The Chicago-Style Hot Dog

The 'Classic' Chicago Dog

authentic Chicago hot dog

Close your eyes and picture a Chicago dog, and this is probably what you'll see. Tomato slices, dill pickle spears, and celery salt have joined the fray, along with that poppy seed-encrusted bun. This is the fully-loaded, dragged-through-the-garden hot dog most often seen on sausage paraphernalia, and it's easy to see why. When properly constructed, this version of the Chicago dog, with all seven-toppings accounted for, is a true feast for the eyes. It is beautiful.

Make your own

Ingredients:

  • 1 Vienna beef hot dog
  • onions (chopped)
  • 1 poppy seed bun
  • tomatoes (sliced)
  • ¼ dill pickle
  • hot peppers (2 whole)
  • cucumber slices (optional)
  • mustard
  • relish
  • celery salt

Directions:

Boil the hot dog, steam the poppy-seed bun and top with mustard, relish, onions, tomato slices, pickle, hot peppers and a dash of celery salt.

Hot dog, source Joe Campagna
Toppings
yellow mustard, chopped white onion, neon green relish, tomato slices, kosher dill pickle spear, "sport peppers", celery salt
Bun
poppy seed bun
Dog
Steamed, natural casing Vienna Beef hot dog

Learn the Lingo

“The Works” - When ordering a Chicago Style Hot Dog it is important to understand the terminology. Probably the most important words are "works" and "everything". For example, the proper way to order your Dog is to say, "I'll take a Chicago Dog with the works" or "I'll take a dog with everything". First of all, it is important to say "Chicago Dog" when placing your order. This sends a clear message that you want an all beef Hot Dog served on a steamed poppy seed bun. When you say " with the works" or "with everything" you are saying that you want yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt on your Dog.

Tip: When it is your turn to order you better have an idea of what you want. Hot Dog establishments are usually very crowded and very fast paced. The person behind the counter expects you to know what you want. If you are not ready, let the person behind you place their order first.

“Snap” - When biting into an all beef Hot Dog, there should be slight resistance from the casing. The resistance is referred to as the "snap". For example, "it has the nice 'snap'.". Next time you have a Chicago Dog, impress your friends and family by taking a bite and commenting on the "snap".

“Dragged Through the Garden” - Chicago Dogs are sometimes described this way because of all the vegetables. You definitely would not say this while ordering.

“Depression Dog” - Some hot dog places serve a version of the Chicago Style hot dog which is known as a "depression dog". This minimalist variation is a natural casing all-beef hot dog served on a steamed plain bun (no poppy seeds) and usually only includes mustard, onion, sport peppers and sometimes relish. This is how Chicago Style hot dogs were originally served by street vendors during the Great Depression. The depression dog is often served with hand-cut french fries that get wrapped up with the dog. Along the way, other ingredients were added to create the classic Chicago Style hot dog we are familiar with today. There are many theories circulating as to how the Chicago dog evolved over the years to include poppy seeds, neon green relish, tomatoes, a pickle spear and celety salt.

Hot Doug's
Hot Doug's version of the Chicago Dog.  PHOTO: Nick-Kindelsperger