The Hot Dog Man’s Special Sauce

This lit­tle recipe was shared with me recent­ly by a man who makes a liv­ing sell­ing hot dogs. This sauce is the star of his “secret menu”, which I stum­bled into find­ing out about as I ordered my hot dog. He asked me how I want­ed my hot dog and my lack­adaisi­cal “what­ev­er you rec­om­mend” response opened the vault to this amaz­ing­ly tangy, slight­ly sweet & salty, with “just the right amount of heat” sauce. Now, I don’t know why I told him to make it “his way” but I’ll tell you, I am sure glad I did.

With the first bite, I knew this real­ly was a spe­cial sauce. My face said it all — and he glad­ly shared the secrets behind his con­coc­tion. I hus­tled back to my seat, jot­ted the ingre­di­ents down in a draft on my Word­Press site, rather than using my untrust­wor­thy note-tak­ing phone app, hit save and then made hub­by go ask for anoth­er secret sauced-dog. He “had” to try it too — I demand­ed. Even though he was already burst­ing from the burg­er he chose instead of the hot dog, he com­plied. That’s a show of true love, right? ha

Before his first bite, I took one more taste of the sauce so I could “mem­o­rize” it. Some peo­ple have a pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ry — well, I have a fla­vor mem­o­ry. Maybe every­one has a fla­vor mem­o­ry, I am sure it’s not unusu­al. Regard­less, all that was left was find­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to recre­ate this secret condi­ment.

The kids found it odd that I was excit­ed about serv­ing hot dogs for Sun­day din­ner — but clicked their heels at their good for­tune. 

For this meal, I sautéed pep­pers, onions & mush­rooms with smoked sausage.

To get the veg­gies soft­ened, I added a lit­tle water to the brais­er, cov­ered and let it sit over medi­um flame for about 15 min­utes.

While the sausage and veg­gies cooked, I made the sauce. Start off with water and 1½ cup of chopped white onion.

Bring the onions/water to boil and con­tin­ue boil­ing, cov­ered for 10 min­utes or until the onions are ten­der and translu­cent.

Once the onions are done, here’s what makes this secret sauce so spe­cial:

  • toma­to paste 
  • crushed red pep­per
  • apple cider vine­gar 
  • corn­starch
  • corn syrup
  • salt

Add it all to the pot, stir and boil for anoth­er 15–20 min­utes to achieve desired thick­ness.

Load up a bun with the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of veg­gies, smoked sausage, (my per­son­al must — yel­low mus­tard) and top with a spoon­ful of spe­cial sauce. And with that first bite — I knew. I nailed it. This sauce tastes exact­ly like the sauce I mem­o­rized just days ear­li­er. Sweet, tangy, a pop of heat and just the right amount of salti­ness. This real­ly does make a sim­ple hot dog into some­thing spe­cial.

Hot Dog Man’s Spe­cial Sauce
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  1. 1½ c white onion
  2. 3 c water
  3. 2T toma­to paste
  4. 1–2 t crushed red pep­per*
  5. 3 T vine­gar
  6. 2 T corn­starch
  7. 2 T corn syrup
  8. 2 t salt
  1. In a medi­um pot, com­bine onion and water, bring­ing to boil. Cov­er & con­tin­ue cook­ing onions until translu­cent. Next add remain­ing ingre­di­ents. Stir to com­bine and bring back to boil. Allow the sauce to boil uncov­ered for 15–120 min­utes, stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly. Once desired thick­ness is reached, serve with cooked hot dogs or sausages and desired veg­gies.
  1. *more or less depend­ing on heat pref­er­ences
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