Classic Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

Coney Island hot dog sauce

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 2 hrs 12 mins
  • Prep: 12 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: Serves 12 to 16

A variety of spices flavor this delicious ground beef Coney Island hot dog sauce. The chili sauce is standard on classic coney dogs, and this version is easy to prepare and cook, and it's delicious. 

The "Coney Island hot dog" actually originated in Michigan, not Coney Island, New York. At least three restaurants purport to have created the famous hot dog, two in Detroit, Michigan and one in Jackson, Michigan.


  • 1 pound ground beef (85%)
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/6 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 to 16 standard hot dog buns (steamed**)
  • For the Topping
  • 1 cup onions (finely chopped, about 1 to 2 tablespoons for each hot dog)
  • Prepared yellow mustard
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Optional: shredded sharp or mild cheddar cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

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  2. In a medium saucepan or deep sauté pan, brown the ground beef; drain well. To the ground beef add the finely chopped onion, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, allspice, ground mustard, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, black pepper, tomato paste, and water.

    Cook the meat
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  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. 

    Browned meat
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  4. Grill, steam, or boil the hot dogs and steam or heat the buns.

    Cook hot dogs
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  5. To assemble: Put a cooked hot dog in the steamed or toasted hot dog bun. Top with about 2 tablespoons of sauce to cover the hot dog. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped onion over the ground beef mixture then squirt a line of mustard the length of the hot dog. If desired, top the hot dogs with shredded Cheddar cheese, mild or sharp. 


  • 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.
  • Standard hot dog buns are used for coney dogs, not New England-style. 

Recipe Variation

  • There's also a Cincinnati version. The hot dog is topped with Cincinnati chili, shredded cheese, mustard, and some chopped onion.