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Carolina Style Hot Dogs

A Carolina tradition! Carolina Style Hot Dogs are covered in a beefy chili, creamy homemade cole slaw, and onions. Ketchup and mustard are optional. Serve these at your next backyard BBQ for a crowd-pleasing win!

Carolina Style Hot Dog

Let me start by saying that I am not really a hot dog person. Or a cole slaw person. I’m usually happy to stuff my face with veggie burgers or Grilled Chimichurri Chicken.

But something happens in the summer where the occasional urge for a really grilled, nearly charred hot dog has to be satisfied.

I mean… hot dogs just don’t taste as good in December when my brain is all wrapped up in soup and cookies and pie. Hot dogs to me scream of July heat and ice cream parties, picnic tables and Sweet Tea Sangria.

So with hot dogs (and most things) I sort of feel like you have to go big or go home. And that’s where Carolina Style Hot Dogs come in.

Every part of the country has their own style of hot dog, and this one here is North Carolina through and through.

Carolina Dog with Slaw

First thing you need is a QUALITY hot dog. I’m voting all beef.

The Carolina Dog is grilled and topped with hearty beef chili – no beans! – creamy cole slaw, and chopped onions.

You can do your own ketchup and mustard thing, but those 3 ingredients are crucial, and for a Carolina Dog to live up to all the hype I’m giving it here, you need really good toppings.

Put down the canned chili, ya’ll.

Carolina Style Hot Dogs with Chili and Slaw

This slaw needs to be creamy with some tang. You are looking for the right combo of mayo to cider vinegar, with just a hint of sweetness from the sugar. It’s gotta be a teensy bit sweet on top of the chili because chili has a little spice. Onions are like a little bonus on top.

I was skeptical the first time I went down the Carolina Hot Dog road. I’d never had one until a few years ago, long after I’d moved out here to the land without Target and saw them on every menu everywhere.

They taste like summer and are worth every single bite.

Carolina Style Hot Dogs with Homemade Slaw

A few notes.

There’s some debate in the comments over the authenticity of the slaw and the chili on these hot dogs. Men who felt so passionate about my wrongness that they felt the need to chime in at 2 am on a Wednesday. Ahhh the internet. Such a fun place.

I grew up here in North Carolina, and this is how I make my slaw. So it’s North Carolina Slaw.

You can cut your cabbage any way you like.

Also … chili doesn’t have to cook all day to be good chili, especially if you are putting it on hot dogs. In this case it’s a condiment, not the main staple of the meal.

Carolina Style Hot Dogs with chili and slaw

Carolina Style Hot Dogs

Carolina Style Hot Dogs

Yield: 8 hot dogs
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Yummy Carolina Style Hot Dogs are grilled and covered in beefy homemade chili and creamy cole slaw, and then sprinkles with finely diced onions. A Carolina summer tradition!


  • 8 all beef hot dogs (see note)
  • 8 hot dog buns
  • ketchup & mustard to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions

For the Chili:

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup broth (I used low sodium chicken broth)
  • cayenne or red chili flakes to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (see note for chili seasoning)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef

For the Slaw:

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 cup red cabbage, very finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup cabbage, very finely chopped (see note)
  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil


  1. Heat the grill for the hot dogs. You can cook these to your liking -- I love mine charred.
  2. While the grill is heating, brown the ground beef in a large pan. Add all the seasonings to the ground beef and pour in the broth. Turn it over in the skillet a few times to coat the meat. You also want to break the beef up as much as possible. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium, and let is simmer while you make everything else, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a large bowl toss together the cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion.
  4. In a smaller bowl whisk together the mayo, cider vinegar, canola oil, and sugar until smooth. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.
  5. To assemble the hot dogs place each grilled hot dog in a bun, top with chili, then slaw, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup chopped onions. Add ketchup and mustard as you like.


If I'm gonna eat a hot dog, I spring for the good ones. They cost a little more but better quality equals better taste!
You can use a package of chili seasoning in place of all the seasonings and spices listed here. I always have everything on hand to make my own, but if you have to go out and buy the items listed, it will be much more cost effective to grab a chili packet and go.
Short cut!!! You can use a prepared bag of slaw mix (the cabbage and carrot mixture) to save time

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 0 Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 0mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 0g

You also need this Carolina Burger situation

Cheeseburgers with Chili and Slaw

Carolina Style Burgers

If you love hot dogs you should also try these

Cheesesteak Hot Dogs

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Sun Drop Slushie Recipe
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John Lewis

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

Just made these for dinner - absolutely delicious. I'm a long time resident of N C and these are as fine an example of a Carolina dog as I have ever tasted. Thanks Heather!

Heather Tullos

Thursday 23rd of May 2019

Thank you so much, John! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

Carolyn at the Beach

Wednesday 4th of July 2018

I just wanted to say that I love your recipe for chili and I love your NC attitude!! You go GIRL!!!!


Saturday 16th of June 2018

Mouthwatering. Looks so good and delicious. I want it right now. I am hungry.


Wednesday 27th of December 2017

If you're from North Carolina, nothing can start a friendly argument faster than the topic of barbecue and/or hot dogs.The best way to eat a hot dog, or barbecue aaboutfor that matter, is the way you like best. But that doesn't mean you still can't argue about it. :-)

Melanie Walters

Thursday 23rd of November 2017

I born and raised in NC and we are raised on Carolina Red Hot dogs with chili and cole slaw that is definitely more finely chopped with a hint of carrots if any and sweet pickle relish. My dad ran a grill and every grill around I know cooks makes their hot dogs this way. But I will agree that it is different in different areas of NC. So I suppose to each his own. There really is not right or wrong but they are all good it's just what you grow up on is always the best. Just like NC BBque is the best with vinegar and texas pete sauce with other yummy additives is the best but some people add this or that! in their sauce but I think what I grew up on is the best!!