A simple, West Virginia-style hot dog sauce recipe that’s perfect for all your summer cookouts. Whether you call it a hot dog sauce or a hot dog chili recipe, you’ll love this thick, savory beef topping on all your dogs this year.
Fun fact: I love hot dogs. At the cookouts, I’m a hot dog girlie. Don’t mess with the hamburgers, and don’t mess with the BBQ chicken. If there are dogs, that’s what I beeline toward. I don’t like fussy dogs, either. I don’t want it to be too sloppy or too overloaded with toppings. To me, the hallmark of a good dog is one that stays together with zero spillage. I don’t want chili running down my forearms while I’m trying to eat it.
When I was a kid, my Dad and I went to a town in West Virginia where he grew up. We hit up a bunch of different hot dog spots in a hot dog tour of the town. This is when I fell in love with West Virginia hot dogs. The chili (or sauce, depending on where you’re from) is thick. It’s not drippy or soupy, so it stays put in the bun just perfectly.
The toppings are minimal, too. We always ate them with just mustard, beef sauce, and minced onion on top. Some folks add ketchup, but I make mine with just mustard, sauce, and onion.
How to make this West Virginia hot dog sauce recipe:
This hot dog chili recipe is straight from my Dad, who grew up in Clarksburg, West Virginia. As you can see above, he measures with his heart. After a little prodding, I was able to get more exact measurements for this post.
He suggests using what he calls the forgotten legend–Heinz Chili Sauce-for adding that lightly sweet, spicy kick to the sauce. If you can’t find the sauce, use ketchup instead, but it will be a bit sweeter. so you’ll want to use a bit less of it.
Making this is simple:
- Step 1: Brown the ground beef and drain off excess fat.
- Step 2: Cook up the aromatics along with the spices and tomato paste.
- Step 3: Throw the beef back in with the beef broth and chili sauce.
- Step 4: Simmer it. The longer, the better! Start with 30 minutes but let it go low and slow until it’s nice and thick. It should not be soupy!
- Step 5: Dog time! Pile it on your next hot dog, and make sure you warm the buns up so they’re nice and soft!
P.S.: Some West Virginia hot dogs will come with coleslaw on top of the hot dog sauce. My Dad says he’s never had them that way, so it might be a bit regional. Try it with cole slaw on top if want to try a different take on the WV dog!
If you enjoyed this West Virginia hot dog recipe, please rate it below to let me know what you thought! If you liked this West Virginia recipe, make sure you try out my Dad’s pepperoni rolls!
My Dad’s West Virginia Hot Dog Sauce
- Large skillet
- 1½ pounds 85/15 ground beef
- 14.5- ounce can beef broth
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 hot pepper, such as jalapeño or cherry pepper, trimmed and finely minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and finely diced
- 7- ounce can tomato paste
- 1–2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne powder, more or less to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 12- ounce jar Heinz chili sauce or use ½ cup ketchup
- Salt, pepper, and sugar if needed
Brown the beef:
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon for 15–20 minutes until browned and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the cooked beef to a paper towel-lined plate and discard all but 2 teaspoons of fat in the skillet.
Cook the onion and peppers:
- Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add the onion and both diced peppers and cook until softened, about 5–7 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne powder, paprika, and turmeric. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and mash it into the skillet. Cook for 1–3 minutes until it deepens in color.
- Return the beef to the pot and toss to combine.
Simmer the hot dog sauce:
- Pour in the beef broth and add the chili sauce. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar if needed. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes until thick.
- Stir the hot dog sauce occasionally as it cooks. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, add a splash or two of water.
- If the hot dog sauce is too thin, turn the heat up a touch and continue simmering until the liquid evaporates.
- Taste and season once more before serving.
- Serve the hot dog sauce on top of your favorite hot dog. Be sure to warm the buns first! I like to microwave them so they’re soft, but toast or grill them if you prefer. Serve with ketchup, mustard, and finely minced yellow onion on top. Enjoy!