Scroll to recipe
NomNom Recipes 1

Welcome to the chili dog of my dreams! The thick thawed beef chili sauce that has been simmered for hours is designed to act like a sauce, smothering rather than spreading all over. Fried hot dogs? Skip the cheap soccer francs. Smoked sausage – the way out.
Just think – krenk, sausage, half curd!

This is a great recipe for summer barbecues, game days, or when you need something serious.

NomNom Recipes
Chili dogs – NomNomWow

THE chili sauce for hot dogs….

This is a chili dog inspired by the famous Half-Smoke Chili Dogs at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington DC. The institution is known for its chili served in a variety of formats such as plates, burgers, and chili dogs.

The chili sauce used for hot dogs is different from the chili sauce served in bowls. Noticeably thicker, smoother, and bean-free. Basically, it’s like a thick sauce that stays on hot dogs better than regular chili, so you can scoop it out with your hands.
I’ve always wanted to replicate Ben’s chili sauce. I’ve had a few attempts over the years. Of course you need to cook longer, longer and slower! No, there was no “melted” texture.

The answer came out when I was making lentil soup. partial raid. It unlocks the flavor and thickens the sauce to make it more mellow.
It changed my chili dog game forever. Will it change for you too?

Ingredients in chili dog

Alrighty, first up, what you need to make the chili sauce for hot dogs!


Except for a slightly different spice ratio, the ingredients are no different from my classic chili con carne. And because this chili sauce is soy-free, it’s milder and better suited to hot dogs.

  • Beef mince / ground beef – While this recipe will work with lean beef, it will not have as much beefy flavour. Because most of the good beefy flavour we love is in the fat!
  • Beef bouillon cube (stock cube) – Better than salt! Adds more flavour.
  • Onion & garlic – Essential flavour bases.
  • Tomato paste and crushed tomato – For thickening and flavour of the sauce. By the time all the spices are added in and it’s been slow cooked, you don’t really taste the tomato at all.
  • Capsicum/bell pepper – A traditional inclusion in chili.


My chili sauce does not contain store-bought chili powder. The taste of red pepper powder varies from brand to brand, so I prefer to make my own from scratch. Self-preparation ensures consistency of taste for everyone!

Also, chili powder mixes, while common in the US, are rare in Australia.

No unusual players here. All pantry essentials (here’s my essential spices list, in case you missed it!), the same spices I use in my chilli con carne. However, I use slightly more spices to give the sauce a stronger flavour because less sauce has to go further when it’s used in a hot dog bun compared to serving a big bowl of chili. Am I making sense?? Not sure I’m explaining that well!

Spiciness – There’s a decent amount of cayenne pepper in this to give the chili sauce a spicy kick, as is traditional. Feel free to dial it back. You can just add it right at the end, bit by bit, tasting as you go.


For the best hot dog of your life, ditch the cheap hot dog every day and opt for a delicious German or other European style smoked sausage (Austrian, Polish). please!

Smoked sausage is better than hot dogs! Chili dogs are usually made into economical thin hot dogs. It’s a uniform pink color with 30-40% fillers in my opinion.
Topped with home-made chili sauce, it’s delicious enough. But you can really up your hot dog game with good European smoked sausages like kranksy’s, bockwurst, bratwurst, and “continental francs.” Just ask Ben’s Chili Bowl. Their famous chili dogs use a type of smoked sausage called “half-smoked”.

Why European Smoked Sausage is Good – More meat, less fillings, more flavor, more fattening so you get more sausage!
They’re smoked, so they’re technically cooked, but most are usually served grilled or pan-fried. makes it even more delicious.

Find them easily these days:

  • Kranksy’s – a deli staple at large supermarkets (Coles, Woolies – see here online, Harris Farms). Get the smoked ones, if you can, but even un-smoked are 20x better than the “footy franks”
  • Sausages in packets labelled “Continental Franks” or “Weiners”.
  • German deli – If you are lucky enough to have a German deli in your area, it’s worth a visit because you’ll have an even better selection – and it’s hard to go wrong! Also, other European delis. The Polish and Austrians do wickedly good smoked sausages too.
  • Where I go – Brot & Wurst in Narrabeen, Sydney, which is near my home. My favourite for chili dogs are Bockwurst (pictured above). But all the smoked sausages of theirs I’ve tried (probably most) are great!
  • Hot dog buns – Look for soft, pillowy buns for the hot dogs to nestle in.
  • Yellow mustard – Optional, I guess! For me, a chili dog isn’t a chili dog without a squirt of mustard. I use American mustard – 100% artificial yellow colour, 100% hot dog authentic.
  • White onion – Optional! This is a direct copycat of the way the chili dogs are served at Ben’s Chili Bowl. A little sprinkle of finely chopped white onion brings a hint of freshness in amongst all that moorish, spicy, saucy goodness. I like to use white onion because it’s not as sharp as brown onion. Red onion will also work from a flavour perspective.
  • Cheese – A sprinkle of shredded cheese on a chili dog is fairly common practice but melting is not. But, like good ole’ crispy shell beef tacos, melted cheese wins over un-melted cheese any day. So if you have the option to melt, why would you not?? (Bonus: Cheese melting oven time warms up the bun so you don’t have to do it beforehand plus gives all the flavours a chance to meld together into one cohesive chili-dog-of-your-dreams!)

How to make chili dogs

As I mentioned, what’s slightly unique about the chili sauce I make for my chili dogs is that it’s thicker, smoother, and more “melted” than my regular recipe with larger, thicker pieces of beef. thinner sauce. That’s because it’s designed to look like the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl chili sauce. This sauce is like a thick sauce that stays on a hot dog instead of leaking all over when you take a (big!) bite!

How to achieve this? small offensive.
It releases flavor and thickens the sauce.


  1. Cook chili sauce – The chili sauce starts off like your everyday chili con carne. Sauté onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook the beef until it’s browned, then stir the tomato paste for a minute to cook out the sour raw flavour.
  2. Add everything else – Add all the spices, canned tomato, beef stock cubes (bouillon cubes), salt and water and give it a good stir then bring it to a simmer.
  3. Slow cook 3 hours – Simmer on a really low heat with the lid partially on. A cracked lid allows the sauce to reduce and thicken. Make sure the heat is really low and give it a stir every now and then to ensure the base doesn’t catch. Remember – we’re making a sauce that is thicker than typical chili con carne. It can also be cooked in the oven (160°C / 325°F for 3 hours) or slow cooker (low for 6 to 8 hours) – directions included in the recipe. After 3 hours of slow cooking, the beef should be very tender. Yep, you’ll need to have a spoonful to check!
  4. Blitz to thicken and smooth – Remove 1 1/2 cups of the chili into a container so the head of a stick blender will be submerged under the chili. Then blitz until smooth – it should only take around 15 seconds on high. This will release flavour and also thicken the sauce.
  5. Stir in – Return the pureed chili sauce into the pot and stir well. As you stir, you should find that the slow-cooked beef bits start to fall-apart into really fine pieces of beef to make a smooth-ish, almost molten-like sauce.If your beef doesn’t do this, it will just need a bit of help from a potato masher. Just mash the beef straight in the pot until it becomes a fairly fine texture, like pictured.
  6. Thick sauce – This is what your sauce should look like! Dollop-able but it mounds. Now you get to heap it on your hot dog!


Grill, stuff, smother, bake!

  1. Pan fry or grill your hot dogs / smoked sausages until browned and warmed through. Don’t worry if the skin splits! Visually it doesn’t matter because it will be completely hidden by sauce.
  2. Mustard & onion – Add a squiggle of mustard then sprinkle with onion.
  3. Chili sauce – Smother with a good amount of chili sauce. Appreciate how it’s thick and stays on/in the hot dog instead of running everywhere!
  4. Bake for 10 minutes – Top with cheese then bake for 10 minutes just to melt the cheese. Pull out of oven and start getting ex

When to make chili dogs

Grilling in the backyard, hanging out with friends. Game day, dinner tonight, and anytime. it will be me!!

But seriously.
A good smoked sausage is delicious on its own, pan-fried or grilled and then wrapped in a soft bun.

A thick layer of fragrant beef chili sauce makes it a culinary paradise.

Throw in a blanket of melty, gooey cheese. And behold, friends, this is what food dreams are made of.

Chili dogs

Chili dogs

Welcome to the chili dog of my dreams! The thick thawed beef chili sauce that has been simmered for hours is designed to act like a sauce, smothering rather than spreading all over. Fried hot dogs? Skip the cheap soccer francs. Smoked sausage - the way out.
prep time
20 mins
cooking time
3 hrs 30 mins
total time
3 hrs 50 mins




  • 3 tsp smoked paprika (sub plain paprika)

  • 3 tsp cumin powder

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper , adjust to taste

  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano

  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder

  • ▢1/2 tsp black pepper


  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves , finely minced

  • 1/2 onion , finely chopped

  • 1/2 red capsicum / bell pepper , finely chopped

  • 500 g/1 lb ground beef / beef mince

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • 400g / 14 oz canned crushed tomato

  • 2 beef cubes (I like Oxo, easy to crumble, Note 2)

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 3/4 tsp cooking/kosher salt , plus more to taste


  • 6 good smoked sausages (kransky, bratwurst, half-smoke) or hot dogs of choice (Note 3)

  • 6 hot dog buns

  • 1/2 white onion , finely chopped

  • Yellow mustard (I use Heinz American mustard)

  • 2 cups Colby or Monterey Jack , shredded (or other cheese of choice)

  • Plain crinkle cut potato chips , optional side for serving (traditional!)



Chili Sauce:

Sauté Ingredients - Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic and pepper for 3 minutes.
Brown Beef. Add beef and cook, breaking up until raw meat is no longer visible. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute.
Sauce - Add chives, tomatoes, water, minced beef cubes and salt.

Stir well.

SLOW COOK 3 HOURS - Add chillies, bring to a boil and turn the heat down on a small burner. Cover partially with lid (to reduce sauce). Simmer over low heat for 3 hours (goal: occasional small bubbles). Stir so the base doesn't burn. Or place in oven at 160°C/325°F for 3 hours (lid partially cracked).
Slow Cooker (Note 4) - Reduce water to 3/4 cup. When the chili boils on the stove, transfer everything to a slow cooker and cook over low heat for 6-8 hours.
Thickens the sauce. With the head of an immersion blender submerged underneath the chili, transfer 1 1/2 cups chili to a container. Then beat until smooth (~15 seconds). Pour the puree sauce back into the pot and stir well.
The purpose of the sauce is to stir the remaining beef pieces very tender (not the Bolognese pieces). Beef is very tender. If the beef pieces aren't as small as you'd like, use a potato masher in the pot. It doesn't take long. Chili sauce should be thick and not runny. (Note 5) Keep the sauce warm.
Add Rest Overnight - Chill sauce then refrigerate overnight.
As with most braised stews, the flavor is enhanced! Reheat on stove before continuing.
CHILI DOGS: Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C with convection).
Grill/Pan Fry - Heat 1/2 Tbsp oil (or barbeque) in a skillet over medium to medium heat. Fry the steps on all sides until preheated (already cooked on the inside, it remains only to heat / color).
Assembly - Place the hot dog buns on the tray. Stuff the sausages, top with mustard and sprinkle with onions. Drizzle with warm chili sauce and top with cheese.
Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve immediately. A pile of traditionally simple potato chips and an ice-cold beer!


Servings note: Recipe realistically makes enough chili sauce for 8 hot dogs. But I just don’t know how big your buns will be so prefer to err on the side of caution. Nobody wants to run out of chili sauce! Spice notes: This blend of spices includes a homemade chili powder which I prefer to do because the flavour of store-bought chili powder mixes (in the US) vary from brand to brand. Garlic powder and onion powder can be substituted with more of the other. Cayenne pepper provides the spiciness (chili sauce is SUPPOSED to be a bit spicy!). This amount won’t blow your head off but if you’re concerned, hold some (or all) of it back and add right at the end, little by little. Mustard powder – sub 1 tsp dijon mustard Beef bouillon cubes / stock cubes have more flavour than plain salt. Smoked sausages are my preference over economical hot dogs / “footy franks” – high proportion of fillers! Idea swiped from Ben’s Chili Bowl, they use half-smokes (famous Washington smoked sausages). I use: smoked kransky’s, bratwurst, bockwurst, “smoked wiener” or “continental franks”. Available at German and other European shops, and large supermarkets (Australia). Even the common un-smoked kransky sold at most supermarket deli’s is way better than the cheap hot dogs! Love my local German small-goods shop, Brot & Wurst (Narrabeen, Sydney), their Bockwurst is my favourite for chili dogs. Slow cooker note – While this recipe will work fine in a slow cooker, you just don’t get the same caramelisation around the edges on the surface of the chili like you do with stove and oven cooking, which adds to flavour. I’d say it’s 95% as good in a slow cooker! Oven and stove are just as good. Sauce – If your sauce isn’t as thick as mine, just leave it on the stove on low, stirring regularly, until it reduces and thickens.
You may also like
ArabianBakedCuisineIndianItalianMainsPakistaniQuick & Easy

Lemon Tart

20 mins Cook
What gives this Lemon Tart its exceptional quality? It’s the lemon curd filling. It strikes a harmonious balance between sweetness and tartness, and its custard-like texture effortlessly dissolves in your mouth. This timeless French tart is both elegant and visually appealing, yet its filling is incredibly uncomplicated, consisting solely of eggs, sugar, butter, and fresh lemon!
ArabianCuisineFrenchIndianItalianQuick & Easy

Healthy Creamy Zucchini Soup

20 mins Cook
You don’t require a substantial amount of cream to create a Creamy Zucchini Soup because the natural consistency of cooked zucchini seamlessly transforms it into a rich and velvety soup. This delightful bowl of warmth not only pleases your taste buds but also boasts a modest calorie count of just 220 per generous serving, or a mere 98 calories if you opt to omit the cream!
ChineseCuisineDips and SaucesFrenchIndianItalianKoreanMainsQuick & Easy

Chinese Zucchini Pancakes

20 mins Cook
Chinese food for breakfast? Absolutely! I can assure you that breakfast in Asian countries is far more intriguing than a simple combination of toast and cereal, not to mention much more delightful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ArabianBakedChineseCuisineDessertsFrenchIndianItalianKoreanMainsMexicanPakistaniQuick & Easy

Muesli bars (granola bars)

5 Mins Cook