Recipe: Hot Dog Chili Sauce

Recipe: Hot Dog Chili Sauce

I want you to think back to the last chili dog you ate. Not homemade, but the last chili dog you had from a street car salesman, at the fair, or from your favorite hot dog joint. Chances are, chili had a different texture and consistency than the chili you’d eat from a bowl. Well folks, this recipe is just that.

This Hot Dog Chili Sauce isn’t your traditional chili stuffed onto hot dogs. No. This sauce is specially made as a hot dog topping. In this chili, the meat has a finer texture and a thinner sauce, but it still has tons of chili flavor, which makes it perfect for a chili dog.

The delicious chili sauce makes up to 10 hot dogs. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

What makes this Hot Dog Chili Sauce different from regular chili?

For starters, this chili sauce has a much finer texture than the chunky chili made with recipes like my Bloody Mary Chili. And this is because we cook the ground beef for this a little differently than for standard chili. Cooking the meat in liquid breaks it down more, giving us that fine texture we find in hot dog chili.

Starting with lean ground beef or beef loin, like 90/10 or even 93/7, means we don’t have any fat to run away from. If we did, we’d also be taking away a lot of the flavor, so we’ll start with ground beef that isn’t very fat.

What do the proportions of ground beef mean?

In the supermarket you will find proportions on the ground beef such as 70/30, 80/20 and 90/10. These indicate the amount of lean versus the amount of fat in the ground beef. You can usually find them with names:

  • Ground beef is usually 70% lean and 30% fat.
  • Ground chuck is usually 80% lean and 20% fat.
  • Ground round is usually 85% lean and 15% fat.
  • Ground sirloin steak is usually 90% lean and 10% fat.

You may also find labels like “lean” and “extra lean.” The United States Department of Agriculture requires the use of those terms on packaging. Lean means 100 grams of beef (about 3 1/2 ounces) has less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. Extra lean means 100 grams of beef has less than 5 grams of fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

Do I really need to use MSG (Accent) in this recipe?

I’m going to pass this one by the pass… no. You don’t need to use MSG in this recipe. But it won’t taste the same. I understand that some people are concerned about using MSG in food. It occurs naturally in many foods, but I’m not going to argue the point. In this case, it’s used as a flavor enhancer and gives the chili the umami punch it needs – just like my Best ranch dressing recipe. I wouldn’t include it if I thought the recipe didn’t require it, but you’re absolutely welcome to omit it.

Is this recipe really better over?

I know what you’re thinking… “This idiot tells me to serve leftovers.”

Yes. You all know I’m a culinary rebel, right? Well, I actually wrote the recipe to tell you to serve this a day or two after making it. This is why:

Science tells us that in some cases leftover food tastes better. While leftovers sit, a few different things happen. The food begins to oxidize and the proteins in the food release glutamates. Both things help to add flavor. The heating process also makes the food tastier. So in many cases, leftovers taste better than when they are first cooked.

In my opinion, this is certainly the case with chili. So making it a day or two before using it means it will taste better and free up time to cook other things the day of. That said, it’s great the first time too. So you don’t have to make it in advance if you don’t have time to plan ahead. But if you do, you should definitely do it that way.

Can this only be used on hot dogs?

Hot Dog Chili Sauce can be served with crispy fries, baked potatoes, and mac and cheese for a quick chili mac. (Stacey Little / Southern Bite)

While this recipe is made especially for hot dogs, that’s not the only place it can go. We love it with hot, crispy fries and baked potatoes, and Jack has been known to stir some in mac and cheese for a quick chili mac.

Hot Dog Chili Sauce

Serves: 8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or sirloin (90/10 or leaner)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon MSG* (I use Accent brand)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar


  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the ground beef and beef stock. Use the spoon to break the meat.
  4. Cook, uncovered, until the meat is tender. Do not drain.
  5. Add the tomato sauce, garlic powder, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, MSG, and vinegar.
  6. Bring to a boil, then let it simmer.
  7. Cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to your liking.
  8. For extra flavor, make a day ahead, cool and refrigerate overnight in an airtight container.
  9. When ready to serve, add the chili sauce to a skillet or Dutch oven, cover and bring to a boil. Add more stock or water if needed.
  10. Serve hot.


  • Makes enough for eight to ten hot dogs.
  • MSG is not required in this recipe, but it sure makes it delicious.

This recipe originally appeared on For more tasty recipes, check out the website or check out ”The Southern Bite Cookbook.”