The Varsity's Chili Sauce - A Copy Cat Recipe

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 the recipe 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.

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.

The Varsity's Chili Sauce a Copy Cat Recipe

When experimenting with the recipes, I found that the national brand (McCormick)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.

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.

The Varsity's Chili Sauce a Copy Cat Recipe


  • 2 pounds ground meat

  • 1 small onion minced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder

  • 1/2 envelope chili seasoning (I use McCormick)

  • up to 1 cup water


Brown the ground meat and onion 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.