Chili Dog Chili!

A chili dog is a glorious symbol of our American melting pot. It’s got so many elements to it, just like the USA. The German wiener; Mexican chili powder; English Cheddar; and white bread of course because that’s the American way and I better not be seeing no sniveling little whole wheat buns on my picnic table this Fourth of July, no sir!

Chili Dog

A good chili dog deserves nothing but the best. Or nothing but the worst, depending on how junky you like your junk food to be. Honestly, I guess as long as the chili itself is outstanding (see my recipe below!) you could get away with crappy hot dog murder underneath the warm, cozy comforter of chili. Chili dog chili is different than other types of chili. Chili dog chili must be thick and saucy and finely textured to ensure that it will stay packed on and in the hot dog instead of dripping out all over the place and/or turning your bun to mush. This is especially important to note when using extra squishy buns. So, while my dad’s Texas chili recipe is AMAZING, it wouldn’t work well on a chili dog. It’s too chunky, too tomatoey, and the sauce isn’t thick enough.

My chili dog chili recipe was cobbled together from a recipe for Kentucky “Chili Buns” I got from my pal Bruce and a couple of Coney Dog chili recipes I found. It’s more a Texas-style chili than a Cincinnati chili in the seasoning, but the real trick you need to remember is to boil the beef. Boiling instead of browning produces the fine crumbly texture we are looking for, similar to the filling used in these crispy beef tacos.




Chili Dog Chili!

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5 from 8 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 jalapeños, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 12 ounces beer or beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • For serving:
  • 8 hot dogs
  • 8 hot dog buns
  • grated Cheddar, chopped onions, pickles jalapeños, mustard


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add onion. Saute about 1 minute until slightly translucent.
  2. Add garlic and jalapeño, stir and cook 30 seconds.
  3. Lay the beef on top of the onions and add the beer.
  4. Use a spoon to break the meat up in the liquid. Add remaining ingredients, EXCEPT vinegar.
  5. Simmer uncovered 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Taste for salt and if it needs a little perkiness, add the vinegar.


To make a mild chili, use 1/4 cup minced green bell pepper instead of jalapeños

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  1. Gary Lum on June 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Love it

    • Hilah on June 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks, Gary! Hope you can try this, even if you don’t do July 4th. 😉

  2. CurtCole on June 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Exciting! My family is a huge fan of your dad’s chili recipe. I pretty much am required to make it every time I go see them.
    Also, it was one of the few things that brought a smile to my grandfather’s face after my gran passed away in January–so thank you for that.
    I am thrilled that I now have an alternative recipe for things like chili dogs & Frito pie. Thanks again, Hilah!

    • Hilah on June 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Oh, man, Curt. That is heart-warming. Thank you so much for sharing; I am honored to be a part of your story and so glad that my family recipe as now become part of your family’s recipes! Love how that works.
      I hadn’t thought of putting this on Frito pie but I’m sure it would not be terrible. 😉

  3. Great Stone Face on June 26, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for the shout-out, Hilah! I watched your video, then went to a baseball game where I had to have a Ben’s Chili Bowl
    half-smoke all-the-way (chili, onions, mustard, and cheese). While I was there, I read that you’d mentioned me on this blog. Wow! Thanks! Sorry I didn’t read it before I commented! Your spice blend is terrific — I have to try the vinegar addition, too.

    • Hilah on June 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      I need to get one of those chili bowls half-smoke half-whatever. I love the sound of it! Thanks for sharing that recipe with me those few years ago. It really was a great jumping off point for this. I think the vinegar adds a really nice something. Hope y’all like it!

  4. Steven on August 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve become completely addicted to this. This is “meat paste” from the heavens! I’ve made it with ground beef twice, and just recently with skirt steak. After eating it on hog dogs, I’ve eaten it by itself on buns, I’ve put it in tacos, I’ve eaten it in a tortilla wraps (I need to learn how to make my own tortillas). What’s that Louis CK joke? “This is so delicious, I can’t wait to eat the shit I take from eating this!”

    • Hilah on August 13, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Bwhahaha! Wow! You’ve found your “desert island” food, it sounds like, Steven! Thanks so much for writing. I had no idea this chili recipe could be eaten in so may iterations. 🙂
      PS you could learn how to make tortillas here!

  5. Rutager on November 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    More penis songs pls

  6. Great Stone Face on February 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I made your recipe today to bring to a Super Bowl XLVIII party tomorrow. Since my friends and I want to eat it from a bowl, I used a coarsely ground beef instead of a fine-grind hamburger beef. Here it is. My taste test is that it turned out great. Thanks for the after-salting and vinegar suggestions. They really perked it up. Enjoy the game!

  7. Papa D on July 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I’m currently on my maiden voyage to make this chili recipe. My intent is to pressure can it so I have fast & ready chili on the shelf when it’s time for a great chili dog.

    Question for you Ma’am. What kind of buns do you use (on the video)?

    • Hilah on July 19, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Hey Papa D! Good luck canning the chili! I’ve never pressure canned anything. I think used the hotdog buns you can get from the grocery store bakery .. but it’s been so long I can’t be sure.

  8. rick on July 28, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Looks like an excellent chili dog sauce recipe. Thursday (7/30) is national chili dog day. I will have to celebrate. Picked up a pack of Boar’s Head natural casing beef dogs today. Expensive at $7.20/lb, but hopefully worth it..

    • Hilah on July 29, 2015 at 9:40 am

      I bet those will be great. I also buy the crazy expensive Applegate beef hot dogs (I think $9 for 8 dogs!) but they are so delicious.

  9. karl on January 21, 2016 at 6:12 am

    You are so cool; and the chili was also very good.

  10. Jay Jay on April 24, 2018 at 6:05 am

    Used this with pretzel buns and Nathan’s hotdogs and oh my gawd it was absolutely amazing and as far as your pops chili, I thickened it a wee bit with some corn starch and poured it over some wild rice and served it with some cast iron corn bread ooo we it got obliterated haha thank you so much.

    • Hilah on April 24, 2018 at 7:42 am

      Oh man that sounds delicious, Jay!

  11. Janice on May 27, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Great recipe. I will do alil more modifying next time. More chilies because I LOVE spicy haha. Thanks Hilah!!! Easier than my regular recipe and just as good!!!

    • Hilah on May 28, 2018 at 7:24 am

      Hooray! Chili dogs for everyone!

  12. Rich Koehler on February 27, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Excellent recipe also entertaining video

  13. Redteresashoes on January 11, 2023 at 8:27 pm

    This is old school Texas drive in style chili that’s generally served on chili dogs,chili burgers and frito pie. Really close to what I remember as a kid 50 years ago. Nice work!

  14. Lisa V. on July 25, 2023 at 5:40 am

    I am so glad I found your recipe. It came out great! It is actually better than any others, even from a restaurant/stand. Thank you so much.

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