Detroit Coney Dog with Homemade Coney Sauce

March 25, 2019 (Last Updated: August 13, 2020) - As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

A Classic hot dog is right. The Classic Detroit Coney Dog with Homemade Coney Sauce is so dang tasty and a flavor to chase. Get this excellent recipe here

Overhead picture of Detroit Dog and Homemade Coney Sauce

We are in the thick of our Detroit Style Pizza series and I wanted to take a post and detour to another famous Detroit food… the hotdog. The Detroit Coney Island Dog, or Detroit Coney Dog, is famous in Michigan and in the world of hot dogs. If you haven’t heard of it, fear not. Today we are going to share it all with you. This hotdog and the coney sauce something of legend and lore, but today we are going to demystify it a bit for you and also try out a Homemade Coney Sauce recipe to share with you.

Detroit Dog Basics

A hot dog is a hot dog, right? Think again. The Detroit Coney Dog is a hotdog served in a steamed bun. It is topped with a beanless chili called coney sauce and then topped off with mustard and diced onions.

The beanless chili really is something special with interesting ingredients. Before you get to the recipe, I want you to keep an open mind. I was skeptical at first, but really it was a game changer. Keep an open mind… and heart.

It is preferential that the hot dog in this recipe is of Michigan origin (Koegels is a popular one and so is Dearborn), but not everybody has easy access to them. You can, however, order Koegels online.

I have to give some credit on this recipe, as I looked to the experts on this. I used the Coney Sauce from this recipe, as I really appreciate the depth they went into and their commitment to regional hot dogs!

Origin of the Detroit Coney Dog

According to the Detroit Historical Society, there are hotdogs that go as far back as the early 1900s. They point to American Coney Island as being opened by a Greek Immigrant named Gust Keros in 1917. In fact, most attribute the development of the Coney Dog to Greek and Macedonian Immigrants.

The story goes that immigrants were coming in through Ellis Island and stopping in Coney Island, where many hotdogs were served. Even Nathan’s Famous has roots in that area. At the time, the new word “hot dog” (Weiner in a bun) was not allowed to be on restaurant signage, as it implied there might be dog in the meat, which there was not. So, when people began to eat this product, it became more known as a “Coney Island”.

Immigrants began to spread out and start their own businesses and adopted the word ‘Coney Island’ which eventually morphed into Coney Island Hotdog and to the final destination of Detroit Coney Dog.

If I were to dig deeper, I bet I can find many claims to the first Coney Island Hotdog, but since we are mostly focusing on Pizza in this series, I am not going to go very far down this rabbit hole. I have found that when it comes to food origins, particularly when there is advertising at stake, there are people who fiercely debate and argue about history.

It is worth noting that Detroit does not lay claim to the only regional hot dog in Michigan. There are other styles of regional hotdogs, such as Flint-style and Jackson-style. I tell you what, I would eat them all

The Topping has WHAT in it?

This recipe calls for ground heart and beef suet. Suet is a hard fat found around the loins and kidneys. Heart is what we all have.

Overhead picture of heart meat, ground chuck, and beef suet.

I stated earlier, keep an open mind. If you are not used to eating this, still give it a try. This topping really is great! Still, if you just can’t do it… substitute the good stuff for just more ground chuck.

Spices Added to Meat for Coney Sauce

Choose a Good Hotdog

This is a Detroit dog, so if you are able to find a Michigan made a hot dog, I think you should use that. If not, I would just use the guide to buying hotdogs that I already wrote. I stuck with my Ambassador Original Weiners with natural casings. They have a great snap and the smokiness in the pork really help give a distinct flavor even though the hot dog is swimming in Coney Sauce, mustard, and chili.

Completed Detroit Coney Dog overhead shot on dark plate and topped with onion and oney

I had a really fun time exploring the Detroit Coney Dog and specifically working on my homemade Coney Sauce. Cooking this sauce opened my eyes a bit on what can taste really great and where good flavors come from.

Products I Used In This Recipe


Detroit Coney Dog with Homemade Coney Sauce

Overhead picture of Detroit Dog and Homemade Coney Sauce

The Detroit Coney Dog is historic, classic, and smacks you with awesome flavor. A great hot dog with a beanless chili and topped with onions and mustard. Enough to make my mouth water!

  • Author: Ben Myhre
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 hot dogs 1x
  • Category: Comfort
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Detroit


For Sauce:

  • 1 pound ground beef heart
  • 1/2 pound ground chuck
  • 1/4 cup beef suet
  • 1/4 cup water (plus more)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 6 Crackers
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • yellow mustard

For Dogs:

  • 8 Hot Dogs, Choose quality dogs with natural casings
  • 8 Hot Dog Buns, Steamed if you can


  1. Add suet, beef, and heart to skillet and brown
  2. Once browned, add water, garlic salt, chili powder, cumin, and paprika
  3. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Add water when needed to keep from going dry
  4. While simmering, crush crackers to a fairly fine consistency with a rolling pin or in a food processor.
  5. Grill hot dogs or pan fry with just a little water at the bottom
  6. Once done simmering, mix cracker in coney sauce
  7. Put hot dog in bun, top with Coney Sauce, mustard, and onions


Source for Coney Sauce: MI Cuisine

Keywords: Coney Sauce, Detroit Coney Dog,

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  • Reply
    Dave Liske
    March 25, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Hi Ben … Thanks for the shout-outs; The pics look great, nicely done sir! A lot of people do get queasy when they learn about the beef heart, but as it’s in all three Michigan styles (Jackson, Detroit, and Flint) it’s difficult to get away from there. As to the coney dog’s origins, with both Todoroff’s in Jackson, MI, and Fort Wayne Famous in Indiana both opening in 1914, it’s tough to get a handle on who did it first, particularly since there were probably also others that have since closed. Fargo, eh? My son is a line cook at Sky’s in Grand Forks, where he was going to UND for a while. Small world! I’ll ping you on Instagram, we seem kindred spirits in discovering the histories of recipes and the like. Thanks again!

    • Reply
      March 25, 2019 at 12:28 pm

      I have definitely spent my fair share of time in Grand Forks. 🙂 And the thing about the heart… if I were in Michigan getting the real thing, I would eat it, think it is awesome, and wonder how I could do it at home! I’d never get it right unless I knew about the heart. Also, while I do think it needs the other ground meat, I kinda think I found a secret ingredient for my chili. It is good!

  • Reply
    Pam Greer
    March 26, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    It doesn’t make me queasy at all!! I haven’t had one of these before and they sound amazing!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    I’m always down for a good dog! One of my favorite things to make at summer bbqs. Definitely going to pull out this recipe! Thanks for posting!

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