How to Make A Classic Chicago Dog

Happy Labor Day Weekend! I hope you’re having a beautiful weekend. The unofficial end of summer is here – I feel like summer flew by, but then again, I suppose I always feel that way. I might be the only person I know who is never excited about the arrival of fall because it means winter is right around the corner. And I am not a fan of old man winter. So today, let’s celebrate summer with one of my favorite foods, the Classic Chicago Dog.

Classic Chicago Dog

Chicago Dogs are super simple to make, but they do require a few special ingredients to make them a true Chicago Dog. Number one is the neon green sweet relish. Number two is the sport peppers. Four, is the celery salt. And number five is the poppy seed bun. You have to have an all-beef hot dog, too. And yellow mustard. NEVER KETCHUP.

Classic Chicago Dog ingredients

Diced onions, tomato slices and dill pickle spears are easy pantry staples. All beef dogs are easy to find, but I did have some trouble finding poppy seed buns. I got lucky at my third grocery store stop with “everything” buns. Maybe not traditional, but it’ll work in a pinch. You can buy the Sport Peppers and the Neon Green Relish on Amazon, like I did.

Chicago Dogs

Traditionally, Chicago Dogs are boiled, not grilled. But if you’re grilling out, go ahead and throw them on the grill! Boil the dogs for about 4-5 minutes just until they’re heated through. I like to use tongs to pull them out of the hot dog water and set them on a paper towel to dry off. Let’s build our dogs!

Building a Chicago dog with an all beef hot dog.

How to Build a Chicago Dog

Lay a dog in a bun and then, on one side place a halved slice of tomato. On the other side of the dog, lay the pickle spear, cut side down. I halved one pickle spear so it’s not too thick.

Drizzle a zigzag of mustard, then add the neon green relish on the tomato-side of the hot dog. Sprinkle on the diced onions.

Now we’re ready for the celery salt; sprinkle a pinch of celery salt over the whole top of the dog and toppings.

Celery Salt on the Classic Chicago Dog

Lastly, lay two sport peppers over the top. Now that’s a Classic Chicago Dog!

Classic Chicago Dog

The look of this hot dog is what makes it iconic – the neon green relish and the sport peppers are what set it apart. But let’s say you want to make a Chicago Dog today, and you don’t live in the greater Chicago area, where sport peppers and neon green relish are readily available at the grocery store. Let’s talk about substitutions.

For the neon green relish, just use regular sweet pickle relish. For the sport peppers, use pepperoncini peppers with the stems sliced off. Can’t find a poppy seed bun, just use a regular hot dog bun. Don’t forget that celery salt though! It’s usually available in the spice section at most super markets.

Classic Chicago Dog

And that’s a Classic Chicago Dog! I am not ready to say goodbye to summer, so I am gonna hold onto it as long as I can. Are y’all ready for fall? Are you excited for the crisp mornings, leaf peeping and pumpkin spice everything? Let me know what you love about fall; reach out to me on Instagram, or send me an email through my Say Hello tab. Happy Labor Day weekend, take care and be well. xo Kelly

Key Ingredients

Classic Chicago Dog

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Dinner, Main Course American
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 4-8
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cooking Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 15 Minutes

All beef hot dog, dressed with the classic Chicago Dog toppings. Neon green relish, sport peppers, poppyseed bun, and don't forget the celery salt!


  • Poppyseed Hot Dog Buns (or regular hot dog buns)
  • All Beef Hot Dogs, like Hebrew National
  • Ripe Tomato Slices, halved
  • Dill Pickle Spears, halved lengthwise
  • Classic Yellow Mustard
  • Neon Green Sweet Pickle Relish, like Vienna (or regular sweet pickle relish)
  • Diced White Onion
  • Celery Salt
  • Sport Peppers, like Marconi (or pepperoncini peppers)



Boil the desired number of hot dogs in water for about 5 minutes, until dogs are heated through.


Let the hot dogs dry off on a paper towel, then lay a hot dog in the center of the bun and lay tomato slices along one side of the hot dog.


Lay a dill pickle spear (cut side down) along the other side of the hot dog.


Drizzle a zigzag of yellow mustard over the hot dog.


Spoon neon green relish along the tomato side of the hot dog.


Sprinkle with diced onions and celery salt.


Place two sport peppers on top.

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  • Mari
    September 6, 2021 at 10:16 am

    This is great! Chicago was my long time favorite city. I grew up in a small town in Iowa, so Chicago was a mecca for many of us. We could take the train in and spend the day downtown or hanging out in Old Town. That is, the favored few could, but many of us had parents that said no, or part time jobs. I had both, so I could only dream. When I was older, I could go and I loved it. Later, we lived in the suburbs, and when my friends and I needed a change of pace we hopped the train and went downtown. We did get a hot dog on occasion, and they were wonderful. There are stories about people getting thrown out of bars and hot dog shops (yeah that’s all they sold) for saying the ketchup word, and they are true. Other places you might get a dirty look and be told that they didn’t have ketchup. God help you if you tried to smuggle your own in. This was a perfect post for the last summer holiday. We always have Hebrew National hot dogs because it’s the only brand my kids like. When the two youngest went vegan in middle school, they were trying to explain what they could and couldn’t eat. Both my mother and mother in law said the same thing. “Well can’t you eat a hot dog!” They were horrified at the very idea of Tofu Pups. When the kids did start eating meat again, the first things they ate were cheeseburgers and these hot dogs. Have a great day everybody.

    • Kelly Djalali
      September 6, 2021 at 10:40 am

      Good morning, Mari! Chicago is a great city to visit. So many great restaurants and sights to see. I love the art museums. I just had the “ketchup on a hot dog” debate with my friend, while we were in Tybee, at a restaurant that specializes in fancy wagyu beef hot dogs. So funny! I still haven’t tried a tofu dog that I like, but this restaurant in Tybee called Sea Wolf makes a vegan dog that I am interested to try next time we’re there. Thanks so much for stopping by today and for always having such wonderful stories and memories to share! Have a great Labor Day! xo Kelly

  • Linda Miller
    September 6, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Grew up near Chicago & this is a great post! We share your feelings about winter, so relocated to Fla. recently. We like Vienna Beef dogs if you can find them, we have difficulty locating poppy seed buns here as well. Thank You!

    • Kelly Djalali
      September 6, 2021 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Linda, Chicago winters are brutal! Why is it so hard to find poppy seed hot dog buns?! I am happy you like today’s post; thank you so much for writing in, have a great Labor Day! xo Kelly