When I was a kid, I loved getting hot dogs on the streets of New York. Just seeing that silver metal cart with the big umbrella got my mouth watering. Luckily, my father loved hot dogs even more than I did so I never feared being denied my request for a frank. Dad always got his hot dogs with mustard and red onions. I would just get mustard and sometimes, I would want sauerkraut though my taste for that changed periodically. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized just how delicious that red onion sauce was and that became my go-to hot dog topping. I loved that tangy tomato-y onion sauce so much, I think the hot dog became just another surface to hold up the onions.
Fast forward many years later: Tom and I were in North Carolina, where we had eloped the year before. We were back to celebrate our first wedding anniversary but this time, we were vegetarian. We went to The Trolley Stop, a restaurant that specializes in hot dogs including veggie dogs. We ordered and I asked for my hot dog with “mustard and onions,” my usual request. What I got was a hot dog with mustard and raw, chopped red onions. What??? I asked the counter person about it and she had no clue about the onions to which I was referring. This is what “a hot dog with onions” meant in North Carolina.
It turned out that the red onion sauce is native to New York City. You can actually buy it in bottles in large supermarkets though it’s hard to find. It’s not usually kept with the other condiments but is shelved in the meat department, on a shelf above the hot dogs. And if you aren’t in New York City at all, well, good luck finding it.
So of course, that meant I had to make my own. I came up with my own recipe for the red onion sauce and it’s amazing. It’s rich, tomato-y and tangy. I can eat it out of the pot with a spoon. I can and I did. So did Tom. He said it tastes even better than the one on the street carts. Yay!
It’s the perfect topping to vegan hot dogs, sausages, burgers and sandwiches. It is vegan, soy-free and gluten-free. Best of all, it takes me back to my favorite place in the world, the place I am constantly homesick for, the place I will always consider home: New York City. That’s why I call it my I ♥ NYC Red Onion Sauce. Enjoy!
I ♥ NYC Red Onion Sauce
1 cup water
1 tsp. arrowroot powder
¾ cup ketchup
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. brown sugar
A few dashes of hot sauce
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
In a bowl, combine the water and arrowroot powder. Whisk until it’s smooth. Add in the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and hot sauce. Mix in the cinnamon, chile powder, ½ tsp. of salt and the pepper. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Taste for seasoning adjustments.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the skillet. Season the onions with the remaining ½ tsp. of salt. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.
Add the sauce to the pan and toss so that the onions are coated. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the onions are tender, about 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning again and add more water if the sauce is too thick. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to serve.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp. arrowroot powder
- ¾ cup ketchup
- 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
- A few dashes of hot sauce
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. chile powder
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt, divided
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
- In a bowl, combine the water and arrowroot powder. Whisk until it’s smooth.
- Add in the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and hot sauce.
- Mix in the cinnamon, chile powder, ½ tsp. of salt and the pepper. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Taste for seasoning adjustments.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions to the skillet. Season the onions with the remaining ½ tsp. of salt.
- Add the garlic and cook until the onions are softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.
- Add the sauce to the pan and toss so that the onions are coated.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the onions are tender, about 25 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning again and add more water if the sauce is too thick.
- Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to serve.
Bless you! Thank you so much for this recipe! It met all my expectations. Perfect match of ingredients that culminated in an absolutely delicious sauce…you deserve an award for this creation! I failed many times to duplicate the sauce but your recipe was so delicious I literally spoon fed myself the whole thing rigjt off the pan! Thanks again!
Thank you Julio. It is good right out of the pan, isn’t it? 🙂
I’m visiting your beautiful city now can you tell me where I can get a great vegan dog? I found a place in Brooklyn that makes a vegan Reuben that I’m gonna try tomorrow.
Brian, I actually have no idea who would have vegan hot dogs in a restaurant. Maybe Blossom du Jour? Or Red Bamboo down in the Village? Try HappyCow.net to see what vegan places are near you.