Hot Dogs and Sausages for a Tasty Tailgate or Backyard BBQ



Grilling season remains in high gear, and tailgating season is right around the corner. So when Chop Box sent me a plethora of hot dogs and sausages to sample, and asked me to conjure up some recipes to go with all of it, I was more than happy to accept the challenge. 

While Chop Box is known for its restaurant-quality steaks and seafood, they also have a very respectable selection of hot dogs and sausages.

We spent an epic Sunday grilling, steaming, baking, and tasting all of them. Read on for my feedback on each and a number of topping ideas inspired by signature hot dogs from all over the United States.

If you’d like to try any Chop Box items — including the ones highlighted in this article — enjoy 10% Off when you use discount code JerseyBites10 at checkout. ($99 minimum order. 1 use per customer. Good on all non-gift-card products.)

Top Dogs

The Brooklyn Hot Dog Co.: I started with hot dogs. Made with grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork, dogs from the Brooklyn Hot Dog Co. have no added nitrates or nitrites. I received the all-beef, beef, and pork varieties. Other varieties include a pepperoni hot dog, a gyro hot dog, and a Buffalo chicken dog. All of these are on my must-try-before-the-end-of-summer list. 

These dogs are perfect for the grill. They heat up quickly as they are on the slim side, and the natural casings give them that beloved snap when you bite into them. Knowing they are made with quality ingredients makes them all the more enjoyable. 

Since these delicious dogs hail from NYC, I gave them the signature dressings they deserve: one with brown mustard and sauerkraut and the other with NYC’s famous onion sauce. There are prepared onion sauces on the market which can make your life and tailgating easier, but if you want to take it to the next level, I found a fantastic recipe.

Thumann’s: Next at bat was Jersey’s own famous hot dog, Thumann’s. That’s right. Thumann’s hails from Carlstadt, New Jersey, and has been in business since 1949. The company offers a variety of hot dogs and sausages. I received the classic pork and beef franks, with natural casing.

I will bet that I don’t need to sell you on Thumann’s. You’ve most likely had them and love them already. Since Thumann’s makes a substantially sized weiner, I decided this would be the perfect vehicle for bacon. Yes, why not double up on the pork for a party?

The San Francisco BLT hot dog inspires this hot dog. Cook your bacon-wrapped dog at 400 degrees on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Tuck in some lettuce and tomato, then drizzle with something cool, like ranch dressing or mayo. I served it on a Martin’s hoagie roll, which provided a sturdy vehicle for delivery. This puppy is a show-stopper. 

Ninman Ranch: Next up was a hot dog that I was excited to try. Niman Ranch’s Fearless Franks. According to the website, these are made in small batches and smoked over hickory wood, producing a fresh-tasting frank with deep flavors with no added nitrates or nitrites.

They are plump dogs, and the directions suggested to grill or steam. I opted for the latter.

The result was a super flavorful hot dog with great texture. They’re tasty with just a little mustard, but the generous size of these dogs made me think they’d also be the perfect companion to my homemade hot dog chili.

I was right: This rugged hot dog doesn’t get overpowered by the chili, and they make the perfect pair. (You can find the chili recipe at the end of this post.) 

Sausage Selections

To me, nothing says fall — and football season — more than sausages on the grill. (I’m part German and born in October. Maybe that’s why sausage calls to me this time of year.)

Howe’s: Chop Box carries Howe’s Uncured Oktoberfest bratwurst, a fully cooked product of Germany, with no nitrates. All it needs is a little grilling to heat and give it that lovely snap. 

I really enjoyed these brats. And I don’t say that about many brats. Perhaps just I haven’t had the right ones. These are moist and so full of flavor that I happily enjoyed them without any condiments or toppings. 

Even so, you can’t go wrong with some good mustard and sauerkraut.

North Country Smokehouse: Next up was a sausage I also enjoyed, North Country Smokehouse Vermont Cheddar Sausage. To me, this sausage tastes a lot like Kielbasa. It’s very smoky and is perfect for the grill. They are fully cooked, so just like the brats, they just need a few minutes to warm up and get their grill marks on. These guys are perfect with mustard, sauerkraut, or maybe served with cheese and crackers. Highly recommend. 

Compare Family Farms: And now for something completely different. Compart Family Farms — Premium Duroc — jalapeño and white cheddar sausage. Unlike Vermont cheddar sausages, where the cheese is combined with the meat, and you only get a hint of that cheddar taste, these sausages have an ooey-gooey cheesy center, making them reasonably rich.

I felt like they would go best with an acidic topping, so I paired them with pickled onions. I leaned in on the jalapeño with more pickled Jalapeños on top. I opted to steam these, but I’m sure they’re also great on the grill.

Compart Family Farms: Premium Duroc jalapeño and white cheddar sausage topped with pickled red onions and pickled jalapeños.

Traveling with Toppings

I had a great time researching how Americans enjoy hot dogs across the country. It was also surprising to discover what some places tout as their region’s signature dog. 

Seattle: One of the more interesting pairings I learned about hails from Seattle, where cream cheese and sautéed onions make it onto the bun. I tried it. While it wouldn’t be my first choice, I could picture scarfing one down after having a few drinks in downtown Seattle, which, as the story goes, is how this creation got started.

The Seattle Dog with cream cheese and sautéed onions.

Atlanta: Head to Atlanta and you’ll find a preference for chili dogs topped with coleslaw. I tried this combination and gave it a righteous thumbs up, especially topped with my homemade coleslaw. Just make sure you’re loaded up with napkins. (Coleslaw recipe below.)

Atlanta likes their chili dogs with slaw.

Chicago: I’m sure I would get some fiery emails if I left Chicago’s favorite dog out! My only problem with creating it was the lack of required ingredients here in New Jersey. Chicago dogs call for Sport peppers. Never heard of them? I hadn’t either. And, as I learned, neither have the staffs at our local grocery stores. Also required? A poppyseed bun. I struck out on finding them too. So for my knockoff Chicago dog, I used pickled jalapeños and a brioche bun. I finished it off with celery salt, as required. 

My home version of The Chicago Dog

New Jersey: Last but not least: New Jersey’s own Italian hot dog! While it was the humble home version, I modeled my dog after Jimmy Buff’s Italian hot dog, which is legendary.

Finding the required pizza bread was a fail, so I opted for a hoagie roll. I went the extra mile and deep-fried the potatoes, though. And I made it “a double” with two hot dogs. Doesn’t that just make your Jersey heart go pitter-pat? 

New Jersey: the Italian hot dog

Hot Dog Chili Recipe

There are many more signature hot dogs from all over the United States, but  it’s time to get to that chili recipe I promised.

When I was chatting with my fiancé about finding a hot dog chili recipe for this article, he waxed poetic about the chili dogs he and his father used to get from Father & Son Luncheonette in Linden. (His family is from Linden, and this was a favorite spot, especially for chili dogs.) The restaurant has been gone for many years, so I had to work off of Peter’s very distant memory, some Google searches, and a little instinct. 

chili hot dog

And here it is. The original recipe I worked off of is by Ray Mack’s Kitchen and Grill. He calls it Southern Style Hot Dog Chili Sauce. Below is the recipe with a few adjustments from yours truly. The result is a thick, savory with a hit of sweet sauce that I am told hits the mark. I hope you enjoy it. And, if you decide to do like they do in Atlanta, I’ve also included my coleslaw recipe. 

Father & Son Hot Dog Chili Recipe (copycat)

hot dog chili recipe


  • 1 lb. ground beef (85-15)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/8 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree


  1. Using a deep pot or dutch oven, sautee the onions until translucent.
  2. Add ground beef and beef broth and break it up into fine pieces.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the tomato paste and puree.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil using med high heat.
  5. Bring down to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens.
  6. Add tomato paste and puree and cook down until the chili sauce is quite thick. You want that chili to stay put on your hot dog.
  7. Make a day ahead for even more flavor. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

Foolproof Coleslaw Recipe

This is my go-to recipe for perfect coleslaw. My kids refuse to eat any other coleslaw if that tells you anything.


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • A few grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 large bag of shredded coleslaw mix


  1. Add all ingredients up to canola oil into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together.
  3. Slowly stream the oil from a measuring cup while whisking the mixture until it is glossy and well incorporated.
  4. Add the bag of coleslaw and mix. I used salad tongs which seem to work best.
  5. Serve immediately or refridgerate until ready.

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If you’d like to try any Chop Box items — including the ones highlighted in this article — enjoy 10% Off when you use discount code JerseyBites10 at checkout. ($99 minimum order. 1 use per customer. Good on all non-gift-card products.)

platter of hot dogs and sausages
Hot dogs and sausages available from