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
  • Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
110 Calories
7g Fat
4g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 110
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 125mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 20mg 2%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 212mg 5%
*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.)

Although one might instantly place the coney hot dog in Brooklyn, its true origin is in Michigan. The hot dog in general is indeed a New York invention, first sold on the boardwalk at Coney Island—thus the confusion. But coney, in lowercase, is a version of a hot dog with a soupy beef sauce and sometimes other toppings.

Attributed to Greek and Macedonian immigrants who came to the United States via Ellis Island, who learned about the hot dog in NY 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.

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or any vegetable cooking oil)

  • 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 black pepper (freshly ground)

  • 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)

  • Optional:

    1 cup Cheddar cheese (shredded, sharp or mild)

Steps to Make It

Make the Beef Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients
    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, allspice, ground mustard, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, 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 one 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 amongst 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 a 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, coney on a plate will look like a mess.