Chicago Hot Dog

Makes 4 Dogs
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.


  • 4 hot dog buns, split open
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 4 all-beef hot dogs (see headnote)
  • 4 dill pickle spears
  • 1 tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  • About 1½ tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 4 jarred peperoncini
  • Celery salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Brush the outside of the buns with the butter and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Put on a baking sheet, cut side down, and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, simmer the hot dogs in the pot of water to heat through, about 8 minutes.
  4. Place a hot dog in each bun. Place a pickle spear on one side and 2 tomato wedges on the other of each hot dog. Squirt or drizzle the mustard in a zigzag pattern over the dogs. Spoon a dollop of relish onto each one, and scatter some of the white onion over each one. Place a peperoncini on top of each hot dog, sprinkle with celery salt, and serve.
cook's note
You can make up a platter of the dogs, but it's also fun to arrange the toppings in bowls and let your friend do the rest.

There is a “weenie war” in Chicago between the main two purveyors of the famous red hot dogs: Vienna Beef vs Chicago Red Hot. Choose your weapon:

(where you can also procure the authentic condiments)

Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list: