I’m sure most of you are familiar with LA street dogs, but have you ever had a Sonoran style hot dog? Originating in the city of Hermosillo, Sonora, these hot dogs were popularized in Tucson, Arizona by Mexican immigrants.
I personally have never been to Sonora, but I have tried Sonoran style hot dogs in Tucson, Arizona. This recipe is inspired by the Sonoran hot dogs I tried at El Guero Canelo, which is famous for these dogos!
What is a Sonoran style hot dog?
I’d say there are two main things that characterize a Sonoran hot dog- the type of bun that is used and the addition of cooked beans as a topping.
Of course there will be variations of this type of hot dog, but I’ve found that these ingredients are the most commonly used when it comes to Sonoran hot dogs.
Like most Mexican style hot dogs, they are bacon wrapped and grilled with thinly sliced onions and peppers. Jalapenos and some yellow chili peppers are then used to make a jalapeno salsa as one of the condiments. Mayo and mustard are also used. For toppings, it will be cooked beans, raw & grilled onions, raw tomatoes, and blistered yellow chili peppers on the side.
Regular hot dog buns are not used for Sonoran hot dogs! Instead, a soft bolillo that is specifically made for dogos is used. However, these can be really difficult to find outside of Sonora. I wasn’t able to find any (I thought about making them myself but that was too much effort for me), so I found some brioche style hot dog buns that worked great.
Hot dogs- beef hot dogs are traditionally used, but I sometimes make these with hot links (sausage) or a specialty hot dog like jalapeno & cheddar. Use whatever you like!
Bacon- any regular flavored bacon will work. Do not use applewood, maple, or any other specialty flavors of bacon because it will drastically change the taste.
Soft bolillo buns- Sonoran hot dogs are known for being served in a soft bolillo that is specifically made for dogos, always steamed not grilled! It is not the same kind of bolillo that you typically see in large amounts at a panaderia. This distinction is particularly important because it is a soft enclosed bun, making it easier to fit all the toppings. But, they are hard to find- even living in Southern California I wasn’t able to find any, so I just used a brioche hot dog bun instead. The closest kind I could find to the real thing is available at Walmart (pictured below). You can also just use regular hot dog buns!
Cooked beans- I’ve never been to Sonora so I am not sure if this is authentic or just unique to Tucson Arizona, but one of the key characteristics of the Sonoran hot dog that I know, is that is has frijoles. You can use canned pinto beans to save time if you want. I made a simple frijoles de la olla- it takes some time to make but it’s really easy and tastes much better than the canned stuff.
Other toppings- grilled onions, raw onions, raw tomatoes, and a blistered yellow chili pepper on the side is a must!
Condiments- mustard, jalapeno salsa, and mayo thinned out with a little bit of lime juice. I am not sure if ketchup is common, but my guess is that the street vendors have it available for anyone that wants to add it!
I am refraining from using the term “authentic” to describe this recipe because the truth is, there isn’t one absolute “right” way to make them. I’ve spoken with several Sonoran natives and they all seem to have a slightly different version of what they know as a Sonoran hot dog. Here is a list of other ingredients that I’ve seen:
pico de gallo
Sonoran style hot dog vs. LA street dog
Most people are much more familiar with the LA Street Dog, also known as Danger Dogs. These are supposed to be a riff of the Sonoran hot dog, but is very different from the OG!
LA Street Dogs are typically made with bacon wrapped hot dogs, grilled onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos, topped with ketchup, mayo, and mustard. One of the biggest differences is the use of regular hot dog buns, which explains why this version has less toppings than the original. The regular hot dog buns cannot hold the original ingredients quite as well as the bolillos do.
There are hundreds of mobile street carts in LA that sell these hot dogs outside of night clubs, sporting venues, concerts, and other large events. I have especially frequented these carts after a night of clubbing in my younger days! The smell when you walk out of the club is much too irresistible- It smacks you right in the face with the drunchies and what a glorious, sobering meal it is!
Sonoran Hot Dogs
- 4 hot dogs
- 4 slices of bacon
- 4 soft bolillo buns or brioche hot dog buns
- 1/2 cup dried pinto beans or 1 can pinto beans
- 1/4 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 tsp dried epazote or Mexican oregano
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 jalapeno
- salt to taste
- 1/4 diced raw onion
- 1 large tomato deseeded & diced
- 1 onion thinly sliced and grilled
- 4 grilled yellow chili peppers
- mayonnaise with lime juice
- jalapeno salsa
- 3 jalapenos
- 1 yellow chili pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 lime
- grilled onions
To make the frijoles:
- *If using canned beans, you can skip these steps and just heat through in a saucepan. Rinse & soak the pinto beans in water over night, picking out any beans that are browned or deformed.
- Boil the beans in a pot with some fresh water, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, dried epazote or Mexican oregano, and salt to taste. Boil uncovered on medium low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding water as needed.
- The beans are ready when the bean water has thickened and the beans are easily squished between your fingers.
- Prepare all the toppings- dice some onions and tomatoes and set aside. Thinly slice some onions for grilling, and cut the jalapenos and 1 yellow chili pepper in half. You'll also need 2 limes, a small handful of cilantro, and 1 garlic clove.
- Tightly wrap the hotdogs with bacon strips.
- Cook the bacon wrapped hot dogs in a large pan over medium heat.
- Turn the hot dogs over, and when enough of the bacon oil has been released into the pan, add the sliced onions & peppers. Continuously flip the hot dogs over as they cook, and once the peppers have started to blister, add the garlic clove.
- Remove everything from the pan once cooked through, except for most of the onions (take out a small amount of the grilled onions to make our jalapeno salsa).
- Sauté the onions just a little bit longer with some mustard (optional- I see a lot of vendors doing this at their cart and I think it adds great flavor to the onions!)
- To make the jalapeno salsa, combine the cilantro, grilled jalapenos, 1 grilled yellow pepper, garlic, some of the grilled onions, juice from 1 lime, salt to taste, and a little water.
- Blend until smooth
- Steam the bolillo or hot dog buns by wrapping them in a dampened paper towel and microwaving for 10 seconds.
- Build your Sonoran dog: Add a layer of the lime/mayo in the bun first, then the bacon wrapped hot dogs, then the frijoles, raw tomatoes & onions, more mayo, grilled onions, mustard, and jalapeno salsa. Serve with grilled yellow chili peppers on the side.