Dish of the Week: The Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Warning: no ketchup allowed.
Warning: no ketchup allowed.
Photo by Jeremy Keith

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing one of the best ways to pump up your last days of summer hot dogs: The Chicago-Style Dog.

In Chicago, this iconic all-beef frankfurter gets steamed then dressed-to-the-nines. Served on a poppy seed bun, the dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, "sports peppers" (pickled peppers), tomato slices/wedges, and pickle spears. Of course, we can't forget the celery salt. Though we can forget the ketchup -- it's pretty much an unacceptable hot dog topping in Chicago.

But before Chicago started "dragging" its dogs "through the garden," the city revolutionized hot dog processing by perfecting dis-assembly lines in the mid-19th century. Soon after, these cheap meats were popularized among the Chicago working class, which eventually paved the way to the all-mighty Chicago dog.

Some believe it was Jewish immigrants who influenced the all-beef wiener and poppy seed bun, while Italians and Greeks may have contributed the tomato, onions, pickled peppers, and relish. And because many early immigrants worked their own celery farms, celery salt was added to the mix.

The Chicago-style dog became an icon during the Great Depression, where Fluky's hot dog stand on the historic Maxwell Street began offering the "Depression Sandwich" for a nickel. The fully loaded number was a hit and soon the idea spread with hot dog stands popping up all over the city. Today, there are over 1,800 hot dog vendors in Chicago, many of which will NOT serve you ketchup.

Everyone has their favorite version, but mostly the result is the same: a juicy, beefy dog topped with a sweet, spicy, and zesty crunch. Below you'll find a classic Chicago-style dog, but feel free to throw on a handful of fresh-cut fries. We won't judge you. Classic Chicago-Style Dog

Ingredients Poppy seed buns* All-beef hot dogs, preferably in natural casing Dill pickle spears (1 per dog) Tomato wedges (2 per dog) Yellow mustard Sweet relish Diced white onion (about 1 small onion for 6 to 8 dogs) Sport peppers or peperoncini (1 or 2 per dog) Celery salt

*If you can't find 'em, use regular buns and brush on poppy seeds with butter and bake until just warm. And if you're feeling really wild, you can always make your own.


If you have a steamer, steam the dogs until warm, about 5-6 minutes. Add the buns on top and steam for another minute or so until warmed. Otherwise, slightly warm the buns in a 300 degree oven, about 5 minutes. Place hot dogs in boiling water until warmed, about 5 minutes.

Arrange hot dogs inside warmed buns, with one pickle spear on one side and two tomato wedges on the other. Squirt mustard in a zig zag across each dog. Top with a dollop of relish, chopped white onions, and one or two sport peppers.

Finish with a dash of celery salt and eat your heart out.

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