The Best Hot Dog Chili
No chili dog is complete without the Best Hot Dog Chili! Quick and easy, this homemade hot dog chili sauce is better than anything you’ll ever buy at the neighborhood hot dog cart. Sweet, tangy, meaty….this recipe has a secret ingredient that just makes it explode with epic flavor.
Homemade Hot Dog Chili
Everyone has their favorite comfort foods….the food that you turn to to make you feel good from the inside out. Mine is the Chili Cheese Dog. I don’t know why but I kind of have a love affair with hot dogs….and have since as far back as I can remember.
And you can all keep your lectures about what’s in hot dogs to yourselves. I’m aware…and that’s why I’m super picky when it comes to shopping for my dogs. We’ll talk about that later.
What is Hot Dog Chili?
I LOVE a good chili cheese dog but what makes a chili dog seriously amazing is the actual hot dog chili sauce that’s blanketed on top. It can seriously make or break your dog so it’s best when you take matters into your own hands.
Sure, I’ve topped my dogs with canned chili sauce in the past and I have to say I’m not really a fan so I came up with the very BEST Hot Dog Chili recipe so you, too, can have a seriously epic homemade chili cheese dog. And never leave the house again.
A chili dog is just a hot dog topped with a simple chili sauce, also known as chili con carne. It’s, basically, a chili made without beans. You can top your hot dog with additional toppings like onions, relish, pickles and peppers but classic cheese sauce is my favorite.
How To Make Hot Dog Chili
Homemade Hot Dog Chili sauce is pretty simple to make with easy to find ingredients you may already have in your pantry. To make this the best hot dog chili sauce ever….I threw in a few extra things to amp up the flavor like never before.
To start, I used a lean ground beef and mix it’s with a bit of Italian sausage. I love the sweetness the sausage brings to the party and it just makes people wonder what you put in there that makes it so flipping delish!
Then, I added some aromatics like onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, paprika….and the super secret ingredient that will make you think I lost my mind…..espresso powder. Yep, that’s it.
It totally added another level of flavor that took this chili over the top. I’m even thinking of adding it to my reader favorite Chili recipe that already has won tons of awards!
After all that gets a chance to blend together, I stir in the tomato sauce, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. It’s really the best thing you’ll make all summer that doesn’t require a grill.
My husband ate the rest out of a bowl because we ran out of hot dogs….it’s just THAT AMAZING!
How To Make a Chili Cheese Dog
This isn’t really a recipe for Chili Cheese Dogs but since you’re already here I’ll give you the quick and dirty…..basically, top your hot dog with the homemade hot dog chili sauce…..then top the chili sauce with grated cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese sauce.
Melt it if you want…but I like the cool, creamy texture of the cheese against the chili. AND the chili will actually melt the cheese a bit so you do you.
But, above all, make sure you top a perfectly cooked hot dog!
More Hot Dog Topping Ideas
When it comes to topping hot dogs, the possibilities are endless. You could just make your epic chili cheese dog with the very BEST Hot Dog Chili Sauce or you can go classic New Yorker with a pile of this New York Style onion sauce.
Or go for a classic with this iconic Coney Island Hot Dog!
Take a quick trip to Philadelphia with one of my favorites, Philly style Italian Hot Dogs. Go classic with a little homemade ketchup and a side of pickles. It’s totally your dog your way.
We’re also totally digging these easy Corn Dogs….they’re ready in minutes and sooooooooo good!
But if you’re curious as to exactly what I’m eating on my dog….follow me over on Instagram where I’m sharing just about everything I’m eating lately.
Our Favorite Chili Recipes
- Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chili
- Easy White Chicken Chili
- Turkey and Black Bean Chili
- Or make this amazing Chili Cheese Dip!
Get the Recipe: The Very Best Hot Dog Chili Sauce Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 4 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pot breaking it up into small pieces with a fork. The smaller the pieces, the better your chili will be!
- Continue cooking the meat until browned and no longer pink, approximately 7-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pot and transfer to a large bowl. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat.
- Add the onion to the pot with the reserved fat. Cook the onion for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika and tomato paste to the onion mixture stirring to combine. Continue to cook the onions until the tomato paste turns a deep Burgundy color, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, brown sugar, espresso powder and vinegar. Return the beef and sausage back to the pot and stir to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Check for seasoning again adding salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.
33 Comments on “The Best Hot Dog Chili”
My husband asks for chili dogs at least once a month! I can’t wait to make these next time!
They’re my favorite!
This is such a brilliant idea for a backyard BBQ!
SO perfect for Summer! Can’t wait to make this!
You will love it!
Yum! I am using this for my cookout this coming weekend.
It’s so easy, I know you’ll win over your guests!
With this sauce, I just might eat hot dogs! Love it!
Ha ha ha!!! Well, it’s good on baked potatoes, too.
My fav bbq party eats!!
Mine too! So good!
Homemade is always better! This hot dog chili looks amazing and so easy to make!
It’s so much better than canned and just as easy!
I tried this on company. It was a hit.
Now filed under “keepers.”
I had the chili cheese onion option.
I’m so glad you loved it! I love that it’s easy but not lacking in the flavor department….I’m a cheese onion girl, myself.
I followed the recipe to the T “except” I halved the 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper. I think next time I will cut it again, or even omit it. Otherwise, it was great!!
I’m 65, and have been looking for a great hot dog chili for years. I liked the sounds of this and tried it, following the recipe as close as I could. ( I didn’t have instant espresso powder, so I substituted some really strong coffee. LOL) I LOVED IT!! Told both my daughters and my sister, and they have all made it now, with the same rave reviews. I have since purchased the instant espresso powder, and am about to make it again. It’s definitely a keeper. I just made some cheese sauce to top it with, that turned out really well. I could be eating Nathan’s Hot dogs with chili and cheese sauce for a week. 🙂
Our favorite, too! It took me a while to develop it so I’m happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for your comment!!
We LOVED this! I am a stickler for natural ingredients – so we NEVER buy canned chili or seasoning packets. All of these ingredients are already in my house, so I proceeded. And it was GREAT!!! Really tasted like a commercial chili.
I’m so glad you loved it! It’s a favorite of our’s, too.
What can be subbed for espresso powder? I don’t want to buy it for just this recipe.TY
I’m wondering the same thing.. I’m making it tonight and don’t have that so I’ll just minus it, I guess.
You can just skip it….it’s not imperative that you add it, it just adds extra oomph. BUT you can use Espresso Powder in so many things like our Chocolate Chip Cookies!
The third type of bean out there that you might want to look into is called the “large-mouth” bean. These are often sold as “little bean-shaped chilies” and are very popular with many of the people who are making chili for those who cannot eat too much meat.
Ok, thank you!
I love french fries topped with good chili, and this sounds like it would work amazingly well with a mound of fries!
This would be amazing….we do use it on Tater Tots!
Some good chili and it’s all so better the next day
Thank you so much!
I’ve been using coffee and kahlua in my chili for years. It adds a complexity that compliments the beef very well. Italian sausage (hot or mild) mixed with the beef is also a must. If you don’t have espresso powder (which I’ve never tried) go with about 4 oz of strong brewed coffee and 1 oz of kahlua with this recipe and you won’t go wrong. With hot dogs, I like to really mince my meat finely and certainly no beans added to the hot dog chili unless I am making it for serving the chili also as a side dish or entree. Dr. Pepper Baked Beans (google search for recipes) makes a fine side dish to add for these no-bean chili dogs.
I’ll be making this recipe tomorrow kind-of-as-is, except with my above substitute for the espresso powder and also will most likely reduce the brown sugar a bit since the Kahlua is also fairly sweet. Looks like a winner to me since it is very close to how I normally make my base chili. Not so sure about the apple cider vinegar, but will add to taste. I guess I can’t rate the recipe as-is since I am substituting, so I won’t, but I am sure it is very close to 5 stars.
Great tips! I’ll definitely give your version a try.