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Best Hot Dago Recipe

I’ve always found food to be a powerful connector to culture and heritage, and the hot dago sandwich is a perfect example of this connection.

This Italian-American classic originated in the neighborhoods of Minnesota and has since become a beloved regional dish. It’s a comforting sandwich that combines savory Italian sausage with sweet marinara sauce, all tucked between slices of bread and topped with melted cheese.

Hot Dago recipe

Making a hot dago at home is a delightful and satisfying endeavor. The key elements include forming patties from a well-seasoned mixture of ground meat — often a combination of beef and Italian sausage — then searing them to develop a rich flavor. The final touch of the hot dago is the marinara sauce, a tomato-based sauce simmered with herbs, which is spooned over the cooked patties.

Selecting the right bread is crucial; it should be sturdy enough to hold the ingredients without becoming soggy. Cheese is the finishing flourish, typically mozzarella or provolone, melted to a gooey perfection. The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity and the joy it brings to those who gather around the table to share in its flavors.

5 Reasons Why This Is The Best Hot Dago Recipe You’ll Ever Make

  1. Flavorful Meats: I use a combination of mild and hot Italian sausage, which creates a perfect balance of heat and savory notes. It’s a meat lover’s dream come true, and each bite ensures a burst of well-blended Italian flavors.

  2. Perfectly Toasted Buns: For that irresistible crunch, I ensure the Kaiser buns are toasted to a golden-brown hue that not only adds texture but also holds up well under the hearty toppings.

  3. Cheesy Goodness: The layer of melty mozzarella or provolone cheese adds a gooey, stretchy element that is simply divine. I place the cheese right under the hot patty so it melts just enough to create that perfect cheese pull with every bite.

  4. Saucy Topping: I don’t skimp on the marinara. Generous amounts of rich, flavorful tomato sauce or Ragu are ladled over the meat, soaking into the bread and mingling with the cheese, tying all the flavors together beautifully.

  5. The Seasoning: The spices I toss in make all the difference. A touch of black pepper and celery salt keeps it delightfully seasoned without overtaking the natural flavors of the ingredients, ensuring each mouthful is nothing short of spectacular.

Ingredients You’ll Need

To whip up this comforting and flavorsome hot dago sandwich, I gather a selection of simple but key ingredients. It’s like bringing a bit of Italy into my kitchen, and soon, it’ll be in yours too! Here’s what we’ll need:


  • 1 pound of Italian sausage or ground beef. This will be the star of our sandwich so I like to go for quality here.


  • 1 large onion, finely chopped. It adds a lovely sweetness when cooked down.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced. Because what’s an Italian dish without garlic?


  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, to bring all those classic herby notes.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Bread and Cheese:

  • 4 hamburger buns or a loaf of Italian bread sliced into thick pieces. A good sturdy bread makes all the difference.
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese. It melts beautifully and complements the meat perfectly.


  • Tomato sauce or marinara sauce for smothering over our patty. Pick a sauce that’s rich and full of tomato flavor.

I ensure my ingredients are laid out before I begin. It makes the process smoother, and getting everything ready in advance means there’s less of a rush when it’s time to cook. Let’s get ready to impress with this dish!

How To Make Hot Dago Sandwich

When I make a Hot Dago sandwich, the key is to start with quality ingredients. Here’s how I prepare this mouthwatering dish:


  • 1 lb ground mild Italian sausage
  • 1 lb ground hot Italian sausage
  • For the meat mixture:
    • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
    • 1/2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
    • 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds
    • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • For the sandwich:
    • 4 slices of provolone cheese
    • 4 hamburger buns
    • Tomato sauce or marinara sauce


  1. Preparation: I begin by mixing the ground mild and hot Italian sausage in a bowl with chopped garlic, Italian Seasoning, and fennel seeds. Then, I stir in the bread crumbs to help bind the mixture together.

  2. Forming Patties: I divide the meat mixture into four equal portions and shape them into patties, ensuring they are not too thick so they cook evenly.

  3. Cooking Patties: Using a skillet over medium heat, I cook the patties until they’re browned and cooked through, usually about 5-6 minutes per side.

  4. Assembling: While the patties are still hot, I place a slice of provolone cheese on each one to melt. I lightly toast the hamburger buns and then spoon a generous amount of marinara sauce over the bottom halves.

  5. Serving: I lay a cheese-topped patty on each sauced bun bottom, cap it with the top bun, and serve immediately.

Remember to cook the patties thoroughly to a safe internal temperature and enjoy your flavorful sandwich creation!

Tips & Tricks

When I make a Hot Dago, I find that preparation is key. I like to start by gathering all my ingredients and tools so everything is within reach. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Meat Quality: Always use high-quality ground beef or pork to ensure your patties are flavorful and juicy. I typically opt for meat with a bit of fat content, as it adds to the taste and prevents the patties from drying out.

  • Spices: Fresh herbs and spices can make a world of difference. I prefer mincing my own garlic and chopping fresh herbs for my Hot Dagos, as they give a more robust flavor compared to their dried counterparts.

  • Cooking Technique:

    • Heat your pan before adding the patties; a good sizzle means your meat will get a delicious sear.
    • I recommend using a cast iron skillet for that perfect crust.
  • Cheese Selection: While mozzarella is a classic choice for its meltiness and mild flavor, don’t be afraid to try different cheeses like provolone or pepper jack for a bit of a twist.

  • Toast Your Bread: Lightly toasting the bread adds texture and prevents it from getting soggy. I butter both sides of the bread slices and toast them in the pan before assembling the sandwich.

  • Sauce Savvy: A sweet and tangy marinara sauce complements the patty perfectly. Simmering the sauce beforehand can help enhance its flavors.

  • Assembly: Ensure every bite has a good balance of meat, sauce, and cheese by evenly distributing the ingredients on your toasted bread.

Remember to have fun and experiment! Cooking is about making the recipe your own, and the Hot Dago offers a perfect canvas for your personal culinary flair.

Storing, Freezing & Reheating

When I make a delicious Hot Dago sandwich, ensuring it stays fresh and tasty is important to me. Here’s how I handle storing, freezing, and reheating:

After the meal, if I have leftovers, I wrap the patties and sauce separately in airtight containers and store them in the refrigerator. They should be good for up to 3 or 4 days.

  • Wrap patties individually in plastic wrap.
  • Place sauce in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Refrigerate both promptly.

If I know I’ve made too much, freezing is a great option for longer preservation.

  1. Cool the patties and sauce completely.
  2. Wrap patties with freezer-safe wrap.
  3. Pour sauce into a freezer-safe bag or container.
  4. Label with the date, and they’ll be good for about 3 months.

I always make sure to reheat my Hot Dago to ensure it’s just as delicious as when it was first made.

For Patties:

  • Thaw overnight in the fridge if frozen.
  • Reheat in a pan over medium heat until warmed through.
  • Alternatively, use a microwave, covering the patty with a damp paper towel to keep it moist.

For Sauce:

  • Thaw overnight if needed.
  • Warm on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • In a microwave, use a microwave-safe container and heat in short intervals, stirring in between.

Remember that bread and cheese are best added fresh when serving!