I am a fifth-generation Chicagoan, so it is a surprise to no one that I take my hot dogs seriously. Which means I am exceedingly passionate about one of my city’s greatest culinary gifts to the world, the Vienna Beef hot dog. And while I will loudly suggest that you get their natural casing 6-to-the-pound dogs for any backyard barbecue, it is their semi-secret mini dog that I serve at almost all of my parties: The Pup.

The Pup: a tiny hot dog to rule them all

The Pup is about half the size of Vienna Beef’s small hot dog stand size hot dog and about 3 times the size of a cocktail frank. It is a perfect two-bite hot dog and lends itself to all sort of creative serving opportunities. Think of it as the hot dog equivalent of a hamburger slider, making it the ideal way to serve hot dogs at a grazing gathering.

DIY mini hotdogs!

At this time, Vienna Beef Pups are only available directly at the factory store in Chicago. Nathan’s Famous All-Beef Frank makes a version you can order online, but I’m here to help you make your own if that’s easier!

It’s a no-brainer: Buy 8-to-the-pound-sized hot dogs and cut them in half. Mini buns are part of the fun, and Rosen’s makes a good one (ask your local grocery store to order them for you if they don’t have them in stock). Put the hot dogs in a slow cooker filled with water and set to high to warm them through and keep them hot for a party. Then you just need to scale down your toppings! Anything you love on a dog just needs to be diced smaller or minced finer to be sure it works with the mini dogs.

Toppings and condiments for mini hot dogs

Sure, you can just pop some mustard across those mini dogs, but there are so many fun and delicious ways to do dogs. Here are some ideas to get you—and the party—started!

A classic Chicago hot dog has seven traditional toppings: yellow mustard, neon green sweet pickle relish, chopped onion, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. I mince my onions extra fine, use cherry tomatoes, and mini baby dills to make the pickle spears so that all the toppings are to scale.

If you love a Sonoran-style hot dog, serve with refried bean, chopped cooked bacon, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, avocados, and spicy mayo.

Detroit coneys just need a splash of cinnamon-perfumed thin chili, mustard, and onion.

Go NY style with spicy brown mustard and either sauerkraut or griddled onions, or Southern with a topping of tangy slaw. And if you love a corn dog, these minis are a perfect size to dunk and fry.

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