Classic Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

Coney Island hot dog sauce

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 12 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 12 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
430 Calories
24g Fat
33g Carbs
20g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 430
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 9g 43%
Cholesterol 55mg 18%
Sodium 876mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 3mg 15%
Calcium 107mg 8%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 414mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The hot dog—a simple bun and wiener—is a New York invention, first sold on the boardwalk at Coney Island. But coney, in lowercase, is a version of a hot dog with a soupy beef sauce and sometimes other toppings.

Although one might instantly place the coney hot dog in Brooklyn, its true origin is in Michigan. Attributed to Greek and Macedonian immigrants who came to the United States via Ellis Island, learned about the plain hot dog in New York, and then moved up north and west to settle, the coney dog is now a zealously preserved treasure in Detroit, where Greek diners serve it proudly.

Many recipes claim to be the original, with a variety of ingredients having room in the dish. Regardless of the "originality" of the recipe, all coney dogs are as delicious as the next. Our flavorful and spice-filled version is easy to prep and cook, so make bigger batches and freeze for later use. Our complete recipe has the ingredients for the sauce and the instructions for assembling these tasty dogs.


For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or any vegetable cooking oil

  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef 

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 cups water

For the Hot Dogs:

  • 12 to 16 hot dogs

  • 12 to 16 hot dog buns

For the Toppings:

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped

  • Prepared yellow mustard, to taste

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, sharp or mild, optional

Steps to Make It

Make the Beef Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for beef sauce
    The Spruce
  2. In a medium saucepan or deep sauté pan, heat up the olive oil, add the beef, and brown it thoroughly. Once it's well browned, drain the liquids and juices, but keep in the pan.

  3. Add the onion, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, allspice, ground mustard, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, tomato paste, and water.

    Cook the meat
    The Spruce
  4. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally and checking the moisture level. After 1 hour, any additional cooking time depends on how thick or loose you like the sauce, but remember that coney traditionally is thin and soupy. For a finer texture, pulse the ground beef in the food processor or use a potato masher to mash the beef as you cook it.

    Browned meat
     The Spruce
  5. When the sauce has the texture of your liking, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Stir, turn off the heat, cover, and reserve.

Prepare the Hot Dogs and Buns

  1. Once the sauce is ready, grill, steam, or boil the hot dogs.

    Cook hot dogs
     The Spruce
  2. Steam or toast the buns.

Assemble the Coney Dogs

  1. Place a cooked hot dog in the steamed or toasted hot dog bun. Top it with about 2 tablespoons of sauce, or enough to cover the length of the hot dog.

  2. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped onion over the ground beef mixture.

  3. Squirt a line of mustard throughout the length of the hot dog. 

  4. If using, add the shredded cheddar cheese.

  5. Assemble all of the hot dogs.

  6. Enjoy.

What Is the Difference Between Chili Sauce and Coney Sauce?

Despite similarities among the ingredients, chili and coney sauces are actually very different. Let's start with the similarities: beef and some of the spices and vegetables, like cumin and onions.

So what's so different? For one, texture. Coney is more of a condiment than it is a dish. Chili is thick, filling, and can stand as a main on its own; it's spoonable. Coney sauce is traditionally very thin: You should be able to drizzle it on the hot dog, and if spooned on a plate, it will spread everywhere. Chili on a plate will look like a mound, while coney on a plate will look like a mess.