Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

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With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

Is it strange that cold hot dogs totally take me back to a happy place?  Heck, I think it’s strange.  But that still doesn’t stop me from loving a good cold hot dog!  Back in middle and high school, lunch would occasionally consist of a leftover hot dog from the previous night’s grilling adventures. 

However, we didn’t have a way to heat up our lunches, so I just kept an ice pack in my lunchbox and ate the hot dog cold.  Strange?  Yes.  Delicious?  Yes.  *I’m fairly certain I just lost what little credibility I have as a food blogger…*

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

I’d totally forgotten about those cold hot dogs until I made this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad.  Certain cities/regions just have iconic foods, and Chicago is known for it’s Chicago-style hot dogs.  (Yes, Chicago is also known for it’s pizza, but today we’re focusing on the city’s iconic hot dog toppings.) 

I’ve only had a Chicago dog once, and it was in the Chicago airport so it probably doesn’t count for much.  I’m sure my buddy Jeff could direct me to some pretty awesome hot dog stands in Chicago whenever I make it back.

For this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad, I took all of the ingredients for a classic Chicago dog and put ’em over pasta instead of a bun.  Sacrilege?  Probably.  But this pasta salad was downright delicious!  Even Laura (who didn’t grow up eating cold hot dogs like me) agreed.

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad

The most challenging ingredient in this recipe is the jar of sport peppers.  We don’t have sport peppers here in upstate New York, and I highly suspect these are only available in Chicago.  Heck, the company that made the jar of sport peppers is also one of the well-established makers of Chicago hot dogs.  Fortunately, there’s Amazon.  Amazon isn’t the best when it comes to grocery prices, but I decided to splurge and order a jar of sport peppers.  I was intrigued, and I knew they’d be essential to this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad.

What are sport peppers? 

Sport peppers are small chili peppers with a mild to medium level of heat.  They look a little bit like serrano peppers, but they aren’t as hot.  They’re also pickled in vinegar, so they bring a unique (and tasty) addition to this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad.  According to some internet message boards, there is a subset of Chicagoans who substitute pepperoncini for sport peppers on their hot dogs.  Pepperoncini are certainly much easier to find (check next to the pickles in your grocery store), so I suspect they would work for this pasta salad, too.

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

Other classic toppings on a Chicago Hot Dog include yellow mustard, white onions, pickle relish, tomato slices, celery salt and a dill pickle spear.  I took a few liberties with the translation here, but all of those flavors are included in this pasta salad.  Heck, I even included some poppy seeds in the dressing as a Chicago Dog is typically served on a poppy seed bun. 

All in all, this pasta salad was downright delicious!  Laura and I definitely ate this for lunch for a couple days in a row, and (like most pasta salads) this one tasted even better after it sat overnight.

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

If you’re looking for a unique and fun pasta salad for a summer party, then look no further!  With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!  Enjoy!

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover pasta salad should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Even though this salad does not contain mayonnaise, it still won’t freeze too well. I recommend just sharing leftovers with friends!

Did you make this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad recipe at home?  Leave a comment and let me know.  Or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog)!

Looking for more tasty pasta salads?  Check out these other favorites, too:

Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Pepperoni Pasta Salad
Prosciutto and Pea Pasta Salad
Muffaletta Pasta Salad
Italian Antipasti Salad

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad

With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 506kcal


For the Salad

  • 16 oz. medium shells pasta
  • 8 all-beef hot dogs cut into 1” slices on an angle
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • cup chopped sport peppers
  • ¼ cup diced white onion
  • ¼ cup pickle relish
  • ¼ cup sliced dill pickles

For the Dressing


For the Salad

  • Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Drain cooked pasta and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, using a large pan, add sliced hot dogs and place over medium-high heat. Cook without turning for 4-5 minutes, or until hot dogs begin to turn golden brown on bottom. Flip and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, or until other side also turns golden brown. Remove hot dogs from heat and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add tomatoes, sport peppers, onion, relish and dill pickles; toss until well combined.
  • Add cooked pasta and hot dogs; toss until well combined.

For the Dressing

  • Using a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Pour dressing over salad and toss until well coated. Salad can be served immediately or refrigerated and served cold.
With a nod to the Windy City, this Chicago Hot Dog Pasta Salad is a tasty way to celebrate warm summer days in the backyard!

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  1. 5 stars
    Haven’t had a hot dog in FOREVER! But I would love to have again soon in the form of this pasta salad! What a fun twist and perfect for the upcoming bbq season! Bet this would go over so well at a get together and disappear in no time. Have to have a look out for those peppers. Always love trying new ones and the flavour they add. Happy Monday, my friend 🙂

    1. Forever? Like ever ever forever? Ok, Dawn, we need to fix that! Grill out some hot dogs this weekend…and make some extras for this pasta salad. I know it might sound odd, but this pasta salad is seriously delicious! All of the favorite toppings from a Chicago dog…in pasta salad form. Just trust me here. And you’ll likely have to order those sport peppers. No one around our area had ever heard of them!

      Either way, this is a good one for sure! Thanks so much, my friend, and I hope your week is off to a good start!

  2. 5 stars
    Pasta salads are a must for summer! And this one sounds so fun! I’ve never heard of sport peppers, let alone eaten one, but I love pepperoncini so I bet I’d love sport peppers too. I’m adding this to my list to try out at summer BBQs. Have a great week!

    1. I’m thinking you’d like sport peppers, too, Kelsie. Problem is you’ll likely have to order ’em online. I asked around our area, and I just got a lot of blank looks. Of course, you live down in pepper country, so maybe?? Bring on the summer pasta salads!! 🙂

    1. Haha, well thank you very much, Alexandra! Cold hot dogs sound silly when I talk about ’em, but man do those take me back to high school lunches. Haha! And this pasta salad? SO good! Seriously!

  3. Living walking distance from Wrigley, of course I’m’n’a have a lot to say here. First, although a hot dog tour of the city is certainly a thing, if you come here – I should say “when” you come here, because I truly hope you do – I will walk you down to Wrigley, where we’ll watch a game from the bleachers, eat Chicago dogs, and wash them down with local beer. It really doesn’t get any better than that. I hope you like baseball, although, I’m not even sure that matters if you like hot dogs and beer. As fate would have it, one of the best doughnut shops in the city happens to have an outlet in Wrigleyville, should you need further incentive.

    I can absolutely attest to the authenticity of your ingredients, right down to the celery salt. Eating a Chicago dog is almost ritualistic, so it’s important to get all those things right. Most importantly, you didn’t include any kind of tomato sauce – which is crucial, because putting ketchup on a Chicago dog is some kind of sacrilege. I’m not sure where that tradition comes from, but I keep it pretty quiet around here that I kind of do like ketchup on a hot dog … in private.

    I’m not sure what I’d think of a cold dog … I might be inclined to serve this salad with warmed or room temperature hot dog pieces. Regardless, I can definitely see this making an appearance at a get together, especially if the Cubs make it to the playoffs this year.

    Also, thanks a million times over for the shout-out. I’m humbled and smiling from ear to ear.

    1. I was looking forward to your response on this post, Jeff. I appreciate the offer, and perhaps a return trip to Chicago will have to happen. I’m not a huge baseball fan, although going to games in person is a lot of fun. Watching at home? Eh. Walking to Wrigley, eating hot dogs, drinking beers and then eating doughnuts? Ok, I’m in. That sounds awesome!

      Ah, so it seems I erred in the inclusion of the cherry tomatoes here since those fall into the tomato category. They did add a nice pop of flavor there, though. As far as ketchup, we’ll keep that a secret. And if you want to squeeze some ketchup on top of this pasta salad, I won’t tell anyone. Although that might be a little strange.

      I also challenge you to try this pasta salad with cold hot dogs. (Grilled and then chilled. Not just cold from the package!) I know that sounds terrible, but just try it out. And then you go to room-temp or warmed. I loved this salad, and I’m ready for another batch now. Cold beers are also a must. Cheers, my friend!

  4. 5 stars
    David, I’ve got to admit I’ve never been an American hot dog fan, but put them in a pasta salad and why not. I love the way you incorporated the mustard into the dressing. Now with that said, I love Swedish and Danish weinerkorv, but it’s a different animal. But, I’m thinking of making this with our weinerkorv and serving to some of my unexpecting Swedish friends. I bet they love it.
    What about a Cincinnati Chili-dog Mac?

    1. I understand where you’re coming from, Ron. A hot dog by itself can be boring. And I’ve had some pretty terrible hot dogs at picnics in the past. But add on a bunch of toppings? Ok, that’s where the party’s at! And then turn the whole thing into a pasta salad? Talk about delicious summer eats right there!

      So weinerkorv, eh? I had to Google that one, and it looks like they’re the same as Vienna sausage? I haven’t had those since I was a kid! I’m sure you have much more delicious options than the canned ones here in the States. Also, Cincinnati Chili Dog Mac? Genius. Pure genius. 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        David, you must have found the old fashion kind that came (and still does) come in cans. Very few buy those and I’ve not tried them. A fresh wienerkorv is thinner in diameter and at least 50% longer than an American hotdog. They have a casing that snaps when you bite into it. If it doesn’t it’s considered inferior. The closest we found in the US to Swedish wienerkorv was Boar’s Head uncured pork & beef frankfurters. But still not the same. You got to try one someday you’ll be converted.
        You can see an image here

        1. Yeah, those canned vienna sausages don’t exactly have the best reputation around here. I remember eating them as a kid, and I seem to recall them being fairly average in taste. Maybe I’ll have to pick up a can to see if my memory serves! Either way, they are definitely not the wienerkorv you describe. I’d love to try those…too bad we can’t get ’em here in the States. We’re heading to Germany on vacation in about a month or so. Maybe??

  5. 5 stars
    I don’t see any crime in eating a cold hot dog indeed. My childhood memories: enjoying leftover mashed potatoes. Cold. I guess this cold hot dog would have been a great addition to my cold mashed potatoes, right?

    Anyway, I do love a good pasta salad, and I’m excited about the season of pasta and potato salads. This simple yet super delicious combo sounds great!

    1. Cold mashed potatoes? That sounds a little strange to me, but then again cold hot dogs sound strange, too. I’m willing to give ’em a shot! Cold mashed potatoes with cold hot dogs. Now there’s a meal! 🙂

      Also, I’m all about pasta salad season, too! We have a couple favorites that we make every year, and I’m just waiting for the excuse to make a batch. Thanks, Ben!

    1. Haha! This pasta salad is a fun one for sure, Kathy. I know it sounds a bit strange, but the flavors here are awesome. In fact, I’m ready for another batch! 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Not sacrilege at all, David! Let’s call it ‘fusion food.’ 😉

    This is a super fun riff on classic pasta salad. I have to admit that I’ve never tried a cold hot dog (is that weird?), but I’m up for trying this salad!

    1. There ya go! Fusion food. Fusion is all trendy, so we’ll go with that. Haha! 🙂

      A cold hot dog (grilled and then chilled) sounds super strange, but boy does it take me back to high school lunches! And the cold hot dogs in this pasta salad? Loved ’em! Thanks so much, Marissa!

  7. Ha! At first I thought you were kidding with this recipe. But then I remembered you have a kiddo. But then, I thought about hot dogs and, well, good ones are really good! I couln’t get my husband to eat this, because he’s seen one too many shows about what goes into hot dogs, but then, more for me! Love the dressing as well.

    1. You’re totally right, Mimi! I thought this concept was nuts, but it actually works. A good hot dog is amazing…especially when it’s grilled on a hot summer day! (A bad hot dog on the other hand? Eh.)

      And you know what? I agree with your husband about what goes into hot dogs. In fact, I chased that rabbit down a hole a while back…it’s a dangerous rabbit to chase on the internet! But that led me to this: where I learned that I should avoid packages with “variety meats” or “with meat by-products.” Just a personal choice! Anyhoo, thanks for the comment and thoughts, my friend!

  8. I love getting Dodger Dogs when I go to games. It’s been about 4 years. GASP! This is a fun recipe and I especially love the addition of the pickles and peppers.

    1. 4 years! Isn’t it funny how time flies? I haven’t been to a major league baseball game in about 4-5 years myself. I’d much prefer to grill hot dogs in my backyard any day, though! 🙂 Thanks so much, Valentina!

  9. 5 stars
    David, I can’t help but remember that I used to eat the hot dogs uncooked, right out of the pack. So a cold, cooked hot dog sounds pretty good.

    This pasta salad is incredible! My favorite part of the hot dog is all the toppings. Love how you’ve incorporated all the Chicago hot dog flavors. This pasta salad is definitely a celebration of summer in ‘Merica!

    1. I was right there with ya on the cold hot dogs, Kelly! I preferred them leftover from the grill the night before, but I’ve eaten ’em both ways. However, truth be told, I now prefer them in this pasta salad! It’s seriously delicious, and a great way to enjoy the summer picnics. Thanks so much, my friend! ‘Merica!

  10. 5 stars
    Ha! This hot dog pasta salad takes me back to my student days David. With not a lot of money for food, basics like hot dogs and pasta were a staple. Love this! And I agree. Isn’t it funny how a lot of foods taste better once left to marinate overnight?

    1. Oh, I totally know what you mean about student staples. Hot dogs are great for that! (So is peanut butter…although peanut butter and hot dogs don’t really mix. Hah.) This pasta salad might sound a bit odd, but it’s a really tasty one for sure! Thanks so much, Neil!

  11. 5 stars
    Lil S is a huge fan of pasta + dogs/sausage, so I know she’d be all over this – especially love the tangy twist those sport peppers add into this! I couldn’t agree more about Amazon grocery prices, but their convenience cannot be beat! When we were in Seattle, there were many nights when we used to stop by the Amazon Go store to pick up dinner + dessert – they weren’t the cheapest, but the convenience factor was so high!

    1. I do agree with you about the convenience of Amazon…especially when it comes to those hard-to-find items (like sport peppers). I’ve heard about the Amazon Go store, but I haven’t had the chance to check it out. It does sound pretty cool! Now if only that store had Hot Dog Pasta Salad… 🙂

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