I grew up on the South side of Chicago in a small neighborhood called Beverly. I absolutely loved growing up there, and I will always have a special place in my heart for Chicago and all it has to offer. My mom did a really great job of making us aware of the where we lived, the culture of the city, and the special things Chicago is known for. One of them being hot dogs.
Janson’s was just a few blocks from our house, and on awesome days we were able to stop by the drive in and get a hot dog and a slushy. I remember turning into the parking lot and seeing their blue and pink neon sign reading Janson’s Drive In Hamburgers, when I don’t think we ever got a hamburger, haha. They have minimal seating inside, so we’d just walk up to the stainless steel counter to order and then take our hot dogs outside to the tables with umbrellas.
If you’re unfamiliar with Chicago Hot Dogs, then you’re in for a treat. It’s basically like a salad on top of your hot dog. Which I think makes the hot dog so much better and so much more filling, plus you’re getting tons of veggies! Traditionally Chicago Hot Dogs are a beef hot dog topped with mustard, relish, tomatoes, onions, pickles, sport peppers, and celery salt. And a lot of Chicagoans will be very, very upset if you put ketchup on your hot dog – people can get really heated on this topic . But, if you know me, then you know ketchup is my favorite condiment – and I’m not joking one bit when I say that. So, I put ketchup on my hot dog – I always have, and I always will! And I am from the South side of Chicago – deal with it!
I like to eat my dogs with organic cheesy puffs, I like the Annie’s Organic version. This just takes me back to being a kid because when we made hot dogs at home it was always a treat, and we always were able to eat Cheetos with them. It was usually during the summer, and my mom would bring everything outside to the patio on cute little serving trays and we’d eat with lighted candles outside. Meanwhile, my dad and I would always be trying to convince each other that our kind of Cheetos were best every time – the crunchy ones (were his choice) and the puffy ones (were my choice). While my mom always bought both to appease us, it was a never ending debate in the house. However, no one makes an organic sport pepper (that I can find) and the Vienna brand (which is most popular) has a lot of preservatives in them, so I’ve swapped them out for lettuce and cucumbers instead in my recipe. But, the most important thing for Chicago Hot Dogs is the celery salt! So don’t forget that, and if you don’t usually use this spice I bet you’ll love it and end up using it all the time. Get my recipe for truly organic Chicago Hot Dogs below.
Tips for Making the Best Chicago Hot Dogs
• Make sure you’re using beef hot dogs. Don’t skimp here people, don’t do veggies dogs, don’t do chicken dogs – use real beef hot dogs. I like to use Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs.
• Use a good bun. I like to use organic white buns for my dogs, but some Chicago dogs are also served on a poppy seed bun (like Janson’s). It’s just really hard to find good organic buns, the ones I linked are the best I’ve found. And I have yet to make my own!
• Most Chicago Hot Dogs will be served with all the toppings in more of a whole form, such as whole pickle slices, whole sport peppers, whole slices of tomato. But, I prefer to dice all of my toppings (as opposed to just the onions) so I get all of them in each bite.
• Chop all your toppings first before cooking or warming your buns. This way everything is ready so you can enjoy a hot dog!
• You can chop extra toppings so you have easy leftovers. I do this frequently because it’s just Delaney and me. So, when we buy a pack of hot dogs, we usually have them for a few days. So, I’ll chop extra toppings the first time and then store in a Tupperware in the fridge so it’s really easy to create a meal the next day.
• Do not forget the celery salt! Find an organic celery salt here.
• If your hot dog is so giant it’s difficult to take a bite – you’re doing it right!
Chicago Hot Dogs
2 organic beef hot dogs
2 organic white buns
organic sweet relish
organic yellow mustard
organic ketchup (optional)
3 slices organic tomato, sliced in half
1/4 cup chopped iceberg lettuce
3 slices organic cucumber, diced
1 slice white onion, diced
2 to 3 organic pickles, diced
organic celery salt
Boil the hot dogs per the instructions on the packaging.
While the dogs are boiling, lightly toast the buns.
To assemble: Add the hot dogs into the buns, top with relish, mustard, and ketchup. Then add tomato slices, lettuce, cucumber, onion, and pickles. Top with a sprinkle of celery salt.
High Altitude — Follow the recipe as noted.