Chicago-style hot dog
Alternative namesChicago Red Hot
CourseMain course
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateChicago, Illinois
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsSausage, poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, white onion, sweet "neon green" pickle relish, pickled sport peppers (a variety of Capsicum annuum), tomatoes, kosher dill pickle spear, celery salt[1][2]
Chicago-style hot dog with duck-fat fries.
Chicago-style hot dog at Portillo's
A char-dog with ends cut cervelat-style

A Chicago-style hot dog, Chicago Dog, or Chicago Red Hot is an all-beef frankfurter[1][3] on a poppy seed bun,[4][5] originating from the city of Chicago, Illinois.[6][7] The hot dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers (a variety of Capsicum annuum), and a dash of celery salt.[1][8] The complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be "dragged through the garden" due to the many toppings.[9] The method for cooking the hot dog itself varies depending on the vendor's preference. Most often they are steamed, water-simmered, or less often grilled over charcoal (in which case they are referred to as "char-dogs").

The canonical recipe[1] does not include ketchup, and there is a widely shared, strong opinion among many Chicagoans and aficionados that ketchup is unacceptable.[10] A number of Chicago hot dog vendors do not offer ketchup as a condiment.[11]


The hot dog arrived in Chicago through Frankfurt from Vienna. Pork sausages have been known in Frankfurt since the 13th century. Sometime in the 19th century a butcher in Vienna added beef to the sausage mixture. He called this a "wiener-frankfurter". Eventually reaching Chicago, Franks served in buns became popular at fairs and baseball games. Reportedly the pork-free and kosher-style all beef frank was originated by Fluky's in 1929.[12] During the Great Depression they were sold for a nickel out of carts along Maxwell Street.[13] Two Austrian Hungarian immigrants sold their Vienna Beef franks at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.[13][14] Vienna Beef became a major producer of hot dogs and by the early 2000s was one of the major suppliers for hot dog carts.[15]

The celery salt is a result of the existence of many north side celery farms, even Lakeview being a celery farming area up until the 1920s.[16]


The "dragged through the garden" style is heavily promoted by Vienna Beef and Red Hot Chicago, the two most prominent Chicago hot dog manufacturers,[17] but exceptions are common, with vendors adding cucumber slices or lettuce,[1] omitting poppyseeds or celery salt, or using plain relish or a skinless hot dog.[18] Several popular hot dog stands serve a simpler version known as the "Depression Dog": a steamed natural-casing dog with only mustard, onions, plain relish and sport peppers, wrapped up with hand-cut french fries,[1] while the historic Superdawg drive-ins notably substitute a pickled tomato for fresh. Many vendors offer a Chicago-style dog with cheese sauce, known as a cheese-dog. Boz Hot Dogs locations offer a unique nacho cheese sauce with pieces of jalapeño peppers. Some vendors, such as Byron's Hot Dogs, add lettuce and cucumber to their Chicago-style dog.[19]


Chicago-style hot dogs are cooked in hot water or steamed before adding the toppings.[1][20] A less common style is cooked on a charcoal grill and referred to as a "char-dog". Char-dogs are easily identifiable because very often the ends of the dog are sliced in crisscross fashion before cooking, producing a distinctive cervelat-style "curled-x" shape as the dog cooks.[21] Some hot dog stands, such as The Wieners Circle,[22] only serve char-dogs.[23]

The typical beef hot dog weighs 18 pound (2.0 oz; 57 g), and the most traditional type features a natural casing, providing a distinctive "snap" when bitten.[24][25]

The buns are a high-gluten variety made to hold up to steam warming, typically the S. Rosen's Mary Ann brand from Alpha Baking Company.[4]

Chicago-style hot dog, made by Johnniebeefs restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah USA

The traditional "neon-green" relish is prepared by simply adding blue food coloring to sweet pickle relish until the natural yellow hue turns a deep green.[26]


The Chicago area has more hot dog restaurants than McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King restaurants combined.[14][12] A "hot dog stand" in Chicago may serve many other items, including the Maxwell Street Polish, gyros, pork chop and Italian beef sandwiches, corn dogs, tamales, pizza puffs and Italian ice. The restaurants often have unique names[27] or architectural features.

Popular and historic vendors

See also

Hot dog establishment in Chicago in 2003


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Zeldes, Leah A. (July 7, 2010). "Eat this! The Chicago hot dog, born in the Great Depression". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  2. ^ Vienna Beef hot dogs. "The Periodic Table of Vienna: Chicago Style Hot Dog Condiments". Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  3. ^ Sweet, Lynn. (June 10, 2010). "Chicago hot dogs at the White House". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on June 13, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2010. Chicago-style hot dogs are steamed
  4. ^ a b Zeldes, Leah A. (July 13, 2010). "It takes big buns to hold Chicago hot dogs". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  5. ^ Vettel, Phil (August 23, 2017). "A Chicago Hot Dog Ain't Right Without a Poppy Seed Bun. But Why?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Spina, Matthew (May 20, 2016). "A History of the Esteemed Chicago-Style Hot Dog", Thrillist. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  7. ^ Carruthers, John (March 31, 2015). "Mustard and Dreams: What It Takes to Run a Hot Dog Stand in Chicago", Serious Eats. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  8. ^ *Leroux, Charles (August 30, 2005). "Chicago hot dogs". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Co. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  9. ^ Zeldes, Leah A (September 30, 2002). "How to Eat Like a Chicagoan". Chicago's Restaurant Guide. Archived from the original on October 1, 2002. Retrieved September 30, 2002.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Zeldes, Leah A. (July 22, 2010). "Do only barbarians put ketchup on hot dogs?". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Zeldes, Leah A. (July 6, 2010). "The Chicago-style hot dog: 'A masterpiece'". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Archived from the original on November 27, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Bizzari, Amy (2016). Iconic Chicago Dishes, Drinks and Desserts. Arcadia. pp. 46–53. ISBN 9781467135511.
  14. ^ a b Weller, Sam (August 2002) [2000]. "Secret Hot Dogs". Secret Chicago. Photographs by Linda Rutenberg (2nd editition ed.). Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 113–116. ISBN 1-55022-493-X. two young immigrants from Austria-Hungary toted their secret frankfurter recipe to World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Today, the Vienna all-beef hot dog recipe is served up by 2,000 vendors across the city. In fact, there are more Vienna Beef wiener vendors in the city than there are Burger King, Wendy's, and McDonald's outlets combined.
  15. ^ Oxford Companion of Food and Drink in America
  16. ^ Eng, Monica (March 15, 2017). "Deconstructing the Chicago-Style Hot Dog". WBEZ. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  17. ^ Zeldes, Leah A. (June 21, 2011). "Hot dog makers around town". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  18. ^ Zeldes, Leah A. (June 21, 2011). "Even without trimmings, Chicago-style hot dog in league of its own". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  19. ^ "FRANKLY SPEAKING, BYRON'S IS A WINNER". Chicago Tribune. January 17, 1996. Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  20. ^ Fluky's. "How to Make Your own "Chicago Style Hot Dogs"". Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  21. ^ Meathead (July 1, 2009). "Hot Dog Road Trip: A Patriotic Party Plan". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  22. ^ "Chicago's Wiener's Circle Meets Its Match In Jack McBrayer, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog (Discretion Advised)". Chicagoist. June 15, 2012. Archived from the original on January 11, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  23. ^ "Five Guys Offers More Than Burgers. [dead link]
  24. ^ Smith, Kathie (May 1, 2007). "Chicago's food history". Toledo Blade. Block Communications. Archived from the original on December 9, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2007.
  25. ^ Zeldes, Leah A. (July 8, 2010). "Know your wiener!". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  26. ^ Wheeler, Jen (December 13, 2021). "The Untold Truth Of The Chicago-Style Hot Dog". Mashed. Static Media. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  27. ^ Zeldes, Leah A. (July 30, 2010). "Relishing Chicago's 10 funniest hot-dog joints". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.

Further reading