For many of us, a “hot dog” really means “chili hog dog.” In Haute Dog, Russell Van Kraayenburg offers dozens of hot dog recipes, from both the United States and around the world. The US versions are often slathered in chili sauce. I have fond memories of Roakes in Portland, Oregon, and I’m always in search of a way to duplicate that secret recipe.

I have not tested this recipe, yet, or its variations that Russell discusses. But below is Russell’s well considered recipe for Classic Hot Dog Chili. It’s a basic recipe that can be transformed into any of the 8 varieties of chili sauce presented in Haute Dog. I invite you to look at the book for the specific details of these variations:

  • Greek: no cumin or cayenne, but with oregano, cinnamon and allspice
  • Coney Island: no cumin or cayenne, instead yellow mustard and tomato sauce instead of paste
  • Rhode Island: adding ground mustard and celery salt
  • Rochester: ground mustard and paprika added
  • District: ground mustard, coriander, a bay leaf, and vinegar

I compared Russell’s basic recipe with others and they all share the same basic ingredients, but, to his advantage, Russell wisely uses real garlic and onion instead of the onion and garlic powders that frequent many recipes. He’s making this chili from scratch and that can only benefit us. Besides this basic recipe, I’ll be trying the variations above, looking for a particularly great taste and perhaps something close to Roakes.

Your childhood memory may be stirred here, recognizing the flavor sparks that mustard or paprika or vinegar added to those neighborhood dogs you grew up with.

My experiments begin this week, and I will report in. One note, Russell says this recipe produces 1 quart of sauce, enough for 4 hot dogs. That’s one cup of sauce per dog. I interpret that as a forewarning, if not proof beyond a reasonable doubt,  that he is a hot dog extremist.


Classic Hot Dog Chili Sauce

Yield: 1 quart of sauce [can be frozen]


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large white onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili power
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 8 ounces tomato paste


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the salt, black pepper, chili powder, cumin cayenne, and beef. Cook until beef is browned and no trace of pink remains.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add beef stock and tomato paste. Stir until evenly combined. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Source: Haute Dog by Russell Van Kraayenburg