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A classic hot dog recipe straight from Detroit, Michigan. The Classic Detroit Coney Dog with Homemade Coney Sauce is so dang tasty and a flavor to chase. Get ready for a fun hot dog recipe with a remarkable American heritage

Overhead picture of Detroit Dog and Homemade Coney Sauce

🌭 What makes this recipe special?

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 renowned 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 is something of legend and lore, but today we will demystify it a bit for you and try out a Homemade Coney Sauce recipe to share with you.

I might have gone a little overboard with Coney Sauce. Still, I also have a Detroit Style Coney Island Pizza Recipe that you might be interested in. We also have a great guide on grilling brats and a guide on shopping for hot dogs. I love grilling and a good hotdog.

If you are looking for another Detroit classic, check out this Detroit Style Pizza recipe

❤ Ingredients

This recipe calls for ground heart and beef suet. Suet is a hard fat found around the loins and kidneys. I know it sounds like a weird list of ingredients, but it is worth it. Here is a full list of ingredients. 

Ground Chuck, beef heart, and beef suet in glass bowls.
Ground chuck beef, ground beef heart, and beef suet.
  • Ground beef heart
  • Ground chuck beef
  • Beef suet
  • Water
  • Garlic salt
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin powder
  • Paprika
  • Crackers
  • Onion
  • Yellow mustard
  • Hot Dogs
  • Hot Dog Buns

See the recipe card for quantities.

This is a Detroit dog, so if you can find a Michigan-made hot dog, I think you should use that brand. 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. 

Ambassador has a great snap, and the smokiness in the pork really helps give a distinct flavor even though the hot dog is swimming in Coney Sauce, mustard, and chili.

Garlic salt, paprika, cumin, and chili powder.
Garlic salt, paprika, cumin, and chili powder.

The Coney sauce has some interesting ingredients in it. I was able to find the heart just by asking my butcher. Beef Suet was available right in the frozen section of my local grocer, but you likely can also find it at your butcher. 

🍲 Instructions

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). Still, 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. I used the Coney Sauce from this recipe, as I really appreciate the depth they went into and their commitment to regional hot dogs!

🤷 Substitutions and variations

This has some interesting ingredients in it.

  • Ground Heart – I get it. This isn’t going to be for everybody. Of course, you can substitute ground chuck or lean ground beef for the coney sauce. 
  • Hot Dog – While I recommend a Michigan hot dog brand like Koegels or Dearborn, use what you have! 

The sauce makes this recipe special, but if you can’t make it with the heart or whatever ingredients, use what is right for you!

📦 Storage

The sauce will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator and can be frozen. Follow the package for storage rules for the hotdogs you have. We freeze our hotdogs all the time and thaw them as needed. 

🎓 History tidbit

According to the Detroit Historical Society, Detroit Coney hotdogs 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 Detroit Coney Dog’s final destination.

If I dig deeper, I bet I can find many claims to the first Coney Island Hotdog. 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.


What is a Detroit Coney Dog

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.

What food is Detroit known for?

The Detroit Coney Dog is a great Detroit food. There is also a Detroit-style pizza, a rectangular deep dish pizza. Another Detroit classic is a Boston Cooler, ginger ale, and vanilla ice cream.

📝 Tips and tricks

  • Source for Coney Sauce: MI Cuisine
  • calories are my best estimate and will vary by hotdog and buns used.
Completed Detroit Coney Dog overhead shot on dark plate and topped with onion and oney

Products used in this recipe

😋 Did you make this recipe?

Thank you so much for giving it a try! I had a fun time exploring the Detroit Coney Dog and specifically working on my homemade Coney Sauce. You could do me a favor by leaving a review in the comments area below. This helps me know how I am doing and helps others decide if this is their recipe. Most of all, thanks for visiting Ramshackle Pantry!

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Overhead picture of Detroit Dog and Homemade Coney Sauce

Detroit Coney Dog with Homemade Coney Sauce

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 4 reviews
  • 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
Save Recipe


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!


Units Scale

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
  • calories are my best estimate and will vary by hotdog and buns used.


  • Serving Size: 1 hot dog
  • Calories: 527 calories
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Sodium: 1169 mg
  • Fat: 32 g
  • Saturated Fat: 13 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 19 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Cholesterol: 168 mg

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  1. 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!

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. The coney island in Duluth was my gold standard for coneys. The owner was Greek and baklava was on the menu for dessert.
    Snap was key I’m the weiners and raw onions on top, with mustard.

  4. I grew up in Roseville and there was a Coney in the Macomb Mall I have fond memories going there with my mother. I will be making this recipe for 4th of July this weekend. I think I’ll wait to tell everyone there is heart in it.

    Wish me luck.

    1. The restaurant you speak of in Macon Mall is National Coney Island and they grew to several locations.
      The Coney Island Sauce, which I like is National Hot Dog Sauce made in Detroit on Seymore (6 mile) by Van Dyke, if my memory is correct. That sauce was used at; The Dog House, Onassis, Lapuma’s in Rochester and several other restaurants.
      I tried to get them delivered to me in Florida but they don’t ship anything. 😢 because I wanted to start a Coney place in Florida.
      This recipe sounds good except I have never heard of adding crushed crackers to it.

  5. Very good recipe. I altered a little. I sautéed onions and fresh garlic and fried in the talo prior to adding the meat. I also used beef stock instead of water. Super duper good.