Chicago Hot Dogs Recipe

Chicago hot dogs

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 23 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 hot dogs
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
432 Calories
21g Fat
48g Carbs
15g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 432
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 8g 38%
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 1380mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 48g 18%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 48mg 238%
Calcium 173mg 13%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 496mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Sausages have long been a Chicago tradition, having come to the city with German immigrants as early as the 1850s. As the town grew and people attended baseball games, the lakefront, and theater, street food vendors filled their needs with sausages and "red hots," later called "hot dogs." The original Chicago dogs are made with all-beef hot dogs, poppy seed buns, and a bold array of toppings. Along with mustard and a particular Chicago-style relish, toppings include a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges, sport peppers, and a sprinkle of celery salt.

If you don't live in Chicago, you might have a hard time finding the sport peppers. You can replace the sport peppers with pickled jalapenos or milder pepperoncini peppers, and you can make poppy seed rolls with melted butter or simple egg wash and poppy seeds.

Many side dishes go with hot dogs. Serve Chicago dogs with chips and your favorite coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, or a lighter tossed green salad. Fries, roasted potatoes, and steamed or grilled corn on the cob are excellent choices for hot dogs. The hot dogs are perfect for July 4th, Memorial Day, and Labor Day cookouts, or add them to your tailgating menu.

"This Chicago hot dog is loaded with fun and flavor! Overstuffed with lots of spicy, sweet, tart, and hot ingredients, you might just need a knife and fork to eat it. The celery salt adds a potent punch, and even more flavor." —Diana Andrews

Chicago Hot Dogs Recipe/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 4 all-beef hot dogs

  • 4 hot dog buns, poppy seed or plain

  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges

  • 4 dill pickle spears

  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

  • 4 teaspoons yellow mustard, more to taste

  • 1/4 cup diced onion

  • 8 pickled sport peppers

  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Chicago hot dogs

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Put enough water in a medium saucepan to reach the bottom of a steamer basket. When the water boils, reduce the heat to medium and add the hot dogs to the basket. Cover with a lid, and steam until hot, 5 to 7 minutes.

    Cooked hot dogs in a steamer basket

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Place the buns over the hot dogs, cover the pan, and steam until the buns are warmed through, about 30 seconds.

    Hot dogs and buns in a steamer basket

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. On a serving platter or on individual plates, place a hot dog in each bun. Nestle 2 tomato wedges on one side of each hot dog and a pickle spear on the opposite side.

    A hot dog with tomato and pickle

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Top each hot dog with 1 tablespoon of relish, then squirt the mustard over the tops in a zig-zag pattern.

    Hot dog topped with relish and mustard

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Sprinkle each hot dog with 1 tablespoon of diced onion.

    Diced onion added to the hot dog

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Top each hot dog with 2 sport peppers and finish with a light sprinkling of celery salt. Serve immediately.

    A Chicago hot dog topped with sport peppers and celery salt

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


Use a top-split style hot dog bun, which is split at the top instead of on the side. They'll stand up straight while you're filling the bun with lots of ingredients.

Recipe Variations

  • Replace the sweet relish with a Chicago-style neon relish. To make a substitute for neon relish, add 1 drop of liquid blue food coloring and 1 drop of liquid green food coloring to everyday sweet pickle relish.
  • For the poppy seed buns, brush the tops of plain hot dog buns with melted butter or an egg wash made with 1 egg white and 2 teaspoons of water. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 5 minutes.
  • Small mild or hot pepperoncini peppers or pickled jalapenos are good substitutes for sport peppers.

How to Store and Freeze Cooked Hot Dogs

  • Refrigerate any extra cooked hot dogs within 2 hours and eat within 3 to 4 days.
  • To reheat cooked hot dogs, place them in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake in a preheated 350 F oven until they reach 165 F, about 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, steam the hot dogs until they reach 165 F.
  • To freeze leftover cooked hot dogs, place them in a freezer container or resealable freezer bag and freeze for 1 to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

What is a sport pepper?

Sport peppers are small green or yellow hot peppers that range between 10,000 and 23,000 units on the Scoville scale. Pickled sport peppers are primarily used to top Chicago hot dogs and may be added to any dish calling for medium-heat peppers.

What is sweet relish?

There are several sweet relishes, including cucumber relish, hot dog relish, piccalilli, and chow chow. Chicago sweet relish is a cucumber relish with some red peppers, seasonings, and color.

What's the difference between a New York hot dog and Chicago hot dog?

Like the Chicago dogs, New York hot dogs use beef hot dogs. Instead of vegetable and condiment toppings, New York hot dogs include a cooked onion sauce, spicy mustard, and sauerkraut.