Sunday, January 8, 2012

West Virginia Hot Dog Sauce

Where I grew up, hot dogs were always served with hot dog sauce - a mixture of ground beef, tomato sauce and spices. I'd never heard that kind of sauce called anything else until I moved to the Deep South. Down here hot dog sauce is called chili. But to my mind, chili is supposed to have beans. Hot dog sauce does not. Aren't regional names for the same thing fun?

Here's what you need:

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/2 onion, chopped (or you can sub minced onion)
1 can(15 oz) tomato sauce
1 1/2 teas chili powder
1 teas salt
1 teas pepper
1 teas garlic powder
1 teas sugar
dash of cayenne pepper (more if you like a little heat)

Place the ground beef and onions in a sauce pan and cover with water.

Bring to a boil, breaking up the meat into small bits. The water helps break down the meat, too, so you end up with a finely ground meat. No big chunks allowed! Cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Drain the water from the pan. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for about an hour until thickened. It will cook down, so add a little water if it gets too thick. You don't want burned hot dog sauce!

It's best to make this sauce a day or so ahead. Just pop in the fridge. The spices have a chance to blend nicely and give a wonderful flavor to the sauce. You can easily freeze into smaller portions, too. Simply thaw in the fridge and heat up in a sauce pan.


  1. I totally remember this!! My dad still makes it!
    I too am from West Virginia, Morgantown Area and have since married and moved to Canada, my husband loves all the food and recipes we whip up from back home!
    I'll be adding this to my list!! And I just know our tummy’s will be thanking you as well!!
    Thank you!!

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  3. I also grew up in West Virginia the Fairmont area. I have a similar sauce recipe. I have short cuts I take. I fry the onions until tender. I also fry my hamburger and drain. I then use my many chopper to grind it super fine. I find it taste better than doing it water first, only my opinion. Then I put all other ingredients cover let simmer. I live in Va Beach now people here have no idea what Hot Dog Sauce is. I make it for get togethers people love it. Then it hits them Hot Dog NOT Chili sauce.

  4. I found your blog because I googled Fairmont style hot dog sauce. I'll have to try your recipe. As a kid, I remember going to Lupo's. My dad's favorite hot dogs were from Yann's. When I visit nowadays, we go to Woody's (formerly B & L) ~ and I like their pepperoni rolls the best.

  5. I'm from Barboursville, WV. Your recipe is a good one but I believe you left out the final ingredient. A hot dog with all the fixins is so much better topped with coleslaw! ! ;)

  6. Loving your posts. W V/Ky here, transplanted to Georgia. Love my hotdog sauce and this is very similar to mine.

  7. Love that you don't "Brown" the ground beef. I simmer mine just barely covered with water..then run through mini food processor.

  8. Donna Kinely, Question... How come you put the meat in a food processor? Does it change the taste, consistency and texture?

    Thanks In advance

  9. I made this recipe to go camping last weekend and it was definitely a hit. Everyone loved it and requested it for our next cookout. From Kentucky here and we call it hotdog sauce not chili.