Chicago Hot Dogs

Chicago Hot Dog

Vendor after vendor I visited along the shores of Lake Michigan left me with no doubt as to what constitutes an original Chicago hot dog. I will not be accused of riffing on this one. The essentials are a Chicago red hot dog (simmer the hot dogs with a beet if you can’t find these at your local store), a poppy seed bun (not easy to find), authentic neon-green relish (also not easy to find), and celery salt. And never, ever, use ketchup.–Lucinda Scala Quinn

LC A You Original Note

Okay, so this is how they do their dogs in the Windy City. Or so we’re told by this author. We’ve actually had a little contention brewing, with Chicagoans telling us that it must be sport peppers and not pepperoncini on their dogs, which is actually something we’d heard before. So use whichever you please. What we really want to know is how YOU do YOUR dogs. Tell us all about your original dog in a comment below. C’mon, ‘fess up. Crushed potato chips? Shaved truffles? Grape jelly? Oh boy, we can’t wait to hear.

Chicago Hot Dog

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 10 M
  • 20 M
  • Makes 4 dogs
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Brush the outside of the buns with the butter and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Place them on a baking sheet, cut-side down, and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, simmer the hot dogs in the pot of water until heated through, about 8 minutes.

Place a hot dog in each bun. Place a pickle spear on 1 side of each hot dog and 2 tomato wedges on the other side. Squirt or drizzle the mustard in a zigzag pattern over the hot dogs. Spoon a dollop of relish onto each one, and scatter some white onion over each one. Place a pepperoncini on top of each hot dog, sprinkle with celery salt, and serve.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I’ve always been curious about the dragged-through-the-garden Chicago-style hot dog. I’m a die-hard ketchup fan (I know I risk my life saying that), but I loved this version. Though this is more a set of assembly instructions than a recipe, the result is still delicious. Tangy, a little sweet, crunchy, some heat…what more could a summer meal want.

This was my first Chicago-style hot dog and I really enjoyed it, so it won’t be my last. Here in North Carolina, if you ask for a hot dog all the way, you get slaw, chili, mustard, and onions. I’m not much for eating chili on mine, and have mine without chili even when I make it at home. I couldn’t convince hubby to try the Chicago dog, but my son and I enjoyed ours. I don’t care that much for sweet pickle relish, but it worked with all the other ingredients and I liked the way the buns were toasted with the butter and poppy seeds. I used Nathan’s all-beef hot dogs.


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  1. There are two famous hot dogs in Chicago. Gene & Jude’s (voted the best hot dog in the US in one survey and the top ten in another) and Portillo’s. They both use the top end Vienna Beef Dog (there is more than one grade) and they stand up to steaming. You probably can get them anywhere if you have a friend in the restaurant business because Sysco distributes them. Sara Lee is not the original bun as it has no poppy seeds and can’t hold up to a few minutes of steaming. Lots of Chicago Dogs omit the poppy seeds, but a good quality bun is essential. Sysco also carries Alpha Baking Company’s hot dog buns with or without the poppy seeds. The pickles are usually fresh refrigerator pickles, closer to the cucumber side of life than a dill. S. Rosen’s Bakery in Chicago supplies 90% of the hot dog buns in Chicago and yes the poppy seed ones. If you want a Chicago Dog you want Vienna Beef and the right bun. Anything else is not a Chicago Dog.

  2. She’s ba-ack! I just wanted to say that Rainbo brand makes a “gourmet seeded coney” that’s extra large, wide enough to hold more stuff but not as wide as a sub/hoagie roll. As I understand it, the brand originated in Chicago, so that may be the authentic bun.

    It was owned by SaraLee but was sold to Grupo Bimbo in 2010 (got this info from wikipedia), a company in Mexico that owns a lot of former US brands. I don’t know where Rainbo breads are available, other than here in California, but if they have them in your area, go for what appears to be the real deal for your Chicago-style dog. 😉

    Rainbo Gourmet Seeded Hot Dog Buns

  3. Ah. The Big Agency Hot Dog. Those were the days. Heh.

    Imagine a regular size hot dog bun with one of those skinny footlongs in it, then all the toppings you wanted at one low price! Many a time I succumbed to the lure of hot dog, chili, cheese, onions, peppers and sauerkraut. Oh, man is that a flavor bomb. Fortunately, my stomach didn’t have problems with that combo. Still love it, but too much trouble to assemble everything, i.e., make chili most of the time. But, when there is leftover chili and available sauerkraut, the rest is a piece of cake…so to speak. 😉

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