The Chicago Dog is more than just a great hot dog; it’s a taste of Chicago’s rich culinary history! I’ll show you how to make them, step by step!
A Chicago-style hot dog is not just a hot dog, it’s a vibrant mix of toppings that includes yellow mustard, sweet green relish, chopped onions, tomato slices, a dill pickle spear, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. The combination of these toppings creates a unique flavor profile that’s tangy, sweet, and savory all at once.
Today I’m honoring the city with the most Great Island fans ~ the great city of Chicago! That’s right, more of you visit the Great Island kitchen from Chicago than from any other city in the world. What better way to say thank you than to cook up some classic Chicago hot dogs? Let’s get to it!
did you know?
The Chicago-style hot dog dates back to the early 20th century when European immigrants from Germany and Austria-Hungary brought their sausage-making traditions to the city. The specific combination of toppings that make up the Chicago dog is said to have been popularized by street cart vendors during the 1930s, and the “Depression Sandwich,” as it was called then, evolved into what is now known as the Chicago-style hot dog sold all over Chicago, from hotdog stands to Wrigley Field.
ingredients for authentic Chicago hot dogs
To make an authentic Chicago-style hot dog, you will need specific ingredients, including the type of hotdog. Here are the key elements for a Chicago dog:
- The bun: a steamed poppy seed bun is traditional for a Chicago-style hot dog. The origins of the poppy seed bun can be traced back to the influx of Eastern European immigrants who settled in Chicago in the early 20th century.
- The hotdog: traditionally a natural-casing all-beef hot dog, which has a snappier texture than a skinless hot dog. That classic ‘snap‘ when you bite into it is part of the appeal! Vienna Beef is a popular brand in Chicago.
- The toppings: the classic Chicago dog is loaded with the following toppings:
- Mustard: yellow mustard is the traditional choice for a Chicago-style hot dog.
- Sweet pickle relish: use bright green sweet pickle relish.
- Chopped onions: finely chopped white or yellow onions.
- Tomato slices: use fresh, ripe tomato slices.
- Pickle spear: a dill pickle spear adds a tangy crunch.
- Sport peppers: these are small, spicy pickled peppers. If you can’t find sport peppers, you can substitute pickled jalapeños.
- Celery salt: sprinkle some celery salt over the assembled hot dog. This is an essential seasoning for a Chicago dog.
what kind of hot dog for Chicago dogs?
When it comes to hot dogs for a Chicago dog, popular brands like Vienna Beef and Red Hot Chicago are commonly used and closely associated with the traditional flavor. Look for all-beef hot dogs with natural casings, as they provide a snap when you bite into them, adding to the authentic experience.
how to layer a traditional Chicago hot dog
Here’s the layering details for a traditional Chicago hot dog, in the
recommended required order:
- Poppy Seed Bun: steamed.
- All Beef Hot Dog: steamed.
- Yellow Mustard: apply a stripe of yellow mustard along the entire length of the hot dog.
- Sweet Pickle Relish: add a generous amount of bright green sweet pickle relish.
- Chopped Onions: sprinkle finely chopped white onions on top of the hot dog.
- Tomato Slices: typically, two slices of tomato are used, but I used just one.
- Take one slice of tomato and cut it into 2 half moons.
- Place the two pieces against one side of the hotdog, along the bun.
- Pickle Spear: add a dill pickle spear on the other side of the hot dog, opposite the tomatoes.
- Sport Peppers: arrange 2-3 sport peppers (small, hot pickled peppers) between the tomato slices and the pickle spear.
- Celery Salt: sprinkle a good pinch of celery salt over the entire hot dog.
It’s important to note that ketchup is traditionally not included on a Chicago hot dog, and it’s considered a culinary faux pas in the city’s hot dog culture!
what the heck’s a sport pepper?
The Chicago style hot dog seems straightforward enough, and you might be all set to layer one up but for one little snag…what’s a sport pepper? Sport peppers are small pointy peppers similar to tabasco or pepperoncini peppers. They’re hot, and sold pickled, in jars, but you may have a hard time finding them outside Chicago (where they’re everywhere!) They’re used as a topping for hot dogs, sausage sandwiches, and burgers, and are also commonly used in salads, pastas, and pizzas. Some even use them as a garnish for cocktails and Bloody Marys.
What can you substitute for sport peppers? Try pickled jalapeños, or pepperoncini.
Chicago Hot Dogs
- 4 all-beef hot dogs, steamed* is traditional, but grill or fry if you prefer.
- 4 poppy seed buns, steamed** or toasted.
- yellow mustard
- sweet relish
- finely chopped onion
- 4 slices of tomato
- 4 dill pickle spears
- 8 sport peppers
- 1 tsp celery salt
- Place a hot dog in each poppy seed bun.
- Run a ribbon of yellow mustard down the length of each hot dog.
- Top with sweet relish.
- Add chopped onions over the relish.
- Cut each tomato slice in half, and arrange the two halves against one side of each hot dog, along the bun.
- Place the dill pickle spear along the hot dog on the opposite side from the tomatoes.
- Add sport peppers on top of the hot dog.
- Sprinkle a good pinch of celery salt over everything and serve asap!!
- Add an inch or two of water to a pot, and bring it to a boil.
- Place the hot dogs in a steamer basket or on a rack (without water touching) and steam, partially covered, for 5-7 minutes until heated through.
- Prepare a steamer: Fill a pot or steamer with a couple of inches of water and bring it to a simmer.
- Wrap the buns: Wrap the hot dog buns loosely in aluminum foil, making sure they are sealed but leaving a bit of space inside for steam circulation.
- Steam the buns: Place the wrapped buns in the steamer basket or directly on the steaming tray, ensuring they are not tightly packed. Put the lid on the pot or cover the steamer.
- Steam for a few minutes: Steam the buns for about 2-3 minutes, or until they are heated through and soft.
- Remove and serve: Carefully remove the steamed buns from the steamer using tongs or a fork. Unwrap them from the foil and serve immediately.