Hot Dog Sauce

See the new, better version of this sauce here, but also note the correction below to the amount of water in the recipe.

Just before my granddaughter left yesterday, she finally found my teapot collection. In one corner of the shelves is a miniature cookbook called Tea Time, in which I had tucked this borrowed recipe for hot dog sauce distinctively flavored with cloves and nutmeg. For years, my husband raved about the hot dog sauce at The Majestic Bar and Grille in Greenville, PA that he swore was made with cinnamon. I knew he was wrong even before I had tasted it myself and that he was confusing cinnamon with cloves—he was just thinking of a generic pumpkin pie flavor, but misidentifying the spice. You can still get hot dogs with that locally famous sauce by traveling to Greenville or you can make this recipe that is pretty darned close. I think we got it from my sister-in-law, who got it when it might have been circulating, and you can tell that she jotted it down on what was handy.

I’m not actually making it today, so I don’t have a photo, but it will turn up some time this summer (see new photo in the recipe from late summer added 9/7).

Hot Dog Sauce

  • Servings: maybe 16-20?
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Here the recipe is transcribed as on the original:

  • yield—1 gal.
  • 2 lbs hamburg, brown & drain
  • 2 C diced onions
  • 2 T salt
  • 2 1/2 oz chili sauce
  • 1 T ground Cloves
  • 1 T Nutmeg
  • 1 T Black pepper
  • 1 1/2 oz Paprika
  • 1 Ketchup (small bottle)
  • 1 T Sugar
  • 👉 1 C water—I just realized that the written recipe says 7 cups not 1!!! What a difference that makes.

Mix all together & add paste made from 1 C water & 1 C flour. Simmer 2 hrs.

Here’s how I make it from these ingredients:

  1. I sauté the chopped onions either before browning the ground beef or with it. I think the salt is a little much and would advise you adjust to your taste.
  2. Notice that there are 8 cups of water indicated, one goes in with the initial ingredients and one is used in the flour mixture. I would simmer the mixture for the first hour with the 7 cups of water in the ingredients list, watching to add more water if necessary. This is a thick sauce and you don’t want it to stick or burn. I add a mixture of flour and water a little at a time, stirring to see how it thickens. Play around with the flour and water levels. The sauce should be thick, but not like paste.
  3. For the chili sauce in the recipe, I think the writer means Heinz® Chili Sauce, which comes in a 12 oz bottle, so 2.5 ounces would be a little less than 1/4 of the bottle—it doesn’t have to be an exact measure. The bottle says there are 20 tablespoons in it, so do your favorite math. Where the recipe calls for a small bottle of ketchup, I imagine the writer means those old little glass bottles of Heinz® Ketchup (we are in western Pennsylvania where ketchup automatically means Heinz), if you can still run across such a bottle. Maybe those were also 12 ounce bottles; I don’t know, but it seems about right.

A dark spicy sauce
A dark spicy sauce

You can freeze this sauce. I usually divide it into 4-6 containers, which is plenty for the two of us, each container for two meals. The recipe makes a lot, considering that you don’t need much for a hot dog.


Cloves really make the difference in this sauce which has no resemblance to actual chili of the southwest.



10 thoughts on “Hot Dog Sauce

  1. I don’t know about your Majestic sauce recipe. I’m from Greenville, PA (now in Atlanta, GA) and have had majestic dogs many times over the years. The taste and primary spice in the authentic sauce is a bit mysterious – its hard to place. I made this recipe last weekend and it has an overwhelming obvious in your face clove taste. Perhaps the T’s in the recipe should be t’s – don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that the cloves are too strong. I do think that cloves are in the original Majestic sauce, but probably not exactly as in the recipe given to me. I should bring some home and take it to a science lab to see what I’m missing! We all still go there when in the area.


    2. I’m going to try that idea of teaspoons instead of tablespoons next time. I”m so used to the capital T meaning tablespoon that I never thought about making that change. Thanks.


  2. I grew up in Greenville … on Main Street, even. One of my neighbors lived beside Anna and Gus Gates. He, of the original Majestic restaurant. I have a photo-copy of the typed out “Hot dog sauce” recipe. The ingredients were: 3# ground beef, 2 “Handfuls chopped onion”, 3 T. chili powder, 1 t. ground cloves (yes, TEASPOON), 1 T. black pepper, 1 T. nutmeg (I used 2 teaspoons), 3 T. paprika, 1 t. garlic powder, 14 oz bottle ketchup. Brown beef, remove and sweat the onions in 3 T. reserved fat, add spices and ketchup.
    Remove to pot. Beat together 6 c. water, 2 t. salt, 1 c. flour (3/4 c. seems enough). Add to chili mixture. Simmer 2 hours. Will thicken and beef will break down. The beef is supposed to be small particles, like Cincinnati chili. If you simmer this, uncovered then the water evaporates down. At any rate, this is the recipe that I have.
    N.B. T = tablespoon; t = teaspoon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aha! I hope more people will try it who are far from PA. I know what you mean about cooking down the beef to that fine consistency. Thanks a lot.



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