Onion Relish for New York-Style Hot Dogs

May 2013: Hot Dogs
Hot dogs plucked from a steamy water bath in a Sabrett’s pushcart: quintessential New York City Street food. And in NYC, even more than sauerkraut, the iconic relish is onion. Professor Bruce Kraig graciously shared the onion sauce recipe from his book, with Patty Carroll, Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America. The recipe is adapted from Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn of Amazing Ribs.


1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
1 tablespoon tomato paste, ketchup, or BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon inexpensive balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves minced garlic


1. Whisk together the water, cornstarch, tomato paste, vinegar, mustard, sugar, hot pepper sauce, and cinnamon. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. add the onions and season with salt. Cook until softened and just beginning to brown slightly. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the water mix to the skillet and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the onions do not burn, adding water if necessary. After an hour or so, the sauce should be thick. Adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and spices to taste. Serve on hot dogs on warm buns, with additional mustard and sauerkraut.