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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 Dog
Yield: 8 hot dogs

Carolina Style 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: 0Cholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 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


Friday 4th of February 2022

I didn't read all the comments but I've had these dogs at picnics. My favorite add to this great dog is to layer a couple pieces of American cheese in the bun before I load the dog...

Rick Delaney

Monday 28th of March 2022

@Dan, That sounds really good.

Toni Spencer

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Lordy. Nothing gets us Tarheels all riled up like food. My mother liked her slaw thick cut and tart, Papa liked his grated and sweet. I didn't care and still don't as long as it is sitting on top of chili. What is important is what YOU like and think is tasty.say amen. ?

Heather Tullos

Tuesday 6th of July 2021

Preach, Toni!


Sunday 30th of May 2021

I chopped the coleslaw up fine and made everything else as instructed here. Was a great hit. Thanks for the post, adding it to my favorites.

Heather Tullos

Tuesday 1st of June 2021

Thanks so much, Brian!

John Decker

Thursday 2nd of July 2020

70 years ago and much earlier we served these in WVa hence called WVa hotdog. However would never mix ketchup and coleslaw no no

Jeff Olmstead

Wednesday 13th of May 2020

These look good, but Carolina style has thinly shredded cabbage. As one commenter already noted, these have a chunky cabbage. They probably taste great, but I’ve lived in Hatteras for 38 years, and I can assure you these are NOT Carolina style. Seems more like a Kentucky style, maybe.

Rick Delaney

Monday 28th of March 2022

@Heather Tullos, Hey Heather. Play nice!

Dana Smith

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

@Jeff Olmstead, I don’t think you’re being argumentative as the writer seems to take your comment personal. I was born and raised in N.C and your statement about the slaw is absolutely CORRECT!

Heather Tullos

Wednesday 13th of May 2020

Funny how it's only dudes that show up to comment about how I do or don't cut cabbage. I've lived in NC most of my life - not quite 38 years, but close! So I am not sure why you think you are more qualified.