Chicago-style hot dog

Chicago-style hot dog
Alternative names Red Hot
Course Main course
Place of origin United States
Region or state Chicago, Illinois
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Beef, poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, white onion, sweet pickle relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, kosher dill pickle spear, celery salt[1][2]
Cookbook: Chicago-style hot dog  Media: Chicago-style hot dog
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] originating from the city of Chicago, Illinois.[5][6] 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 and a dash of celery salt.[1][7][8][9][10] The complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be "dragged through the garden" due to the many toppings.[11][12] 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.[13][14][15][16][17] A number of Chicago hot dog vendors do not offer ketchup as a condiment.[18]


Many sources attribute the distinctive collection of toppings on a Chicago-style wiener to historic Maxwell Street and the "Depression Sandwich" reportedly originated by Fluky's in 1929.[1][11] The founders of Vienna Beef frankfurters—the most common brand served today, first sold at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago[19][20][21]—and the proprietors of Fluky's were both Jewish, which may account for the wieners' pork-free, kosher-style character.[21]


The "dragged through the garden" style is heavily promoted by Vienna Beef and Red Hot Chicago, the two most prominent Chicago hot dog manufacturers,[22] 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.[23] Several popular hot dog stands serve a simpler version: 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, including Portillo's, offer a Chicago-style dog with cheese sauce, known as a cheese-dog.


Chicago-style hot dogs are cooked in hot water or steamed before adding the toppings.[1][9] 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.[24] Some hot dog stands, such as the Wieners Circle,[25] only serve char-dogs.[26]

The typical beef hot dog weighs 1/8 of a pound or 2 ounces (57 g) and the most traditional type features a natural casing, providing a distinctive "snap" when bitten.[8][27]

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 Chicago area has more hot dog restaurants than McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King restaurants combined.[20][21] 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, such as The Wieners Circle, Gene & Jude's, Gold Coast Dogs or Mustard's Last Stand;[28] or architectural features, like Superdawg's two giant rooftop hot dogs (Maurie and Flaurie, named for the husband-and-wife team who own the drive-in). One of the most popular vendors of the Chicago-style dog are Chicago's professional sports teams; in fact, those sold at Wrigley Field are affectionately known as "Wrigley Dogs".

After Portillo's, Boz Hot Dogs (aka Bozo's) and Scooby's Red Hots have the most locations and thus also are top vendors of Chicago Style Red Hots.[29]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Zeldes, Leah A. (2010-07-07). "Eat this! The Chicago hot dog, born in the Great Depression". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  2. Vienna Beef hot dogs. "The Periodic Table of Vienna: Chicago Style Hot Dog Condiments". Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  3. Sweet, Lynn. (2010-06-10). "Chicago hot dogs at the White House". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-08-01. Chicago-style hot dogs are steamed
  4. 1 2 Zeldes, Leah A. (2010-07-13). "It takes big buns to hold Chicago hot dogs". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  5. Spina, Matthew (May 20, 2016). "A History of the Esteemed Chicago-Style Hot Dog", Thrillist. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  6. 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.
  7. Leroux, Charles (2005-08-30). "Chicago hot dogs". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Co. Retrieved 2007-04-28.
  8. 1 2 Smith, Kathie (2007-05-01). "Chicago's food history". Toledo Blade. Block Communications. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
  9. 1 2 Fluky's. "How to Make Your own "Chicago Style Hot Dogs"". Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  10. "The Chicago Dog", Hot Dog Chicago Style. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  11. 1 2 Zeldes, Leah A (2002-09-30). "How to Eat Like a Chicagoan". Chicago's Restaurant Guide. Chicago's Restaurant Guide. Archived from the original on 2002-10-01. Retrieved 2002-09-30.
  12. "Chicago-style Hot Dogs and Hot Dog Stands". h2g2. July 19, 2007. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  13. "Recipe Detail: Chicago Style Hot Dog". Archived from the original on 2008-08-15.
  14. Gibson, Kelly; Portia Belloc Lowndes (2008). The Slow Food guide to Chicago: Restaurants, markets, bars. Chelsea Green Publishing. p. 238. ISBN 978-1-931498-61-6. Retrieved February 18, 2010. self-respecting Chicagoan would think of using ketchup as a condiment...
  15. Fodor's Chicago 2010. New York: Fodor's. 2009. p. 189. ISBN 978-1-4000-0860-5. Retrieved February 18, 2010. Make sure to never add ketchup to your Chicago-style hot dog: a major no-no among hot dog aficionados.
  16. "Never Put Ketchup On A Hot Dog, by Bob Schwartz - Home Page". Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  17. Adams, Cecil (August 30, 1991). "Why Is There No Ketchup on a Properly Made Hot Dog?", Chicago Reader. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  18. Zeldes, Leah A. (2010-07-22). "Do only barbarians put ketchup on hot dogs?". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  19. Zeldes, Leah A. (2006-07-22). "And the wieners are ... ' Frankly speaking, top 10 suburban hot dog stands serve up plenty of good eating". Daily Herald. Paddock Publications. Retrieved 2010-08-01. Some 1,800 hot dog stands serve Chicago and the suburbs, according to Peter Sload, spokesman for Vienna Beef, the sausage maker that supplies about 85 percent of them. That's more than all the McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King outlets here combined.
  20. 1 2 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.
  21. 1 2 3 Zeldes, Leah A. (2010-07-06). "The Chicago-style hot dog: 'A masterpiece'". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  22. Zeldes, Leah A. (June 21, 2011). "Hot dog makers around town". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  23. Zeldes, Leah A. (June 21, 2011). "Even without trimmings, Chicago-style hot dog in league of its own". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  24. Meathead (July 1, 2009). "Hot Dog Road Trip: A Patriotic Party Plan". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  25. "Chicago's Wiener's Circle Meets Its Match In Jack McBrayer, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog (Discretion Advised)". Chicagoist. June 15, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  26. "Five Guys Offers More Than Burgers.
  27. Zeldes, Leah A. (2010-07-08). "Know your wiener!". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  28. Zeldes, Leah A. (2010-07-30). "Relishing Chicago's 10 funniest hot-dog joints". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  29. "Sonic's Menu: New Hot Dogs Reviewed". 7 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-03-10.

Further reading

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