The Best Hot Dog Chili

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
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This quick and easy Hot Dog Chili is a one-pot wonder, made with ground beef, beans, and savory spices. Perfect for topping chili dogs or chili fries!

Why You’ll Love This Easy Hot Dog Chili:

Hot dog chili is a classic! There’s everything to love about this recipe. Here are a few highlights:

  • Versatile: It adds an extra layer of savory goodness to plain hot dogs, fries, burgers, and more, turning them into a fun, extra-flavorful, ultra-satisfying dish.
  • Easy: This easy-to-make chili is simple to make in one pot, with just a few ingredients.
  • Healthy: Surprised? Don’t be! This simple dish is totally from scratch, and it’s made with wholesome ingredients like olive oil, ground beef, and canned tomatoes.
  • Comforting: Make this on a cold day, and everyone will ooh and ahh! It’s super easy comfort food that you can feel good about serving.
  • A Topping or a Main Course: Don’t feel like making chili dogs? Just make chili! This recipe would be great served as-is with some chips, sour cream, and maybe a bit of cheese. Double the recipe to feed a crowd.

(Looking for a different chili recipe? Take a look at this simple slow cooker chili, or this extra-meaty chunky beef chili!)

Lifting a spoonful of chili from a saucepan.

What’s the Difference Between Regular Chili and Hot Dog Chili?

So what makes this recipe different from regular chili? In a nutshell, it’s about texture and thickness. Regular chili is often chunky, or soupy, or both. Hot dog chili is usually a bit smoother and has a thick, hearty texture so that you can easily spoon it onto other dishes as a topping! It also has a nice balance of flavors so that it won’t overpower other foods. That said, you can still totally serve it as a main dish if you like.

Ingredients for hot dog chili, measured and arranged on a work surface.

What Is Hot Dog Chili Made Of?

So what will you need to make this recipe? Here’s the list of ingredients – and each one is pretty flexible, so you can substitute as needed. (Be sure to see the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts, cooking instructions, and nutrition facts!)

  • Olive Oil: Or another neutral oil, for sauteing.
  • Ground Beef: Or ground turkey, ground venison, etc.
  • Onion: Chopped.
  • Garlic: Minced, fresh garlic is great, but you could also use garlic powder.
  • Seasonings: Chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. You can also use my homemade chili seasoning instead!
  • Brown Sugar: For just a hint of sweetness, I add a spoonful of brown sugar. Honey or maple syrup would also work.
  • Tomato Paste: Make sure to use paste, not sauce – the paste is much thicker and more flavorful.
  • Rotel Tomatoes: You could substitute plain canned tomatoes if you don’t have the Rotel ones.
  • Kidney Beans: Canned kidney beans (or any beans that you like), drained.
Chili dogs on a plate with toppings.

How to Make Hot Dog Chili:

Making your own hot dog chili is a snap! It all cooks up in under 30 minutes, in one pot. Here’s how to pull it together:

  • Cook the Beef, Onion, and Garlic. Break up the beef as it cooks so that you have it fairly fine – you don’t want big chunks in hot dog chili.
  • Add Remaining Ingredients. Stir in the sugar and seasonings, and let those saute for a minute. Then add the tomato paste, Rotel tomatoes, and beans. 
  • Simmer. Bring the chili to a simmer, and let it cook for 15 minutes. It will thicken a bit. (Want to use your Crockpot? See the Tips section for instructions!)
  • Enjoy! Serve the chili as desired.
Two hot dogs topped with chili, cheese, and chopped onion.

Tips and Tricks

Any recipe is better when you have a few tricks and flexible options up your sleeve. Here are my best tips for making hot dog chili at home:

  • Turn Up the Heat: For an extra kick, you can add chili powder, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce!
  • Extra Simmering: You can simmer this chili for an hour or more to deepen the flavors. If it starts to get dry, add some beef broth.
  • Crockpot: If you want to serve this from a crockpot, you can also transfer it to a crockpot once the ingredients are all combined in the pot. Cook it for an hour on HIGH, and then switch it to LOW until you’re ready to serve. 

Serving Suggestions:

Hot dog chili can be paired with so many dishes, toppings, and sides! These tasty serving suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Air Fryer Hot Dogs: Move over, outdoor grill – these air fryer hot dogs might just be my new favorite way to enjoy a classic American hot dog. Top your grilled hot dogs with a generous spoonful of hot dog chili, followed by shredded cheese, diced onions, and a drizzle of mustard.
  • Fries: Serve the chili piled on top of a batch of french fries, or use it for these homemade chili cheese fries with the best cheesy sauce!
  • Baked Potatoes: Take your baked potato bar from “eh” to amazing – just bake up these easy baked potatoes, make a pot of chili, and set out all your favorite toppings. You can also do this with an air fryer sweet potato!
Overhead shot of hot dogs topped with homemade hot dog chili.

How to Store and Reheat Hot Dog Chili

To store leftover hot dog chili, allow it to cool completely, and then scoop it into an airtight container. Refrigerate the chili for 3 – 4 days. To reheat it, just place the desired amount in a saucepan and warm it on medium-low heat on the stove. You can also reheat it for a few seconds at a time in the microwave, stirring each time.

Can I Freeze This?

Absolutely! Like most chili recipes, hot dog chili freezes well. You may even want to make a double batch and freeze half. To freeze it, just cool it down, portion it into freezer-safe containers, and mark them with the date. Freeze for up to 3 months, and thaw the chili in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

More Easy Chili Recipes

Close-up of hot dogs with homemade hot dog chili on top.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 8

The Best Hot Dog Chili Recipe

This quick and easy Hot Dog Chili is a one-pot wonder, made with ground beef, beans, and savory spices. Perfect for topping chili dogs or chili fries!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef, or ground turkey
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2 (10 oz) cans Rotel
  • 1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans, drained

Instructions 

  • In a large heavy bottomed pot, like a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef, onion, and garlic, breaking apart the beef as it cooks, until beef is cooked through and no longer pink.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Cook for a minute to enhance the flavors, then stir in the tomato paste, rotel, and beans, until well combined.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until thickened. (Crockpot: If you want to serve this from a crockpot, you can also transfer it to a crockpot at this point and cook for an hour on high heat. Then turn heat to low until ready to serve.)
  • Serve as desired on top of hot dogs, chili cheese fries, or in a bowl with your favorite chili toppings.

Notes

  • Turn Up the Heat: For an extra kick, you can add chili powder, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce!
  • Extra Simmering: You can simmer this chili for an hour or more to deepen the flavors. If it starts to get dry, add some beef broth.
  • Crockpot: If you want to serve this from a crockpot, you can also transfer it to a crockpot once the ingredients are all combined in the pot. Cook it for an hour on HIGH, and then switch it to LOW until you’re ready to serve.
  • Storing: To store leftover hot dog chili, allow it to cool completely, and then scoop it into an airtight container. Refrigerate the chili for 3 – 4 days.
  • Reheating: To reheat, just place the desired amount in a saucepan and warm it on medium-low heat on the stove. You can also reheat it for a few seconds at a time in the microwave, stirring each time.
  • Freezing: To freeze, cool the chili down, portion it into freezer-safe containers, and mark with the date. Freeze for up to 3 months, and thaw the chili in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 347kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 453mg, Potassium: 940mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 818IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 5mg

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  1. Joe mama

    I ended up using a pound of burger and a pound of hot Italian with green onions and left everything else to recipe… Definitely some badass shitttt…

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For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.