Coney dogs are steamed hot dogs smothered with all-beef chili, and topped with minced onions and mustard. The chili is a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. Invented in Michigan, these coney dogs are a real American treat!
Did you think that coney dogs were invented on Coney Island in New York? Me too! That is, before we started our project of dinners featuring famous food from each state in the US. It was in the planning process that I discovered that coney dogs were actually invented in Detroit! And if you as ask anyone from Detroit, they will tell you that there are some very specific requirements for a hot dog to be called a coney dog!
What Makes a Coney Dog?
- Chili Sauce – Depending on where you go in Michigan, you will find some chili that really saucy and other chili that is heavier on the meat. Our chili sauce is the latter. One important element of both types of chili sauce is that they do not include beans!
- Hot Dog with Natural Casing – Traditionally, coney dogs are made using hot dogs with natural casings. Confession: I went to several stores in the area and was unable to find hot dogs with natural casings. But if you can find them, this is a big part of what makes it a real coney dog.
- Soft Bun – Soft, warm buns hold the hot dog and chili sauce.
- Toppings – It’s definitely not a coney dog without the classic toppings of finely minced onions and a drizzle of mustard.
- Traditional coney dog recipes also include beef hearts, but we are skipping that in this recipe. Feel free to add them if you wish. Though I won’t be joining you for that meal.
How to Make Coney Dogs
Step One: Cook the Meat
- The beef, onion, and garlic cook in a skillet over medium heat.
- As it cooks, break up the beef into crumbles.
Step Two: Add the Remaining Sauce Ingredients
- Once the meat has browned, all of the remaining ingredients go into the pan. This includes the seasonings, brown sugar, chicken broth, tomato puree, Worcestershire, and mustard.
Step Three: Simmer, Then Blend
- Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. This helps all of the flavor from the seasonings to infuse with the meat, and makes a really tasty chili sauce!
- Remove the lid and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
- The meat in coney dogs crumbled very finely. If your crumbles are too big you can use an immersion blender to break them up.
Step Four: Steam Hot Dogs
- True coney dogs are steamed and not boiled. If your cookware set came with a steaming basket, simply boil a little water, insert the basket, and place the hot dogs on top, with a lid. Here is a great video that will show this process, along with another way that you can steam your hot dogs.
Step Five: Assemble Your Coney Dog
- Start with a warmed bun, then place a hot dog inside. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of chili sauce over the top. Next, sprinkle some minced onion. Then finish it off with a drizzle of mustard.
- You’ve made yourself a delicious coney dog!
What to Serve with Coney Dogs
I consulted my Michigan friend for this one. She shared that most restaurants serve thinly-sliced French fries alongside their coney dogs. You could also enjoy regular fries, or potato chips.
If you are like me, no hot dog is complete without a pickle spear!
And if you like to add fruit to your meals, applesauce or an orange would be a nice complement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ther are quite a few differences between a coney dog and a chili dog. First, a coney dog is typically made with a hot dog that has natural casings. The second difference is in the chili sauce. Coney dog chili sauce does not have beans. Finally, it is topped with minced onions and mustard.
Like traditional chili, the flavors develop over time so it is wonderful made ahead of time. Simply store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will be good for 3-4 days.
When ready to serve, cook over medium heat until it is heated through (at least 140 degrees). Add additional chicken broth if the sauce needs to be thinned.
Freeze your chili in an airtight container. It will keep 4-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours, then heat following the above instructions.
Related Recipes and Links
- Learn about the history of coney dogs by visiting our Famous Foods from Michigan post
- Paczki is another iconic Michigan food
- Here’s a recipe for the perfect French Fries
If you like this recipe, please share it with your friends! And once you taste it, let me know your thoughts by providing a review.
Coney Dog Sauce
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 10 ounces tomato puree
- 10 ounces chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 8 hot dogs with natural casing
- 8 hot dog buns
- 1/2 cup chopped onions, to serve
- yellow mustard, to serve
- Place ground beef, onion, and garlic in a medium saucepan or a large skillet and cook over medium heat. Use a spoon to break up the meat into small pieces as you stir to cook.
- Once the meat is fully cooked, add in the remaining ingredients (spices, sugar, tomato puree, chicken broth, Worcestershire, and mustard) and stir until all of the ingredients are fully combined.
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and continue to simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, until the chili sauce is thickened to your desired consistency. If you wish for smaller beef crumbles, use an immersion blender to break down into fine crumbs.
- Steam hot dogs until they are heated through, reaching an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Place the hot dogs in warmed hot dog buns. Top with chili, then finish off with diced onions and a drizzle of yellow mustard.