Perfect for cookouts, here’s an easy and oh-so-tasty homemade hot dog chili recipe that you can also freeze. You’ll never buy canned again!
This homemade easy hot dog chili recipe will make you swear off the canned stuff forever.
It’s great on hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage, cheese dogs and hamburgers. Whenever we fire up the grill for a cookout, I always make a extra homemade hot dog chili so we can have some in the freezer for quick meals.This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure policy here.
And what goes better with a big sporting event than a chili-covered hot dog? If you’re gearing up to watch the playoffs or the Super Bowl or planning a March Madness spread, you need to add chili dogs to the menu.
- ❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- 🌭 Hot Dog Chili Ingredients
- 🔪 How to Make Hot Dog Chili
- 💭 Top tip
- 📖 Variations & Substitutions
- Storing & Freezing Leftovers
- Hot Dog Chili & Toppings
- How to Create a Hot Dog Toppings Bar
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Cookout Favorites
- 🎥 Hot Dog Chili Recipe Card & Video
- Homemade Hot Dog Chili
- Variations & Substitutions
- Storing & Freezing Leftovers
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Once you try this scratch hot dog chili recipe, you’ll never buy canned again.
This particular hot dog chili recipe, which you’ll find at the end of this post, uses ketchup, mustard, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce, along with salt and pepper. The combination gives the hot dog chili a tangy flavor.
The recipe is very easy to make, using items you already have in your fridge or pantry. It’s versatilie, too. You can make it ahead of time and reheat when you’re ready to serve. It can also be frozen.
When hot dogs are on the menu, you can keep the rest of the fare pretty simple. Just make sure you provide lots of options for hot dog toppings — chili, onions, relish, slaw and kraut.
Want to see a brief overview of the process before diving into the recipe? Click to watch my web story on how to make the best hot dog chili.
We usually serve chips or fries, coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad with hot dogs. Salted watermelon or mandarin orange Jell-O salad are refreshing and easy dessert choices that go well with hot dogs.
🌭 Hot Dog Chili Ingredients
For this quick and easy hot dog chili recipe, you will need:
- Ground Beef – I like to use lean ground beef for this recipe.
- Onion – Use a Vidalia onion or another sweet variety for this recipe.
- Garlic – You can use finely minced garlic or a garlic press. In a pinch, substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Olive Oil – While the ground beef has some fat, you’ll need a bit of olive oil to saute the onions and garlic.
- Ketchup – We switched to Heinz Simply tomato ketchup and prefer the taste of it to other brands and varieties. It’s my choice for this recipe because it’s less sweet than other ketchup.
- Mustard – Forget the fancy stuff; stick with regular yellow mustard when making hot dog chili
- Worcestershire sauce -You’ll need just a little bit to add some bold, tangy flavor to the chili.
- Chili Powder – This is used for flavoring, not to add spiciness to the hot dog chili.
- Salt and Pepper
🔪 How to Make Hot Dog Chili
I first shared this hot dog chili recipe Today’s Creative Life. In case you missed it there, here are all the details.
In some parts of America, people refer to chili as hot dog sauce. That’s due to the texture, which is much finer than meat-and-beans style chili, which is great from a bowl on a cold day.
This chili is a condiment, like ketchup or mustard, that you spread on top of your hot dogs. So, you don’t want the beef chunky.
The best way to accomplish this is by adding water to the ground beef before you cook it. (I prefer to use lean ground beef.)
It sounds weird, I know, and it’s not the most appetizing image either. But it makes for some mighty good hot dog chili sauce.
Add just enough water to cover the ground beef. Then break the beef up with a wooden spoon. Or, if you’re really gung ho, dig your hands in and break up the meat by letting it squish through your (clean) fingers.
For a beefier flavor, you can use beef broth instead of water to break up the meat.
I let the ground beef soak while I’m sweating the onions and garlic.
Once they’re soft, add the beef and water to the pan and let the meat brown.
Next, add the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, spices and salt and pepper.
Reduce heat and simmer until the chili has reduced and thickened.
💭 Top tip
You can make this hot dog chili right before heading outside to grill, but it’s best if you allow it to simmer so the flavors can meld. The more it simmers, the thicker and more richly flavored the hot dog chili will become.
When we are hosting a cookout or party, I usually make the chili a day or so ahead of time. Then, I’m able to reheat it on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.
📖 Variations & Substitutions
This hotdog chili is so good that I don’t recommend making a lot of tweaks to the recipe. But here are a few variations and substitutions you could try..
- Substitute ground turkey or ground pork for the ground beef.
- For a more beefy flavor, use beef broth instead of water
- If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can substitute ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.
Storing & Freezing Leftovers
If you plan to eat the leftover chili within a few day, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop in a saucepan. You can also reheat it over low heat in a slow cooker.
Whenever I make hot dog chili, I cook a big batch and freeze the leftovers in individual dinner-sized portions. We freeze the leftover homemade hot dog chili flat in quart-size bags for easy storage and thawing.
If you do a lot of freezer meals, these clever bag holders are a great buy. They make easy work of filling freezer bags without making a mess.
Because you can make this hot dog chili ahead of time and freeze it, it’s also good for tailgating. Just throw it in a sauce pan or a slow cooker to reheat. You can also reheat in the microwave.
Hot Dog Chili & Toppings
I’ve found that everybody has a preferred way of topping a hot dog. Some people even have rules about whether the ketchup should go under the dog or on top.
My husband loves his hot dogs served Carolina style — with chili, slaw and onions.
I love to slather this chili on brats with pickle relish and spicy mustard. It’s also great on hamburgers. Messy, but tasty.
What’s your favorite way to top your hot dogs?
How to Create a Hot Dog Toppings Bar
To make sure that everybody gets to have their hot dog their way, it’s always fun to set up a hot dog toppings bar with everybody’s favorite condiments.
Be sure to offer the classic hot dog toppings, like chili, slaw, relish and onions.
But I always add a few unexpected choices, like salsa or crumbled bacon, too.
Popular hot dog toppings and condiments include:
- hot dog chili or sauce
- onions (grilled or raw)
- grilled peppers
- cheddar cheese
- pickle relish
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to readers questions about this recipe.
What goes with hot dogs and chili?
Hot dogs might be America’s favorite cookout food!
I’ve already mentioned a few things you might want to serve on your hot dogs. But what about sides to go with them?
At a cookout, you can’t go wrong with southern-style baked beans, coleslaw and potato salad along with the hot dogs. A fruit salad is another good choice.
Can hot dog chili be frozen?
Yes, I freeze this hot dog chili all the time. I usually put it in a zippered bag and lay it flat in the freezer.
You can also freeze hot dog chili in ice trays for single-serving portions. Store individual servings in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
When you’re ready to serve, just thaw the chili in the refrigerator. Then remove it from the bag and reheat, either on the stove or in the microwave.
You can also reheat it in a slow cooker on low for 2-3 hours. I’d use this method for a potluck.
You can also use a slow cooker to keep hot dog chili warm for serving.
What is the difference between hot dog chili and regular chili?
Hot dog chili is mean to be used as a condiment, and it doesn’t have as many spices or ingredients as traditional chili that is served in a bowl. There are no beans, peppers or tomatoes (other than the the ketchup) in hot dog chili. And the flavor is more tangy than spicy.
More Cookout Favorites
If you enjoyed this recipe for homemade hot dog chili, be sure to check out these other cookout favorites.
- Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs
- North Carolina Style Barbecue
- Mandarin Orange Salad
- Honey & Blue Cheese Kettle Potato Chips
- Southern Baked Beans Recipe
Pin This! The Best Hot Dog Chili Sauce
🎥 Hot Dog Chili Recipe Card & Video
Homemade Hot Dog Chili
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ to ⅔ cup water or beef broth
- 1 medium Vidalia onion or sweet onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely diced
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Place lean ground beef in a bowl and cover with water or broth. Use a wooden spoon or your hands to break up the beef. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, saute diced onion and garlic in olive oil in a large saute pan or Dutch oven.
- Once the onion and garlic are soft, add the ground beef and water to the pan. Cook about 5 minutes, until the beef is no longer pink on the outside.
- Add ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened and reduced and the beef is cooked through.
Variations & Substitutions
- Use ground turkey or ground pork in place of ground beef.
- For a more beefy flavor, use beef broth instead of water
- Substitute ½ teaspoon garlic powder for minced garlic