Chicago Hot Dogs Recipe

chicago hot dogs

The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

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 1379mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 48g 17%
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 neon green relish or sport peppers. Aside from buying the ingredients online, there are a few ways to improvise with simple substitutions. 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. To turn everyday sweet pickle relish into Chicago "neon green" relish, all you have to do is add 1 drop each of blue and green food coloring.

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.


  • 4 all—beef hot dogs

  • 4 hot dog buns, poppy seed or plain

  • 4 dill pickle spears

  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges

  • 4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

  • 1/4 cup diced onion

  • 4 teaspoons yellow mustard

  • 8 pickled sport peppers

  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Fill a medium saucepan with about 2 inches of water, then place a steaming basket in the pan and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the hot dogs to the basket, cover with a lid, and steam until hot, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the buns over the hot dogs, cover the pan, and cook until the buns are warmed, about 30 seconds.

  3. Place a hot dog in each bun, then nestle 2 tomato wedges alongside each hot dog and a pickle spear along the opposite side.

  4. Top each hot dog with about 1 tablespoon of relish, then squirt mustard over top in a zig-zag pattern.

  5. Sprinkle each hot dog with about 1 tablespoon of diced onion.

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

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 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.