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Mama’s Hot Dogs (Recipe: Skillet Hot Dog Chili)

August 31, 2013
by Jackie Garvin

My mother loved hot dogs.  She loved hot dogs better than she loved her luggage.  Not only did she like to order hot dogs in restaurants, she liked to eat them at home.  Chili dogs were her favorite.  Somewhere along  the line, she came upon a recipe for homemade hot dog chili.  From that day forward, she never bought a package of hot dogs without buying a pound of ground beef to make the chili.  Hot dogs and chili were for ever united in our home.

The ease of preparation made this a frequent meal in our home.  We had an aluminum hot dog cooker that would boil hot dogs in the bottom with a slotted tray that fit inside to hold the buns so they could steam at the same time.  Hot dogs and buns in one pot and chili in the other.  Only two pots to clean.  As the dishwasher, I came to appreciate hot dog and chili night, too.

She insisted that mayonnaise had just as much a place on hot dogs as it did on sandwiches. Every hot dog she ate at home had buns coated with mayonnaise. It wasn’t that easy in restaurants.  She usually resorted to requesting mayonnaise packets and applying mayo herself.

Even though the chili contained onions, she believed a proper hot dog should have fresh chopped onions as a topping, also.  I agree with that thought.

She may have added some ketchup as a topper but never mustard. That was just her taste preference.  She liked mustard and used it on other things.  Her hot dogs didn’t need it.

Tonight is the first night I’ve eaten Mama’s hot dogs since she died. I’m making  two just for her.

Y’all come see us!


Skillet Hot Dog Chili ~ Syrup and Biscuits


Skillet Hot Dog Chili

yield: enough chili for 8 to 10 hot dogs

This chili is simple to make but really dresses up hot dogs. Add chili powder to suit your taste. The consistency of this chili is different than chili soup.  It’s meant to be less watery so the hot bun doesn’t get soggy. 

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 pound ground beef

1/4  cup ketchup

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 cup water

3/4 teaspoon salt.

Add a small amount of cooking oil to a hot skillet.  Drop in diced onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions began to softened.

Add ground beef to skillet with onions.  Cook and stir until all pink is gone from the meat. Drain if necessary.

Put ketchup and chili powder  in beef mixture and stir well.  Add water and salt.  Stir  well.  Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve hot on hot dogs.



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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2013 6:14 pm

    Aww, such a lovely post. I grew up without hotdog chili. In Maine, we had toasted buns and the hotdog was cooked on a griddle and the onions were slowly, slowly cooked in salt pork fat and they were served with mustard and relish. I was always the outlaw because I wanted ketchup on mine as well.

    • August 31, 2013 9:42 pm

      Caramelized onions on a hot dog sounds divine! Thanks for inspiration, Maureen. ;)

  2. September 1, 2013 4:49 am

    Nice pic. Love me some ketchup on a chili dog.

  3. September 1, 2013 7:09 am

    Bless Mama! And all mamas who have a hot dog night! These look divine. Thanks for sharing your story. :-)

  4. Danny permalink
    September 1, 2013 10:50 am

    Betty did lay out a mean chili dog….that’s for sure. The steamer pot was a key ingredient to the mix as I see it as there is no better way to eat a dog than with a nice steamed bun. I guess most kitchen’s in our part of the country had one of these boilers/steamers on had an used frequently. Betty’s chili was adopted by mother somewhere along the way because that is the same one I use today….like Mutt and Jeff..they go together!!! Thanks for the wonderful memory of sharing those tasty treats at your table!!!

    • September 1, 2013 4:53 pm


      Did Esther put mayo on her hot dog,too?

      I keep looking on eBay for a vintage hot dog/ bun steamer pot. I wouldn’t use it to boil the hot dogs because I prefer them grilled. But, I sure could figure out something to do with it.

      • Danny permalink
        September 1, 2013 10:26 pm

        Yes we all used mayo on everything…hahaha…well, except biscuit’s…but I would not eat a hot dog or burger without mayo up until about 3 years ago. When I moved to Wisconsin I found they often would eat burgers and dogs with nothing on them…just dry..ugggg…but when condiments were offered it was just mustard and ketchup….so I’ve weaned myself off mayo almost entirely.

        I have looked for a steamer but can’t find one….haven’t looked online much but I’m sure there out there somewhere.

        Oh…I do use chopped onions as well…and 3 dill slices as too!!!

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