Best Hot Dog Chili: The Best Chili for Hot Dogs

The best chili for hot dogs is different from the best canned chili you buy for other purposes. I didn’t realize it until I started shopping for this taste test, but hot dog chili (aka hot dog chili sauce) is an entire chili genre unto itself. So what’s the diff? Hot dog chili tends to be less chunky, bean-free, and more like a puree (mmmmm…pureed meat). If you like the sort of chili that comes out of a dispenser at 7-Eleven, you’ll like canned chili for hot dogs, too.  

Most importantly, the best hot dog chili should complement everyone’s favorite encased meat, even if it isn’t necessarily something you’d eat on its own (cough *skyline chili* cough). Still, we tasted these both by themselves and on dogs—Oscar Mayer beef franks, to be precise. The best hot dog chili turns a plain ol’ dog into a satisfying meal. The next time a chili dog craving strikes, reach for one of these. (Or, if you’re looking for a beanier chili or something you can eat on its own, check out our ranking of the best canned chili.)

best chili for hot dogs

Best Unique

Skyline Original Chili

If you’ve never had Cincinnati’s famous Skyline Chili before, I gotta say, it’s a pretty wild ride. Scatology alert: It looks like actual poop. It’s also a little sweet and tinged with spices that make it taste “Christmassy,” as Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling put it. (The can only says “spices,” but dupe recipes online indicate it contains cinnamon, clove, and allspice.) Anyway, if it’s not something you grew up eating (on dogs or spaghetti), it might take a sec to warm up to Skyline, but it’s a pretty solid hot dog accoutrement. Its mild sweetness plays nicely off of the salty, savory flavor of a hot dog. It works. It may not be the best hot dog chili, but it’s definitely the most interesting.

Credit: Merc / Walmart




hormel hot dog chili

Best Cheesy

Hormel Chili Cheese

Hormel has a line of canned hot dog chili now, which is fun. The cans are very cute and nostalgic—major mid-century boardwalk vibes—and they make chili dogs seem very appealing. (I’ll be honest: Chili dogs pretty much always seem appealing to me.) Both of the Hormel hot dog chilis we tried are bean free, which makes them more saucy and easier to eat on a dog. Besides its consistency, the defining characteristic of this particular Hormel hot dog chili is its mellow cheesiness. Beneath the beefiness and spice, you definitely get a creamy American cheese sort of flavor. That flavor alone makes it one of the best chilis for hot dogs.

Credit: Merc / Amazon




best chili for chili dogs

Best of the Best

Hormel Coney Island Chili

“This chili is a nice foil to the salty hot dog,” Justine said when she took a bite of a dog piled with this hot dog chili. This is another bean-free offering from Hormel’s line of hot dog-specific chilis, and it’s the best hot dog chili we tried in our taste test. This one has just a touch of sweetness for balance and a nice oniony undertones. I’d accentuate it with even more chopped onion and a healthy squiggle of yellow mustard. Even though I grew up in New York, I’ve never had a real Coney Island chili dog, so I can’t speak to authenticity, but this is the best hot dog chili at the grocery store.

Credit: Merc / Instacart




Other products we tried: Great Value Hot Dog Chili Sauce, Southgate Hot Dog Chili Sauce, Chef-Mate Hot Dog Chili Sauce,

About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • Tony Packos chili sauce. Clingers Favorite. “Mash”

    • Came here to bring up Packo’s!

  • Skyline only gets a 7.5?! This is outrageous! I am a Ohio native and have no bias at all!!!!

    • It’s not Coney island chili though. It’s the stuff they throw in top of spaghetti

  • Tony Packo’s Hot Dog Sauce is THE best. Hands Down. Hormel is garbage.

  • You might need to travel and see more before commenting on things you can’t compare to. Come to Detroit and eat at the 2 famous Coney Islands in downtown. Everywhere else is a sham.

  • You are depressing. Just make real chili. Anyone who uses canned garbage for their hot dogs, doesn’t have the right to eat them. Go buy a pre-made one at family dollar and, leave it to yourself.

  • Coney Island hot dog chili (coney dogs) are not from NY or Coney Island. They are from Detroit.
    Yes, it is very confusing. Get Chef Josh to spend hours reading about it.

  • Need to add Wolf brand chili without beans made in Texas to that list.💯