© 2021 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Cooking with Fire

Cooking With Fire: The Chicago Dog

Tyler Longfellow

Chicago is known for many things, from professional sports teams to deep dish pizza to systemic political corruption, but when I think of Chicago one thing pops into my head: the Chicago Dog.

Now, the Chicago Dog may seem like just another hot dog, but it has a unique history all its own, and as with most culinary delights, it starts with immigrants bringing their traditions to a new land and melding together multiple cultures.

German immigrants worked the meat factories in Chicago in the 1800s, and were responsible for manufacturing various sausages, from bratwurst to pork hot dogs. Sausage is cheap and easy, and was a common meal for blue collar families.

But it was during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition that an important ingredient in the Chicago Dog got its start. Jewish immigrants took the traditional hot dog and replaced the meat with 100% beef to keep with their kosher needs. The Vienna Beef Company then began selling these hot dogs during the World's Fair, selling millions of them over the five month period.

Fast forward a few decades and the Depression hit Chicago like it did every other part of this country, and cheap food quickly became a necessity. The Chicago Dog rose out of this environment with piles of vegetables added to the meat and bun to make it more filling while still only costing a nickel.

In this episode of Cooking with Fire, Josh Cary and guest host Chef Britt discuss the history of this dish and breakdown exactly what you need to make your own Chicago Dog at home.




Building a Chicago Dog


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 poppyseed hot dog buns
  • 4 all-beef hot dogs
  • Yellow mustard, as needed
  • 1/4 cup, white onion, diced small
  • 4 Tablespoons neon green sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tomato, sliced into small wedges
  • 4 dill pickle spears
  • 8 pickled sport peppers
  • Celery salt, as needed


  1. Cook your hot dog. Steaming would be most authentic, however, grilling or boiling in a low simmering pot of water is also acceptable.
  2. Once your dog is fully cooked, place it in a poppyseed bun and prepare to “drag it through the garden.”
  3. First, add a drizzle of yellow mustard. Follow up with about a tablespoon of sweet relish, lining the side of the hot dog.
  4. Tuck in your pickle spear on one side of the hot dog, followed by tucking in two tomato wedges on the opposite side of the dog.
  5. Add two sport peppers over the top.
  6. Garnish with diced white onion, and a dash or two of celery salt.
  7. Eat immediately.