Classic Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

Hot dog sandwiches drizzled with mustard and sprinkled with grated cheese

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Yield: 12 to 16 hot dogs
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
430 Calories
24g Fat
33g Carbs
20g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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 879mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 3mg 15%
Calcium 123mg 9%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 416mg 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.


Click Play to See This Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce Come Together

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.

"The seasoning in this sauce is fantastic. You get a hint of each spice in each bite, and it’s a great topping with the hot dog. The mustard’s zing, fresh onions, and cheese finish it off perfectly. The recipe makes a lot of sauce, so you’ll likely have leftovers unless feeding a crowd." —Colleen Graham

Classic Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or any vegetable cooking oil

  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably 85% lean

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or 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, or 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, optional

Steps to Make It

Make the Beef Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic Coney Island hot dog sauce recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the beef, stirring frequently, until well browned.

    Ground beef being browned in a skillet and stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Drain liquids and juices from the skillet, but keep beef in pan.

    Browned ground beef in skillet and drained cooking liquid in a small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add onion, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, allspice, ground mustard, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, tomato paste, and water. Stir to mix thoroughly.

    Onion, seasonings, tomato paste, and water stirred into ground beef with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Continue to cook until the sauce is to your desired thickness, up to 1 hour more, but remember that coney traditionally is thin and soupy.

    Ground beef in thickened sauce being stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.

    Skillet with beef mixture covered with a lid

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prepare the Hot Dogs and Buns

  1. Gather hot dogs and buns.

    Hot dogs on a plate next to a pile of hot dog buns

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Grill, steam, or boil the hot dogs.

    Hot dogs in a pot with water

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Steam or toast the buns.

    Split hot dog buns on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Assemble the Coney Dogs

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

    Hot dog filled with beef mixture on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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

    Hot dog filled with beef beef mixture and topped with chopped onion

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Drizzle mustard to your liking over the hot dog. 

    Yellow mustard drizzled on hot dog filled with beef and topped with onion

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, if using.

    Grated cheese sprinkled on top of stuffed hot dog sandwich

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Repeat with the remaining hot dogs.

    Hot dog buns, partially assembled and ready-to-eat hot dog sandwiches on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Tips

  • For a finer textured sauce, pulse the ground beef in the food processor or use a potato masher to mash the beef as you cook it.

How To Store

  • Cook as many hot dogs as you need and save the leftover coney sauce for later. It will keep well when refrigerated in an airtight container for two to three days and can be frozen for two months.

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.