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Chicago Hot Dog Recipe


The Chicago hot dog can be easily recreated at home with a little preparation and attention to detail. Here's how to make a Chicago hot dog to tame your cravings until your next visit to the Windy City.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes


  • 8 all beef hot dogs
  • 8 poppyseed hot dog buns
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • 8 pickle spears
  • Yellow mustard
  • Sport peppers (optional)
  • Celery Salt (optional)
  • Cucumber slices (optional)


Some notes on the ingredients: first, it's very important that you use an all beef hot dog -- no self-respecting Chicago hot dog stand would serve hot dogs with pork or other fillers. Also make sure to use plain yellow mustard -- now's not the time to be getting all fancy. Whatever variety of pickles you use should be mild in flavor, with a good crunch. The relish on a Chicago hot dog is famously an unnatural shade of bright green and if you can find that, great, if not any good sweet relish will be fine. Sport peppers are readily found in your grocery stores "ethnic" aisle (generally in the Italian section by the jars of giardiniera, roasted red peppers, etc.) or by the deli section. Lastly, poppy seed hot dog buns are not always available in every region of the United States, so plain ones can be substituted.

On to the preparation. The key to a Chicago style hot dog is to steam both the dog and the bun. A Chicago hot dog is NEVER boiled! Place a steamer basket into a dutch oven and fill with water, keeping the water level just below the basket. Bring water to a simmer. Place hot dogs in basket, cover, and steam for 5-7 minutes until heated through. To steam the buns, carefully remove the cover and place the buns on top of the hot dogs for the last 2 minutes of steaming. If you want to make what's known here as a "chardog", grilling the hot dog for approximately 4-5 minutes is an acceptable alternative.

Place a hot dog in a bun and begin assembly remembering, as they say, "dress the dog, not the bun." Squeeze a small amount of yellow mustard across the length of the hot dog. Add chopped onion and relish to taste. Then on goes the pickle spear and 2 tomato wedges. Take it all the way to Chicago-style nirvana with a few sport peppers and cucumber slices, then top it all off with a couple shakes of celery salt.

I suppose you can put on ketchup if you absolutely insist, just know that if you do you'll have made *something*, but it certainly won't be a Chicago hot dog.

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