CopyCat Recipe for The Varsity's Chili Sauce

With Independence Day just a few days away, I wanted to share my copycat recipe for The Varsity's Chili Sauce I have finally perfected to my family's taste. If you are from the south, or have been in the Atlanta area, then you know about a HUGE Atlanta icon ~ THE VARSITY.  It is home to hot dogs, burgers, fries and onion rings. The chili sauce that is found on the top of their hot dogs and between the buns of their chili burger is plain and simple...GOOD.


Copycat Recipe for The Varsity's chili sauce. The Atlanta icon, The Varsity is known for their foods, this recipe is almost like what is served. frogslilypad.net


The Varsity is one of the few places we really miss as their hot dogs are like no other.  Last fall, I began searching for a chili recipe similar to what is served on the hot dogs and chili burgers. I tried two other "copycat" recipes and both were missing something that the other one had; so I experimented.

Experimenting is good... so is a little drive down memory lane...

I remember going to The Varsity Jr. when I was little and bringing several boxes of  hot dogs, fries and onion rings home for supper on the weekends. The smell of the hot dogs and the onions were enough to drive me crazy as a kid; I loved piling on the onions when I got home.

While growing up, I never ate their hamburgers, but my Jamie did when he was little bitty.   Once he started eating hot dogs in a bun, he turned his nose up at the hamburgers. Yes, they are that good!  This chili is not a bean filled, liquidy concoction like you find in a can; meat, spices and just enough liquid to keep it from drying out makes it special.

Copycat Recipe: The Varsity's Chili Sauce


When experimenting with the recipes, I found that the national brand chili seasoning envelope gives a better taste to the chili. I tried using a store brand and there was a not so pleasant after-taste that almost made me want to dump the batch of chili out.  You are being forewarned! :)

The first time I tried cooking this, I made it on the stove top. I was in a hurry and it really didn't have enough time for the flavors to come through; you know how chili is, the longer it cooks the better... same thing here. If you cook it on the stove, let it simmer over low heat.

The ONE THING you must do for this to even come close to what is served at The Varsity, be sure when you are browning your meat you, chop, chop, chop it so there will be no large chunks. I even continued chopping the meat with the spatula after I put it in the crock pot.  Unfortunately, I can't find split top buns here, but if you can, be sure to use them since that is what The Varsity serves their hot dogs in. Oh yes, don't forget to steam your buns.

This is a perfect recipe to experiment with for your family's taste buds. I'd love to hear if you try it and how it turns out.  If you choose to double the recipe, it freezes beautifully. I have a container in the freezer just waiting for Friday.


Copy Cat Recipe: The Varsity's Chili Sauce


Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds ground meat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 envelope chili seasoning (I use McCormick)
  • 1 cup water (up to)

Directions:

Brown the ground meat and drain. In a crock pot, add the meat and spices. Stir in up to 1 full cup of water;  you don't want a very watery chili. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Don't let the water cook completely out of the pot, add just enough to keep the chili from drying out.

Copycat Recipe for The Varsity's chili sauce. The Atlanta icon, The Varsity is known for their foods, this recipe is almost like what is served. frogslilypad.net




20 comments

  1. Varsity recipe was fantastic !

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  2. Recipe looks delicious! I am just trying to clarify - you recommend using the "national brand chili season envelope" ... is that the actual name of the product you are using? I haven't been able to locate.
    Thanks!

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  3. A national brand would be something like McCormick.

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  4. Hi there... what lean percentage did you end up using ???

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  5. We normally only use ground venison or ground turkey. But, when I buy ground beef, I buy the cheapest because I rinse off the meat after it has been drained really well.

    I hope that answers your question. Thanks for visiting.

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  6. Made this last night and it was AWESOME!!!! Atlanta is quite a drive from Michigan. We had the Varsity a few weeks ago when we were visiting friends in Atlanta.
    Thanks!!!
    I will be making this again :)

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  7. Hi Lane! Yes, Michigan to Atlanta is quite a drive. Thanks for letting me know you've tried this recipe. I'm so happy it turned out for you.

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  8. OMG!!! Lori, I wanted to share with you that I made this recipe over the weekend in a large batch to freeze some for later, and it tastes like the real thing. Yes, we live within driving distance of the Athens Varsity, but there are times, when I just don't have the time to stop by and pick up hot dogs. We are limiting our eating out and this recipe will help when the cravings start. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!

    And BOO! to Mike and his meanness, shame on you!! :(

    I also want to encourage you to keep posting your recipes, because everyone I have tried turned out wonderful. Thank you for sharing tasty recipes.

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  9. Hi Denise,

    I'm glad to hear this. Thank you!

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  10. Pinned this one. I can almost taste it. So glad you mentioned that you rinse your meat. I learned that from Mrs. George Trask when I worked with her in the kitchen at Camp Macedonia in Ila. Once she crumbled and browned her meat really well, she would add just the right amount of water to the pan, stir, then drain and rinse. She also made many of her sauces, seasonings, and soup bases from scratch. One of the secrets to her spaghetti sauce was carrots. She grew most of her vegetables. She would puree fresh peppers, carrots, and tomatoes to add to her homemade spaghetti sauce. This same puree was used in her chili. Added a different layer of flavor. No one knew!!! (Except for those of us who were blessed to work with her in the kitchen)

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  11. I did not know that about the carrots. I am going to have to try adding carrots the next time I make spaghetti sauce. I hope you try this recipe, we love it!

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  12. I tried for years to duplicate this wonderful chili. Then the discovered they sell it by the can. Go to their website and visit the gift shop. The real deal.

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  13. Learned this trick a few years ago on cooking the meat....instead of chop, chop, chopping the meat, add about 1/2 cup of water when browning and keep breaking the meat up and it will end up in the little beads you want. Almost boiling the meat. Drain the water and fat off and you have the perfect meat consistency to add the other ingredients.

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  14. I don't know why I didn't think about adding water while cooking the meat, but it would definitely work. Thank you for mentioning this.

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  15. What brand weiners should I use?

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  16. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond, Susan. Use whatever brand of hot dogs your family likes.

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  17. The label on a can of Varsity chili lists onions 3 times. Fresh, dehydrated and powdered. This recipe likely contains powdered as part of the seasonings and possibly dehydrated, but not fresh. Did you try a version with fresh onions? I'm anxious to give this a try. May add onions to half the batch and see how it turns out.

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  18. Roger, I have not since we eat onions on the hot dogs themselves. If you try, please let me know how it turns out.

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  19. A potato masher breaks the meat up beautifully. But, yes, adding the water is the way to go.

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  20. Would you believe I don't own a potato masher? I don't. I may have to write a post explaining why I don't own one. Thanks for visiting, Dean.

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