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Hot Dog Chili

There's a local joint that that has the best chili hot dogs and my mom absolutely loves them. For her birthday I wanted to make some chili dogs, though am unsure of how to make the chili. Does anyone have a good recipe?

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  1. Every hot dog joint has their own secret recipe, many of them starting (and posssibly ending) with canned chili con carne. Chefmate is best, Hormel and Campbells are also used but not so good. So you could ask the head cook, or figure out what they do yourself. I've heard of adding extra chopped meat, sauteed green peppers and onions, extra kidney beans, extra spices like curry or chile powder. But I'd say most just serve it straight out of the can!

    4 Replies
      1. re: coll

        When I worked at a hot dog joint, we doctored the canned chili heavily. Definitely the cooks added a ton of extra ground beef, plus bay leaf, oregano, probably chili powder and cayenne; and the onions you mention. I don't recall green peppers, and I'm not sure about the beans.

        1. re: Youffraita

          for me I would go to the webite copykat and get the coney island chile dog
          recipe. then you can make as much or little as you want, and thats from scratch
          and no canned chile beans. check it out.

        2. re: coll

          Yep. I was actually shocked at how well Hormel (no beans) does on a hot dog. I add a lot of tobasco (actually, they now sell their canned version with tobasco already in it). I honestly don't spend enough time on it to have good advice on what else to add, though I expect chili powder, cayenne or even some hot salsa would do lovely things to it.

        3. I love, LOVE Tyler Florence's Ultimate Chili Dogs. The recipe is super easy and it is sooo good. I had them on top of pan-friend Boar's Head franks and they were by far the best chili dogs I've ever had.

          If the link above doesn't work, just go to Foodtv.com and search for "chili dogs" and click on the recipe for Tyler's.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gyp7318

            Sounds good. Now if only I could find a really good copy cat recipe of "the works" from Baltimore's Polack Johnny's!

            1. Some canned chili mfrs put out canned chili dog chili...Castelberry's, for one. You can duplicate most with chopped onions, garlic, ground beef and refried beans, seasoned with the usual Mex seasoning (or McCormick's Taco Seasoning if you are lazy). You may have to thin it out a bit. I don't think it will ever surpass "Angelo the Hot Dog King" of my youth.

              1. My local biliards establishment has only a snack bar kitchen. They use the chili from Sam's wholesale that comes in a ca 3 lb white plastic tub. It is sold frozen, not canned. The 2nd or third ingredient (sorry it's been a year since I read the label) is tomato paste, It's decent for what it is, and is the only thing I can stomach off their menu. I go there for Snooker not for chow.

                Canned chili is totally acceptable for hot dog topping, which is a whole different animal than Chili by the bowl. (Canned chili, by the way, has the highest allowable percentage of "insect parts" allowed in the canned meat industry), Wolf Brand Chili is a good one.under the ConAgra umbrella and perhaps distributed nationally now. Hormel is good. Bush has started a chili line, but they charge too much because they put it in a glass jar and consumers think "gee, it must be a higher quality" so they pay more. A jar is just a can. (The insect stat comes from a friend who spent 40 years on the floor at a Hormel factory. Seeing as he was in charge of both production and the floor sweepers, he should know).. I would avaoid the one lb "bricks" sold in the refridgerated section: compare the percent calories from fat and the ingredients with a good canned chili and you'll see why.

                If you are going to add tomato paste to doctor it, be sure to do so ahead of time to cook out the "rawness". Cumin is a standard spice that will bump a recognizable flavor of chili wihout extra heat. Hiding some powdered oregano in there is fun, too. All chilis are best the next day after melding.

                Here in Oklahoma it is quasi-mandatory to offer both cheese and onions as topping to chili from the bowl. (Given that our inimitable state legislature just voted to statutize water melon as the state VEGETABLE, there is probably a chili/onion/cheese bill already in committee, too) An easy and attractive way to make guest feel special with their chili or chili dogs is to offer the onions 3 ways: diced, sliced sorta chunky and long, and then get the real ooohs and aahhs with finely mandolined angelwisps. Also do three different grates on the cheese to balance the triads. Keep both toppings cold until service to hold their distinctly different shapes. For large Dog Events I do the Triad of Triads and offer three different chilis with discernably different sizes of ground meat: a fine, a chunky, and a mixed, with tiny tasting spoons so they can taste all three before dousing their dog. It seems to make the folks really feel pampered.

                3 Replies
                1. re: FoodFuser

                  I enjoyed your post Foodfuser, especially the tidbit about insect parts. The subject of eating insects is fascinating to me for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we consume so many of them without noticing, and to no ill effect.

                  As for a chili sauce recipe, well without having eaten at this local joint there's no way to provide a recipe that izzizzi's mother is sure to like. Some general advice would be to cut onions, garlic, and hot peppers in a very fine dice before sauteeing with the ground beef. A little flour can help soak up excess beef fat and thicken the final sauce. Then goes in the tomato paste and maybe a little ketchup. When the paste is fragrant add your chile powder and cumin, along with some nonstandard spices like a bit of cinnamon, allspice, oregano, and sugar. Beef stock or beer provides the liquid, and you can thicken during simmering by stirring in masa harina or mashed-up pinto beans. This produces a finely-grained sauce that is to my taste on a Midwest-style chili dog.

                  I'd serve with minced onion, shredded cheddar, yellow mustard, pickled jalapeno slices and chopped cilantro on the side.

                  1. re: FoodFuser

                    Since this thread has been revived...

                    Somebody needs to write an academic treatise on "chili" made by Greek immigrants and served atop hot dogs with cheese and onions in the US.

                    I went to high school in Tulsa, OK, where Coney I-Lander is a classic place to have lunch. A "coney" was a tiny dog with soupy "chili" topped with shredded cheddar and diced onions. Extra points for eating at the place on Main Street that featured repurposed school desks from the '30s.

                    Decades later I ended up in Cincinnati, OH, where Skyline, GoldStar, and other chili parlors are local favorites. Same little hot dogs, same shredded orange cheese, same "chili." And yes, they were called "coneys."

                    Is this a phenomenon that is limited to these two cities, or is the coney more widespread? None of these places were well-established before the turn of the last century, but they were firmly ensconced in local culture by the 1930s. What happened, and why?

                    Anyhow, to answer the OPs question, the perfect chili for topping a hot dog is Skyline's frozen or canned product. I can't get the stuff where I live, but can occasionally arrange to have it smuggled in from southwest Ohio.

                    Once the contraband is available, the next question is how to allocate it between coneys and 3-ways. But that's another post.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Hey AB.

                      Cinci chili is great on dogs but is an acquired taste. Both Mrs. Sippi and I love it and make it a stop on our way home from the south.
                      A short history and photos.

                      According to legend, the "Coney dog" was invented in Detroit of all places. Back in the early 20th century a Greek immigrant started American Coney Island in downtown Motown. Coney places are pretty ubiquitous in the Detroit Metro area.
                      More history and pictures here.

                      As for me, not too long ago we tired Tyler Florence's hot dog chili recipe.
                      Both Mrs. Sippi and I found that the ketchup make it far too sweet. We doctored it a bit and made it much more palateable to us. I do think that it makes for a good template and the next time will try bottled chili sauce or slightly thinned out tomato paste.


                  2. We're partial to Wolf Brand Hot Dog chili ourselves

                    1. There are a number of Skyline chili recipes on the web, labeled "authentic," "copycat," "original,' etc, but this one is as close as I can remember the taste to be, and this formula appears to be the most frequently published. Note the absence of beans; they are added as a layer to the 3-way:


                      Oddly enough, coney dogs in NY are known as chili dogs, and the numerous street carts that sell this fare serve up a somewhat soupy canned chili of unknown origin for the topping.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        Not to be pedantic (ever notice that what follows that statement is always pedantic?), but a three-way is spaghetti, chili, and cheese. Add beans and it's a four-way.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          You misread. She said "they are added as a layer to the 3-way" as in, plus the three way, not part of the three way.

                          Just sayin' is all.


                      2. Perhaps, I'm just old and silly, but why should the chili on a chili dog be any less important an ingredient than any of the others? I admit that I have hot dogs about as infrequently as a New Jersey politician turns down an envelope full of money, but when I do, boy, every damn element counts! I'll labor over my choice of dog, preferring to go to the German Bucher 30 minutes away (although Boar's Head has a beef frank with no sugar that I enjoy as well). And you can bet that I know which supermarket in my area sells top split rolls! Good, brown mustard. Vidalias are still around . . . yep, now I'm hungry.

                        As for the chili, well, that's a personal choice based upon the eternal chili questions: Beans or not? How hot? Tomatoes? Hell, even what kind of meat (seriously, try some green pork chili on a dog - you'll see)? One thing is essential, though. You have to make the chili at least 24 hours before you plan to eat the dogs ("How best to cook the dogs?" - now there's another question that's ripe for days worth of discussion . . . ) I submit that chili needs a day of rest to hit its peak. Ultimately, though, bring your A-game chili - you're a 'hound, aren't you, a real food geek, "live to eat" and all that. Get in that kitchen, roll up your sleeves, and start chopping - there's plenty of recipes out there to learn from.

                        "Canned chili, what will they think of next?" he muttered as he gently lowered and shook his head.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: MGZ

                          Until reading this post, it never occurred to me that "chili dogs" were a Greek immigrant thing. I should have guessed when they were made famous in my town by "Angelo the Hot Dog King". Now the question...how did the Greeks get on to chili on hot dogs?

                          1. re: OldTimer

                            The connection between Greeks and Chili in Cincinnati is well known. That style of chili has a distinct Mediterranean taste to it, using spices like cinnamon. And since it often served as a sauce over spaghetti, it would work well as a condiment on hot dogs. Beans are separate in this style.

                            But isn't most hot dog chili more like a bean rich canned chili?

                            1. re: paulj

                              No, no necessarily, certainly not in NYC.

                              The presence of beans may be due to people choosing to use the more popular canned chili with beans on their dogs, rather than the less common canned bean-less variety.

                              1. re: paulj

                                No beans in the hot dog chili (http://tinyurl.com/2wsvkzl) at American Coney Island in Detroit. Nor the "Hot Dog Sauce" (http://tinyurl.com/35la2kr) at Tony Packo's in Toledo, which is a thick chili. Furthermore the chili dogs (http://tinyurl.com/37sqhx7) at The Root Beer stand in Corbin, Ky don't have beans either.


                                1. re: Davwud

                                  any of those Greek Cinncinati flavors in those sauces? Or are they closer to Texas competition stuff in flavor (just chile, cumin and oregano)? The competition style is probably too chunky to work on a hotdog.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Okay, first of all, Tony Packo's is Hungarian so no, no Greek flavours.

                                    Secondly, ACI was invented by a Greek man but seemed to be a right down Broadway chili. Except for heat.

                                    Thirdly, The Root Beer Stand is similar to ACI but had a bit of a garlic kick to it.

                                    Here is a picture of a Cinci Chili pup
                                    Obviously there isn't much to see under that mound of cheese.

                                    You can follow the links I posted upstream (in the reply to alanbarnes) to read more about some of these places.


                                2. re: paulj

                                  The chili dogs that I grew up eating were the coney dogs of Michigan. My parents lived there before I was born and my mother would make coney sauce frequently in the summer to put on our hotdogs. Never were there beans in the coney sauce. She did put beans in the regular chili we ate out of a bowl with crackers.

                                  In my opinion, one place where it seems you can't get a decent chili/coney dog is Chicago. The chili dogs in Chicago all seem to have a thin chili sauce with beans. I guess they worry so much about the 'Chicago dog' that they don't care about a decent chili dog.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    I hear there is a sinkhole in front of Lafayette's in Detroit. I would leap over that thing, trading it for one of these Chicago dogs in a minute. And, yeah, beans were for the bowl, never the dog.

                              2. re: MGZ

                                Ah, see, that's where we part ways. I love good sausage, chili, and cheese. But when the chili dog hankering sets in, I'm not thinking about an artisan wienerwurst on a crusty roll with gourmet mustard, homemade chili, and farmhouse cheddar. I want a grocery-store frank, pillowy flavorless bread, ballpark mustard, and an allegedly meat-based product from a can, all topped a mound of shredded bright orange Colby longhorn. Not proud of it, but I yam what I yam.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  I'm with you, bubba. An Everyman's dish for sure. Veggo recently turned me on to Oscar Mayer Angus bun-length dogs which are quite tasty.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Ah, alan.

                                    If you ever get to Virginia you need to stop in to Skeeters in Wytheville.
                                    Crappy red supermarket dogs, Wonder bread type buns, "Chili gruel", grocery store slaw, mustard and cheese whiz. Put it all together though.......Aces.


                                2. If I have to eat canned chili, it will be Vietti.

                                  1. No beans. And definitely cheese and onions. Slaw always good too.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      I grew up on a no bean chili for hotdogs. It was a bit, I think, specialized to the area I grew up in (there was a sweetness to this chili I haven't found anywhere else). Meat, peppers, onions, celery, sugar, and spices, all reduced to a bath for the dog, topped with the cheapest yellow mustard, cheese and onions optional. And that was all the hotdog stand offered, besides rootbeer made on site and bags of chips made by Caines.

                                      Every summer I try to re-create that chili recipe. I am very close.

                                      1. re: onceadaylily

                                        I grew up a long, long time ago in Atlanta and went to the Varsity. Their "dawg" was IT.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I lived in Augusta for several years . . . and never once had a chili dog. It was all about the fish and chicken. Recently, my memory of a fantastically down and dirty chicken sandwich made me google until I finally came up with . . . Zaxby's. It was a *chain*. How? It didn't even have air conditioning! There were box fans in the windows! And lines out the door.

                                          I had some very tender 'gator tail in Augusta . . . but no chili dogs.

                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                            We went to the Masters in 1993 but didn't have pimento cheese sandwiches which is a classic. They used to have a Varsity in Athens.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I had *just* moved there in '93. Not food-relevant, but funny.

                                    2. My god do I need a chili dog right now.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. If you really like your mom, make the chili with chorizo, onion,and peppers. If you really don't like your mom, make the chili with chorizo, onion, and peppers.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          That's somthing else you taught me and, oh boy, is it outstanding? And if you have any leftover it's great in scrambled eggs the next morning.

                                        2. they're no longer easy to find in manila but my favorite place for this nitrate fix would be ORANGE JULIUS. i'm quite proud of my chili con carne but i've yet to make a chili-dog at home since we haven't bought hotdogs for the past twenty years or so (the only food snobbery practiced in this house)... but there's a ton of ground beef in the freezer... chili cheese burger? oh yeah, gonna have some tonight.

                                          1 Reply