Hungarian Onion Sauce for Hot Dogs

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Hungarian Onion Sauce Recipe for Hot Dogs

Thanks to Joe Carlatta for telling us about Charlie’s Pool Room in Alpha, New Jersey, which he says is like a shrine to hot dogs. One of the many things Joe likes about the place is their Hungarian onion sauce,  secret sauce that is simmered in small batches for six hours.  Charlie’s secret sauce is a sweet, tangy and slightly spicy combination of a NYC onion sauce and traditional Hungarian paprika sauce.

Joe Fencz, Owner of Charlie's Pool Room

Joe Fencz, Owner of Charlie’s Pool Room

The shop’s signature frankfurter was “the mealie” –it was pan-fried and topped with Grandma Fencz’s secret Hungarian onion sauce, and fresh-cut onions and peppers. A customer coined the name because it wasn’t just a hot dog; it was a meal.  Unfortunately, Charlie’s Pool Room is now closed after its owner, Joe Fencz past away in 2014.

Below is our attempt to recreate Charlie’s yummy Hungarian Onion sauce for hot dogs.


2 tbsp. cooking oil
2 large white onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 c. ketchup
2 to 4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, depending on taste
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Hungarian smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1-2 dashes of Cayenne pepper, depending on taste
1 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. all purpose flour


In a pan or Dutch oven, saute the onions in oil over medium high heat. Add garlic; cook until tender. Meanwhile, combine ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, sugar, paprika and remaining seasonings and water. Stir into onions; reduce heat and simmer on low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until tender. Then add flour and remaining 2 tablespoons water. Stir into mixture and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.  Can be served on hot dogs warm or at room temperature.
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Recipe Comments

Comments (4)

  1. posted by yuppicide on April 13, 2016

    This tastes kind of like your standard Onion Pushcart sauce from Sabrett. Doesn’t remind me of Charlie’s Pool Room at all. I put 1/2 tsp of cayenne. It needed more.

    • posted by AwesomeHotDogs on April 14, 2016

      Thanks for your feedback and suggestions. I agree, some cayenne does improve the flavor and provide the needed heat.

  2. posted by Paul Hall on January 16, 2016

    Has anyone made this with tomato paste instead of ketchup?

  3. posted by Paul Hall on December 22, 2015

    The original was described as having tomatoes. They served the hotdog dressed in this order:
    Hot dog sauce
    Fresh chopped white onions
    Red and green bell pepper, I dont think they were pickled peppers, , just fresh


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