2 cup of the water to cook the ground beef, and one cup to deglaze the pan? Thanking you in advance for clarification 😊

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    1. Pour in 2 cups water which both deglazes the pan and cooks the meat.

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  29. I’ve been searching as well for a long time this seems similar to what I grew up with at A+W. But I think this recipe is better👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻❤️🙏🏻

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  30. 5 STARS!!!
    I've made this Hot Dog Chili for the First Time and Let me tell you, we are so Happy with this Recipe! Thank you so much for Sharing it with us! I went Straight by the Recipe, used 90/10 Ground Beef, the Flavors come together perfectly and makes it Absolutely Delicious!
    Will no longer be looking or trying out any other Recipes for Chili that is for sure!!!

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  31. I started making this a while back and it is soooo good. Love me some chili dogs!

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  32. I'm from South Louisiana and the town I grew up in had 3 places known for their hotdog sauce. I have recipes from these places and all of them start with water. But a good friend of mine told me you don't have to start the meat in water you just have to mix all of your ingredients together raw and start it cooking. You do need to cook it for about 2 - 3 hrs.
    Anyway, I just used my hot dog sauce recipe and mixed everything together raw. (I cooked 3 lbs. of grnd. meat and froze some) It came out sooo good!

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  33. OMG, you weren’t kidding when you said that this seriously the best hot dog chili sauce! I followed your recipe to a T. The only thing I changed was the amount of cumin. I put in a little less than you called for only because in the past the cumin amounts in recipes were a little overpowering. So I added a little less in this recipe. This chili dog sauce was DELICIOUS!!! Next time I’m going to double the recipe. Thank you for sharing it.

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  34. The trick to a perfect dressed chili dog is... ....dipping the warm dog in the chili sauce then loading in a warm bun...perfect every time

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  35. I've made this at least 5 times now. It's amazing. Love the texture! I'm keto so I cut up hot dogs and add them straight to the chili during the last 30 min.

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  36. My husband daughter have to avoid red meat due to heart conditions, so I made this with ground turkey. Followed to recipe exactly, substituting the ground turkey, and it was perfection! We put it over baked potatoes, topped with shredded cheese and sour cream…amazing! Will definitely be making again!

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  37. gardengirl08302/11/24, 9:11 AM

    I wished I hadn't used 2 teaspoons of salt! Wished I had started with just 1 teaspoon. Otherwise it's great.

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  38. My hot dog sauce is similar to this one and yours sounds delicious. Going to try it. U can cook up to 5 pounds of burger with 1 cup of water and just stir often and it will break up just fine without using anything but a spoon. I've been cooking for 65 years.

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  39. YOU NAILED IT!!!! Thank you Mandy!!

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  40. If you want it thicker, add some american cheese. Keep in mind, this also adds more salt!

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  41. Heidi Mayfield5/1/24, 1:54 PM

    How many servings does the chili recipe make?

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  42. I am a senior citizen (almost 70) and for most of my youth and middle age we went to a local hot dog joint in Harrisburg, PA called The Spot. Their chili dogs, with mustard and diced onions, were legendary and I'll resist going off about the times we went there after an evening of shenanigans to bring home a bag of these beauties. The shop closed and I've always wanted to try to duplicate that chili sauce. I must tell you, this is as close as it needs to be. I think I nailed it first try. I followed your recipe to the letter, although I may have rounded up on the cayenne. The heat is perfect. Thank you so much for sharing!

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Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy