To the unknowing stomach, a West Virginia hot dog is pretty simple. Hot dog, steamed bun, diced onion, yellow mustard, a creamy slaw, and a slathering of chili. But the secret is often enough in the sauce, and Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farm in Harrison County were kind enough to share one their recipes with us. “In West Virginia, you’ll find a lot of variety,” says Mike, who grew up outside of Charleston. “Some recipes call for cumin, but many don’t. Some are very spicy, just loaded with cayenne or preserved hot peppers, while others aren’t spicy at all—they’re rich and tomatoey and perfect in their own way. Some places call it ‘chili,’ some call it ‘sauce.’ This is a chili recipe, as we call it, that we like a lot. For a well-balanced West Virginia dog, you gotta pair the slightly spicy chili with a slightly sweet slaw, plus yellow mustard and diced onions. That’s what I grew up with, but remember––once you’re above the slaw line, you must be cautious when asking for slaw!” And, he says, when making your own, any hot dog will do and steamed buns are the way to go.

Yields 16 single servings.

Best cooked in the Joan.


For hot dogs:
  • 16 hot dogs
  • 16 hot dog buns
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • Yellow mustard 
For chili:
  • 1 pound ground beef 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. fine ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. Morton kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 14 oz. tomato sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. water
    For slaw:
    • 4 cups chopped cabbage 
    • 5 Tbsp. Duke’s mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp. whole milk 
    • 1 tsp. granulated sugar


    For hot dog chili:

    Brown the ground beef in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the beef is roughly half-cooked, add the onions. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic, salt, sugar, and spices. Stir in the tomato sauce and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Place chili in a food processor and pulse four or five times, each for about 3 seconds. Return to skillet and add 3 tablespoons of water (or slightly more, if necessary––just enough to make the chili saucy, but not runny). Simmer over low heat for about five more minutes. Set aside or serve immediately. 

    For slaw:

    Process the chopped cabbage in a food processor on high speed for about 10 seconds, until cabbage is shredded into very small bits. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together, then add cabbage to the mixture. Stir together until evenly combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to serving. 

    For hot dogs:

    To assemble, place a cooked hot dog—whether you boiled it or browned it in a pan—in a steamed bun, add diced onion and yellow mustard to your liking, top with a heaving spoonful of chili, then a heaping spoonful of slaw. Enjoy.

    Photo taken at Toni’s Ice Cream. Recipe courtesy of Mike Castello and Amy Dawson.

    September 01, 2023

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