Essentially Detroit style coney dogs consist of a steamed hotdog with a natural casing nestled into a soft bun and is topped with seasoned (no-bean) beef chili, yellow mustard and finely diced white onion. Yields 8 coney dogs in about 40 minutes.
Flint or Detroit Style?
This is a question we’re often asked when ordering a coney dog in a Metro-Detroit Coney Island. Obviously Flint and Detroit are cities here in the southeast region of the mitten state, but it’s also different ways you can order a coney dog.
What is the difference between Flint and Detroit style Coney?
Flint is a dry or loose beef topped hotdog with mustard and onion. Detroit-style is a chili topped hot dog also with mustard and onion. However both use Koegel’s Viennas and soft white hotdog buns. At most Coney Islands, you can usually order either. And in Michigan, we have plenty of coney restaurants to choose from.
Personally, I’ll take two steamed hotdogs topped with the creamy-tomato-based-no-bean chili, mustard and finely minced onions over a Flint-style any day. Oh and a side of chili cheese fries. Naturally.
To Make These Detroit Style Coney Dogs You Will Need:
- ground beef
- white onion
- fresh garlic
- tomato puree
- yellow mustard
- regular chili powder
- kosher salt (or to taste)
- ground cumin
- smoked paprika
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- freshly ground black pepper
- a few pinches of sugar
Traditionally some (not all) coney islands use beef heart and suet. These are things I don’t have access to nor do I want to. So I go the ground beef route.
To start, add the pound of ground beef (I use 85/15), 1 cup diced white onions (save the remaining onion for serving later) and 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic into a medium pot or small dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, using a wooden spatula to break up the meat into small crumbles. Continue to cook until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are tender. About 10 to 12 mintues.
Now’s the time to add all the spices. Measure and add in 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 3/4 teaspoon of paprika plus 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of onion and garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper. Add a few shakes of cayenne and a few pinches of sugar.
Stir and add in 1 (15 ounce) can of tomato puree – not tomato sauce. Measure and add in 3 to 4 tablespoons of prepared yellow mustard and 1/4 cup of water.
If you’re wondering if you need to drain off the fat, the answer is no.
Fat is flavor and traditional Detroit coneys make it the same way. With that said, you do not want a ton of fat in your chili. This is why we use lean ground beef.
Stir, cover and simmer on low-heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then remove the lid and simmer for an additional 10 minutes so the chili can thicken up a tad.
A lot of people have their opinion on how to make the no-bean chili for chili dogs, which is totally fine! Some may argue that coney dogs are not “true Detroit Style Coney Dogs” unless you have used beef heart and/or suet in the chili. (yeah, no thanks). I’m a home cook who does not want to use beef heart in chili nor do I want to attempt to convince my family to eat it.
So Please don’t leave me a comment about there not being beef heart in this recipe. I’m completely aware! Please feel free to use it or add it with the ground beef if you wish. 🙂
Finally place steamed hotdogs into buns and top as much chili as your heart desires.
In my opinion, it’s totally normal for one to need/use a fork and knife in order to eat Detroit style coney dogs. Lastly, zigzag few stripes of yellow mustard and top with finely minced white onion.
If you’re gluten free you can still enjoy a Detroit coney! Besides using gluten free buns, once I topped two hotdogs (no buns) with coney chili. Then loaded them up with crushed Fritos, diced jalapeños, mustard, onion and cheddar cheese. Technically it wasn’t a coney dog (perhaps you’d call it a coney bowl?) but still an amazingly delicious experience nonetheless.
I hope you enjoy this coney dog recipe. We think they are pretty darn delicious.
How To Freeze Chili And Reheat Later:
- COOL: make sure the chili is completely cool before freezing. Never place hot or very warm items in the freezer (or fridge!) as it can thaw and negatively affect the nearby food.
- PORTION: when cool, divide chili into portions. Whether it’s a single serving, two or four, portion the cooled chili into either freezer safe bags or air-tight containers. I prefer using freezer safe bags and removing as much air as possible, this helps with storing.
- FLATTEN: once portioned, lay flat on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze for a few hours. Like in this post.
- STORE: stack the flat frozen chili portions vertically or horizontally saving so much freezer space. Store chili in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- REHEAT: I prefer to thaw frozen chili overnight in the fridge. However you can soak in a sink of lukewarm water for 20 to 30 minutes – flip every so often and change out the water at least once or twice. You can also defrost in the microwave until thawed. Lastly, add thawed chili to saucepan or dutch oven and heat until thoroughly heated throughout.
For More Chili Recipes Click Here!
Detroit-Style Coney Dogs
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ tablespoons chili powder
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 small pinches sugar
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree, not tomato sauce
- 3 to 4 tablespoons yellow prepared mustard, or to taste - I use 4 Tbsp
- 8 hotdogs with natural casing, see notes
- 8 hotdog buns
- yellow mustard, for serving
- finely diced white onion, for serving
- Place the ground beef, onion and garlic into a medium pot or dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat into very small crumbles.
- Once the meat is fully cooked (do not drain off fat) add in the spices, sugar, tomato puree and mustard and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Then uncover, stir and simmer for an additional 10 minutes to thicken the chili.
- Prepare the eight hot dogs until warmed through-out. Serve the hot dogs in warm hotdog buns and top with desired amount of chili, yellow mustard and minced white onion.
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