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May 12, 2007 11:05 AM

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 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