Three things make this The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat: A quality bun, diagonal cuts before grilling, and the Special Sauce. It’s so easy, you will be making this all summer! Invite me to your barbecue please! 

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat) from The Food Charlatan

My friend Kate is a fabulous concert level violinist. This weekend she was playing with the Sacramento Orchestra and scored tickets for Sandi (my sis-in-law) and I.

The first piece was amazing. A full choir sang with the orchestra, as well as a boy soprano. Both of us got chills, almost cried, the whole bit. The second piece…not so much.

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat) from The Food Charlatan

The moment the not-cool piece ended, Sandi turns to me during the applause and says, “I did NOT like that.” “Me neither!!” and then we start going on about how it paled in comparison to the first one.

THEN. Just wait you guys. Everyone is still applauding when the conductor turns to the audience and moves his hands in the universal “stand-up-now” motion. I’m halfway out of my chair when I look behind me and realize the conductor was not asking the audience to stand up. He was asking the man sitting directly behind us to stand up. And at least a half-dozen people sitting next to him. Our eyes widen in fear as we stare up at the man standing not 2 feet away from us, waving his hand to accept the applause.

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat) from The Food Charlatan

We fumble for our programs. Who is he???

THE COMPOSER. Who were the people standing next to him? The family of the dead guy that the piece was written about.

Someday when I die and I get to find out All The Stuff (you know, you find out Stuff when you die, right? Please say yes?) my first question will be, HE DIDN’T HEAR US DID HE??

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat) from The Food Charlatan

I wasn’t made out for the orchestra anyway, let’s be real. I’m more of a hot dog kind of girl. JDAWGS HOT DOGS to be specific. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you are not from Utah, but if you are ever passing through, you HAVE to try JDawgs. It started out as a tiny shack just off BYU campus (my alma mater). Like literally, a shack. Students would pick up a hot dog on their way home or in between classes. Now I hear they are opening their 5th location, this one in SLC. They haven’t made it out to Sacramento yet, so I make them at home.

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat) from The Food Charlatan

What sets these dogs apart from a regular ol’ hot dog is the fresh bun, the diagonal cuts, and the Special Sauce. A good quality hot dog goes without saying. It doesn’t seem that far off from a regular hot dog, but I’m telling you, it’s life changing. The cuts make it easier to eat, and then you get a higher ratio of sauce-to-dog.

The owner’s grandmother clipped the sauce recipe from a newspaper back in the 50s. This isn’t her recipe, but I think it tastes just like it. I don’t add any other toppings, (the sauce speaks for itself) but you could add onions, pickles, sauerkraut, whatever. Make this for your summer barbecues! You will never go back to ketchup!

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat) from The Food Charlatan

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
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The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat)

4.96 from 23 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
Three things make this The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat: A quality bun, diagonal cuts before grilling, and the Special Sauce. It's so easy, you will be making this all summer! Invite me to your barbecue please! 


For the sauce:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce, I used Sweet Baby Rays
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • dash black pepper

To assemble:

  • large all-beef or Polish hot dogs, Costco has the best!
  • large buns, The ones at Costco fit perfectly
  • butter
  • white onions
  • sauerkraut
  • pickles
  • banana peppers


  • To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and set over high heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture barely starts to bubble, then remove from heat.
  • Let cool completely. I like it to be room temperature, but you can chill it if you want.
  • When you are ready to cook the hot dogs, set your grill to medium heat.
  • Use a sharp serrated knife to make diagonal cuts in the hot dog a little more than halfway through. You want the cuts to make large W's all the way down the dog. See photos.
  • Grill the dogs until they are as black as you want them. Should take about 3-5 minutes per side. Don't forget to flip them halfway. The dogs will curl into a smiley face because of the cuts. It's because they're so happy that you get to eat them.
  • Butter the inside of the buns and place on the grill. Leave them for just a minute or so, until they get slightly crispy on the edges. Don't overdo it or the bun will turn stale.
  • Place the hot dog in the bun and top with tons of special sauce and any other desired toppings. If you are not eating right away, you can wrap the dog and the bun in foil to keep warm, like they do at JDawgs.


Source: Several sources influenced my version of this recipe: Clark's CondensedThe Sister's Cafe, My Recipe Confessions, and Oh Sweet Basil.


Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 325mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 162IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 188
Keyword: Copycat, hot dogs, JDawgs, Special Sauce
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!


More good stuff:

Homemade Pretzel Dogs. These are a classic around here! I made them recently with mozzarella cheese instead of a hot dog, do try it.

Homemade Pretzel Dogs


Cuban Sandwiches << these are great for summer!

Cuban Sandwiches from The Food Charlatan


Caprese Burger with Artichoke Pesto Sauce:

Caprese Burger with Artichoke Pesto Sauce from


Easy Sausage and Broccoli Kebabs with White Bean Salad:

Easy Sausage and Broccoli Kebabs with White Bean Salad from


Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Spicy Honey Bacon Glaze:

Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Spicy Honey Bacon Glaze

Hot Dogs forever!

Marinated Hot Dogs from Plain Chicken
Colombian Hot Dogs from My Colombian Recipes
Carolina Style Hot Dogs from Sugar Dish Me

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  1. Oh my word!!!! Ahhfreakinmazing!! Soo good! On my permanent roster of favs! We loved the recipe soo much! 

  2. This looks good. Going to make it but it’s not something I would consume a lot. Just one of those sausages have almost 50% of your daily intake of sodium not to mention the secret sauce.

  3. Maybe I missed it ( if so I apologize) but how long does this sauce keep in the refrigerator ? Thank you !

    1. Hey Donna! You can keep this in the fridge as long as you would keep ketchup in the fridge. So basically forever, in my house ;)

  4. Prepared these the other night without the sauce ’cause we were in a hurry. Last night we prepared them again and made the sauce. WOW….the sauce is so good!!!! This will be a go to for us again in the future.

    1. I’m so glad it was a hit Jim! Love these hot dogs so much! Now you’ve got me craving it. Thanks so much for reviewing!

  5. This is so good!  It has now become a condiment that has earned permanent residency in our refrigerator!!!  We use it on almost anything that we would otherwise use BBQ sauce or ketchup.  Particularly good on pulled pork, hot dogs and hamburgers.  Also good in baked beans!  

    1. Ooh, baked beans, I haven’t tried that! I’m so happy to hear the sauce has made it into permanent residency :) Thanks for reviewing Lorri!

  6. Hubby’s grill is messed up???? When did that happen?…anyways…I used a cast iron pan I have that has a grilled bottom?…did the cuts through them, got’em nice and charred on each side and made a double batch of the sauce! The cuts hold that sauce beautifully! I made some slaw, a little chilli bean sauce, sprinkled sharp cheese and jalepnos on top. BOOM-YUMMY-Delicious:)

  7. This is my husbands favorite!  I have to have a large squeeze bottle of this made up in the fridge at all times!!  It’s unique…not quite bbq sauce, not quite ketchup.  It’s the perfect compliment to most anything that comes off of the grill!

    1. I’m so glad you are loving the special sauce Lorri! I love to keep it on hand in the fridge too. It goes well on so many things. Thank you so much for coming back to comment!

  8. I made these (did not take a picture), anyone that considers these the best ever has never been to Chicago. I deleted the recipe. Average at best.

  9. I’m from Detroit where hot dogs rule especially coney dogs. I tried this sauce along with some grated onion! Fantastic! My new favorite!!!!!

    1. I didn’t know hot dogs were a thing in Detroit! I always think of Chicago. Clearly I’m uneducated. Now I need to visit Detroit for sure! Hot dogs are the best! googling coney dogs now. So glad you liked the sauce Michael, thanks for the review!

  10. I saw this article and for the first time heard of this restaurant Jdawgs. The truth is I have been on a search for the perfect hot dog sauce for almost 8 years now. Why? I live in another country and I am an entrepreneur and one of my obsessions is to start a chain of hot dog restaurants but what is missing is a special, addictive sauce that keeps people coming back and is nothing like what is currently available.

    I have experimented with so many different sauces and have never found that “one” that makes it great. Time after time I find that my creations don’t measure up to my expectations like good old ketchup or mustard. I find that most of the condiments that we put on a hot dog overpower the actual sausage and that’s what makes them great.

    As I said, I have never heard of this Jdawgs place and I saw plenty of videos of people eating and talking about the place while I was planning my expedition to pick up the ingredients for this recipe. I planned a pool party with close family, went to costco (I really dislike these sausages but it was recommended) then I followed this recipe perfectly.

    I have to say that out of 4 people that tried the end result, none of us were impressed. Not that the recipe that you have posted here is terrible or anything, when I tried it before the hot dog, I felt it might have potential but after trying it with the sausage it was just OK. But I wouldn’t have another one, neither would my company.

    My question, since I’ve never been to a Jdawgs before will have to be, is this recipe “exactly” like what comes from this restaurant? Does it taste the same, does it do the same to the hot dog? I’m simply looking for input here because I’m on an obsessive mission to find the perfect sauce and as much as I was excited to try this one, it didn’t do it for me or the others that tried it. I would think that a restaurant that has become so popular for this “sauce” would knock me on my ass when I tried it. But I was disappointed. Still looking for the perfect sauce……..

    1. Hi Jeff! Sorry this wasn’t the one for you! I do think it tastes like JDawg’s sauce. If you ever go yourself, you will have to let me know if you think it’s a match! Good luck with your search!

  11. You’re not alone in your thinking about learning stuff!

    And yes Costco hot dogs are the best!

    I did these in my air fryer and they turned out fabulous.

    I think I will try this out with a good sausage next such Half Smoke.

    1. Air fryer!! How fun is that?? I need to get myself one and try it out! Awesome tip Laurel thank you!

  12. You are too funny! I loved the story about the concert… I’ve found myself in similar circumstances… yikes! But my favorite part is when you said that when we die we get to learn All The Stuff… I thought I was the only person who believed that was going to happen!! And for now, I’m holding on to that hope… there’s so many things I want answers for!! LOL 😉 And I think cooking the hotdogs like that is awesome and the sauce sounds delicious… now all I need is for Summer to get her so I can start grilling!!

    1. Haha I’m so glad I’m not alone here Melanie!! I need to find out all the Stuff someday!! :) And yes, so excited for summer and hot dogs…enjoy!

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