NYC Red Onion Hot Dog Sauce

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NYC Red Onion Hot Dog Sauce

Many people may not think of onion sauce as a “hot dog relish,” but red onion sauce can be found at virtually every hot dog cart and hot dog joint in New York City and it definitely fits into the relish category of a vegetable, vinegar, and sugar based hot dog condiment. Paired with yellow mustard, Red Onion Sauce is the standard topping at any NYC street cart or Papaya-themed hot dog stand. Many vendors use the Sabrett’s brand, but plenty make their own.  The following is a recipe that “Max, the Hot Dog Guy” on 42nd Street, shared with me. Take your taste buds to the Big Apple with the very first bite!


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-sized onions, cut in half and then into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • Dash of hot pepper sauce
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup water


  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onions and saute until golden and limp, about 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in ketchup then add cinnamon, chili powder, hot pepper sauce and salt. Stir in water and bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until mixture is heated through.

Makes about 2 cups of red onion hot dog sauce (enough for 6 to 8 hot dogs).

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