Chili For Chili Dogs

No bean chili for hot dogs in a white bowl.

Wondering what the best chili for chili dogs is? For me, its gotta be easy and gotta be homemade. This easy hot dog chili uses ingredients you probably already have and makes the best chili ever in under an hour!

This beef chili recipe with w/no beans isn’t meant to replace your favorite chili con carne or pot of spicy Sunday football chili.  This chili is meant to be a sauce… a topping… Chili for chili dogs, chili cheeseburgers, or chili cheese fries.  It’s slightly sweet, a little spicy, and makes the best chili ever for your ballpark franks — or whatever your favorite dog is.

ground beef and ice water.

Why you’ll love this hot dog chili recipe

  • It doesn’t need to simmer all day. Instead it’s ready in well under an hour.
  • It’s not as chunky as those chili cook-off winners.  It’s looser and more sauce-like. Perfect for topping a grilled or steamed frankfurter.
  • It has a secret ingredient you’re not expecting, but makes all the difference.  


  • Ground Round – you want a ground beef that has a bit of fat in it. If the beef is too lean, it can clump and won’t be fine enough to top the hot dog as a sauce.
  • Ice Water – this is the secret ingredient to aid in dispersing the meat into smaller, finer mince, instead of clumping.
  • Olive Oil – no need to use a fancy Extra Virgin olive oil.
  • Onion – I use yellow onions, but white or red onion will work as well.
  • Garlic – to season the chili.
  • Kosher Salt – I recommend Diamond Crystal over Morton’s as it’s less salty by volume and great for grabbing a pinch at a time.
  • Cumin – to give the hot dog chili a “chili” flavor.
  • Onion Powder – more concentrated than the sauteed onions, it adds another punch of flavor.
  • Cayenne Pepper – to give the chili a bit of spice and heat.
  • Ketchup – a blend of tomatoes, sugar and spices, it’s a mainstay in chili for chili dogs. We like Heinz.
  • Yellow Mustard – We like French’s – it’s tangy and adds just the right balance to the sauce.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – to add a deeper umami flavor.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – You don’t need much, but it adds enough acidity to balance the sweet, spicy, tangy, and umami flavors.

The ice water adds moisture (duh) but it also prevents the meat from forming into big clumps — definitely not something you want in hot dog chili.  Work the ice water into the ground beef with your hands and let it rest while you prep the other ingredients.

Sweating onions with cumin, chili powder and onion powder.

Saute onions and garlic, then add in the spices and warm them through until they coat the vegetables and the whole pan is fragrant.

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Browning the beef with the onions.

Then add the ground beef/water mixture and cook to brown the meat.  The water adds enough moisture to create a saucy effect and as Scott says, “the beef is just the right texture”.

Adding ketchup and mustard to the ground beef mixture.

Ketchup, yellow mustard, cider vinegar and worcestershire sauce add sweetness and tang to the sauce.  Stir everything together and let it simmer with the lid sitting just askew on the pan so that the steam escapes and the sauce thickens slightly. After the sauce has simmered for about 10 minutes, give it a taste test and adjust the seasoning to your preferences. If you like more heat, add a little more cayenne or some hot sauce – and asian style chili sauce will definitely add fire.  If you prefer a sweeter sauce, a few teaspoons of brown sugar will do it.

The chili after simmering in the pan.

Strain off any excess fat that has floated to the top, or if you’re making it ahead of time, refrigerate this easy hot dog chili until the grease coagulates.  Removing excess fat is even easier with this method, because it’s solid. Warm it up before serving. That’s it.  Your chili for chili dogs (or whatever you want to slather this chili sauce on) is ready to go.


A dish of hot dog chili.

Speaking of chili dogs, you’re gonna want this chili on my ultimate Chili Hot Dogs Recipe very soon!

Chili dogs with onions and cheese.

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A serving dish filled with no bean chili.
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3.94 from 15 votes

Chili For Chili Dogs

Quick and easy no bean chili that’s dynamite on your grilled summer hot dog, burger or fries… Not exactly a health food, but it’s good!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword burgers, chili, condiment, hot dog, toppings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12


  • 1⅓ pounds ground round
  • ½ cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar


  • Add ground beef to a large bowl and pour the ice water over the meat.  Use  your clean hands to mix the water into the beef until it’s completely combined.  Set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sweat them for 2-3 minutes until softened and slightly translucent.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  
  • Add the salt, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and cayenne to the onions and stir until well combined and very fragrant.  Add the ground beef to the onions and cook until browned, breaking up large pieces and stirring constantly.  Stir in the ketchup, mustard, worcestershire sauce and cider vinegar and bring to a simmer.  Place the lid on the pan, slightly askew so steam can be released and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve as a condiment with  hot dogs or hamburgers.



Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 454mg | Potassium: 264mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 340IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1.6mg

“Pin It” For Later!

This easy hot dog chili is a delicious chili for chili dogs. Quick and easy this beef chili recipe w/no beans is ready in about 30 minutes. Best chili ever. #beef #beefchili #hotdogs #hotdogtopping #chilidogs #homemadechili #chilifries #chilicheeseburger #easychili #quickchili #groundbeef #ketchup #mustard

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  1. 5 stars
    Served this atop baked potatoes for the win!

  2. 5 stars
    This packed with flavors chili looks absolutely delicious! This will make a great chili dog and no one would be able to stop eating it!

  3. 5 stars
    This Chili looks like it’s packed with flavor! My husband would definitely love this recipe! Saving!

  4. 5 stars
    Wow, my husband would love it if I made this for him!! He loves chili!! Looks delicious!