This michigan sauce recipe is a simple chili sauce that slathers over top your hot dogs. Similar to a coney dog, upstate New York calls them michigans. (And, yes, its a lowercase 'm'!)
My cousin who lives in the upper peninsula of Michigan sometimes supplies us with our favorite brand of this hot dog sauce, because it can be really hard to find in the local stores when we're visiting family. And, since I live in Mississippi, I've learned I just need to make my own! So, I read the ingredients label of our favorite canned variety and came up with this michigan sauce recipe that's been a big hit for our monthly meal plans.
What are Michigan Hot Dogs?
I won't even pretend I completely understand the history behind michigans, but I do know I love them. There are differing opinions on what exactly defines a michigan hot dog chili recipe and how it originated (heresay is from a Michigander transplant to New York in the 1920s). We do know it's a hot dog topped with meat sauce, and some say only red hots are used (no thanks!) and the dog is steamed, as well as the bun.
Ingredients in Michigan Sauce
(full printable recipe at end of post)
For any hot dog recipe, you need the franks and the buns. The rest of ingredients are for the homemade hot dog chili sauce, which includes ground beef, or a mixture of ground pork and beef with vinegar, tomato sauce, chili powder and other spices and seasonings.
Hot Dog Sauce Recipe
The process to make this sauce is simple, like sloppy joes. You'll never turn to canned chili again! The general steps are as follows:
- Brown meat in large skillet or pan. Use a potato masher or a wooden spoon to mash into very fine pieces of meat.
- Add the rest of ingredients and simmer.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for the full detailed instructions.
Michigan Hot Dog Toppings
You can top your chili cheese dogs with raw chopped onions, pickle relish, cheese sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, or yellow mustard. Some people like to "bury" the onions under the sauce. If you want to take the meat sauce to the next level, stir in your desired amount of hot sauce. It's not in my original recipe because of my kids, but you will see it in the recipe notes.
- It's best to mash the meat before it's done cooking, while it's still raw. This will help get the meat into the fine tender consistency known for michigan sauce.
- If you have time, instead of browning the meat first, combine the other ingredients in the saucepan and when it comes to a rolling simmer over low heat, add the meat and mash. Continue to simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
- Use lean meat because you will not drain the excess grease. You want it there for flavor.
- This recipe is very versatile. You can add and remove seasonings to your taste. Leave out the brown sugar if you don't want it sweet at all, sprinkle in more chili powder for more spice, stir in hot sauce, use white vinegar instead of cider vinegar, etc.
You could make michigan sauce in a crockpot, but I do not recommend it. The condensation that builds up on the lid will water down the taste and it will be tough to get the meat to the right consistency. You could, however, keep it warm in a crockpot after it's cooked and leave the lid vented.
What to Serve with Chili Dogs
Storage and Leftovers
Store leftovers in a airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. This recipe makes a bunch, so it is great for a crowd. But, if you are just making it for your family it's a good one to portion out for the week then freeze the rest.
More Hot Dog Recipes
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Michigan Sauce Hot Dogs
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 1 ½ cup beef broth , or water
- 2 tablespoons chili powder , more or less to taste
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 12 hot dogs
- 12 hot dog buns
- optional toppings, such as raw onions, shredded cheese, mustard
- Brown pork and beef in large saucepan over medium heat. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash raw meat into tiny pieces before fully browned.
- Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a low boil, turn down heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add more liquid (beef broth or water) if dries out before 30 minutes.
- Cook hot dogs according to preferred method. Top hot dogs in buns with meat sauce and other optional toppings, such as chopped raw onions, cheese and mustard.
- If you have time, you can reverse the cooking steps by mixing all of the ingredients except the pork and beef and bring to a rolling simmer. Add the meat, mash, and continue to simmer over low heat for 1 to 2 hours.
- Take it to the next level by stirring in up to ¼ cup of hot sauce.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only and will vary depending on type of ingredients used and brand of hot dogs and buns.