Homemade Cheesy Chili Dogs

There are a plethora of regional variations of chili dogs,
more than you can shake a frankfurter at!

Portillo's Chili Dog

Toppings range from some source of meat sauce with cheese, onions, mustard, pickles, tomatoes, hot pepper relish to sauerkraut piled on top. 

However, the origin of chili dogs is a little vague…

Texas chili dogs were originally called Texas Hot Wieners, and originated on the East Coast.  Huh?

Peter George Koufougeorgas, a Greek immigrant from the town of Nea Koriniput, put the railroad town of Altoona, Pennsylvania on the map with his “Texas hot dog,” in 1918.

They surprisingly pretty much had nothing to do with Texas.  The “Texas” reference is to the chili sauce, which actually has more of a Greek cuisine influence, due to the Greek ethnicity of Kourougeorgas and his cooks.

"Pete" Koufougeorgas, Altoona, PA.  photo credit:  Texas Hotdogs

After watching workers leave the coal mines each day, covered in soot, and seeing their calloused hands, George envisioned them clasping a hot dog.   His chili dog ranged from the eastern to the western sides of Pennsylvania, later spreading across the nation ~ the craze was on…

Back in the summer of 1916, for 10¢, you might have ordered a  Coney Island hot dog.  It belongs to Detroit, Cincinnati, New York or whatever city the article you’re reading refers to.  Topping it is chili (remember that Greek inspired meat sauce), yellow mustard, white onion and cheese.  

Nathan's NYC, undated

In North Caroline, your chili dog is most likely loaded with chili, onions and slaw.

Connecticut dogs are topped with onions, chili and sauerkraut.

In Washington, D.C., it’s the ‘half-smoke’; similar to a hot dog, but larger and spicier, served with chili sauce, herbs and onions.

Rhode Island serves up the hot wiener, a small, thin hot dog of veal and pork, on a steamed bun with celery salt, yellow mustard, chopped onions and seasoned meat sauce.

Whatever the variety, chili dogs are sold by street vendors, out of stands, at ball games, out of shacks and at home… 

Superdawg - Chicago - 1948 and on

Chicago area - Portillo's founder, Dick Portillo - replica of his original hot dog stand - 50 years ago
Portillo's in Crystal Lake
My fave place for hot dogs - inside Portillo's

When we're not at Portillo's 
this is the way 
at home:

My Chili Dogs!

Moving on to our supper last night ~ I made chili a couple of days ago, which reminded Bill of chili dogs.

It has been a long while since we’ve eaten hot dogs and ages since we’ve had chili dogs.
No bottled chili sauce, no canned chili, no ketchup nor mustard touch my chili dogs. Just hot dogs, covered with my home made chili, a sprinkling over all of cheddar cheese and chopped white onions, on a toasty bakery hot dog bun.  

They were delicious with a side of fries!
The bottom line is this ~ chili dogs are just glorified pretentious wieners that are delicious!

Homemade Cheesy Chili Dogs
Printable recipe


8 hot dog buns, toasted
8 hot dogs, your favorite
2 cups of chili (Here is my chili recipe, and Bubba’s also)
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 white onion, chopped


Heat hot dogs in boiling water until heated through.
Place on toasted hot dog buns.
Top with a generous scoop of chili, cheese and onions.



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Gloria! They were great!

  2. You could've at least me know you were making those- it would've been worth the extra drive after work!

  3. Your chili dog looks pretty authentic and delicious!

  4. Hot dogs are eaten worldwide. Whatever you call them: chilli dogs, hot dogs, frankfurter, wiener - the bottom line is delicious foodstuff.
    Thanks for enlightening us on the varieties of hot dogs in the american cities.

    1. Thanks, Duta! I had no idea so many cities have their own version. Glad you enjoyed it! Take care

  5. Hi Pam, Nothing like a good chili dog! I definitely remember when they were the rage from coast to coast. My home town of Jackson Michigan had 2 Coney Dog restaurants downtown in the same block near the railway depot. They were called Jackson Coney Dogs and New York Coney Dogs. As for hot dogs in Chicago, Superdawg is living on its historical reputation in my opinion. I never did like the hot dogs in any form from them. We always enjoyed Portillo's...even beyond their great hot dogs! Our favorite Chicago Hot Dog place however was Michael's Hot Dogs up in Highland Park... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

    1. Hi Dave! I agree, love those chili dogs! I was surprised that Detroit was one of the first cities to serve chili dogs. Bet those you mentioned were all great. You're right about Superdawg. Portillo's rules for me but I may have to go to Highland Park soon. Have a great week!

  6. Oh, yum! Long a favorite of mine! I know yours are delicious!!

  7. What a wonderful story and now I'm craving chili dogs! I like mine, like you like yours - chili, onion and a little cheese. Perfection!!!!

    1. Thanks, Tricia! Great minds think alike! ☺ Have a wonderful week!

  8. Can you believe that I have never had chili dogs...and the funny thing is that every so on we go to Portillo's...next time there I must give this a try...I love that it is gooey and so cheesy...thanks for the recipe Pam!
    Have a wonderful week ahead :)

    1. Too funny, Juliana! Esp with going to Portillo's! :) They're gooey and cheese for sure! Thanks for the visit!

  9. That is so awesome to read all about the chili dog and to learn of a Greek influence! But I am honestly not sure if I have ever even eaten one...got to change that with your recipe :-)

    1. They're great, Evelyne! Hope you try one! The Greek origin really surprised me. Have a good rest of the day!

  10. Oh girl....nothing beats a good ol' chili dog! Just the other day, Sam and I were discussing a place in Tyler that served the best (greasy) chili dogs that could ever be found. I would love to have one of them today.

    1. Greasy sounds good, Shug! :) We really enjoyed them!

  11. I Haven't had a hot dog in years, now I want one right now these look delicious!

    1. I know what you mean, Cheri! It's something we don't eat very often either, but I love it when I have one. Thanks!

  12. Replies
    1. Woo hoo, GiGi! Foodporn for sure!

  13. I had no idea chili dogs originated in Pennsylvania! Lot of neat history here. It's been years since I've had a chili dog, and of course you have me craving one. :-)

    1. Ha! Go for it, John! They're great once in a while! Yes, I was surprised with the origin also. Thanks for the visit!

  14. Fantastic photos, Pam. Also, I'm digging your new comments section. So fun. Happy Eating and boogie boogie.

    1. Thanks, Ivy! Hope all is good your way. Boogie boogie!

  15. I've never had a chilli dog before but I bet I'd like it.

    1. They're great occasionally, Cakelaw! Take care

  16. Hard to beat a chili cheese dog - now I'm hungry for one.

    1. Thanks, Larry! I know what you mean!

  17. Well now you have done it.
    Boy am I hungry !! These look
    oh soooooo good!!

    M : )

  18. I so miss Chicago dogs-in chicago. You know I don't eat meat anymore, but once a year I cheat on a kosher dog-Chicago style. However hubby goes for chili. You just can't take Texas out of the boy! Great history!


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