How to Make Your Own Relish

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At the annual hot dog eating contest in Coney Island Brooklyn this Fourth of July, two dozen men and women will compete to win the title of most hot dogs consumed within ten minutes. The rest of us in the non-competitive-eating world, prefer to slow down and enjoy our dogs with relish. Literally. The weiner would be nowhere without that classic topping: pickle relish is sweet, tart and tangy at the same time, and as the juices soak into the bun every bite has those perfect flavor combinations.

RELATED: How to Make German-Style Sausage at Home

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Relishes are as varied as the sausage lovers themselves. In Chicago, the relish is the color of Kryptonite (thanks to a few drops of blue food coloring), hot pepper relish is king in Connecticut, and gourmet hot dog joints like Asia Dog top their franks with far-flung condiments like kimchi but the requisite is the smothering effect — to pack the bun with as much punch as possible.

"Hot Dogs are the perfect canvas for bold flavors and a great relish is an ideal way to compliment the rich smoky taste of a delicious hot dog," says Joshua Sharkey of Bark in Brooklyn, New York. "If you’re going to put lots of energy and love into making a great hot dog, it deserves just as much thought and effort into the condiment that goes along with it."

From the traditional to the exotic, here are the best recipes to spice up the sausage in your life.

"A nice relish on a great encased meat is absolutely necessary to the flavor profile of the perfect dog. Pickled, stewed and/or sauteed fruits or vegetables and spices are the essential condiment to cut through and balance your sausage and cheese on a bun," says Daniel Northcutt, co-owner of Frank in Austin, Texas.

Traditional Pickle Relish

From Preserving: Putting Up the Season’s Bounty by the Culinary Institute of American

Makes 6 pints 


  • 5 Kirby cucumbers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup Kosher salt
  • 11⁄2 qt (6 cups) warm water
  • 1 qt (4 cups) white vinegar
  • 11⁄2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup Pickling Spice (page 171)
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric


  1. In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peppers, and onion. In a large pot, stir the salt into the warm water until it is dissolved.
  2. Pour the salted water over the vegetables. Cover and let the mixture sit for 2 hours. Drain the vegetables and rinse thoroughly in cold water.
  3. In a large pot, bring the vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, and turmeric to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the vegetables.
  4. Cover the pot and let rest overnight (8 to 10 hours). Return the pot to the stove, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Pack the hot relish into prepared pint jars, leaving 1⁄8 inch of headspace. Seal the jars and process for 10 to 12 minutes
  6. Store in a cool, dark place.

STORAGE: Processed, this relish will keep for up to 6 months. Once jars have been opened, store them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 1 month.


Sweet Corn Relish

Reprinted with permission from WIENERS GONE WILD!, 2014 by Holly Schmidt & Allan Penn, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Makes about 3 cups


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 (1-pound) bag frozen sweet corn
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup


  1. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter, and when the butter is melted, add the onion and red pepper. Sauté the vegetables until they are soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the corn and garlic and sauté the entire mixture for another 5 minutes, or until the corn is thawed and heated through. Add the salt, pepper to taste, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Adjust the seasonings as necessary.


Grilled Tomato-Chile Relish

Reprinted with permission from WIENERS GONE WILD!, 2014 by Holly Schmidt & Allan Penn, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Makes about 2 cups


  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, seeded
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle juice
  • 2 scallions, chopped, divided


  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Brush the tomatoes and pepper with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Grill the vegetables, turning occasionally, until they’re charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, tomato paste, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, celery salt, pickle juice, and the white and light green parts of the scallions.
  4. Chop the grilled tomatoes and peppers and add them to the bowl with the dressing. Set the relish aside until ready to use. Relish can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

NYC Style "Street-Cart" Onion Relish from Joshua Sharkey at Bark in Brooklyn, NY


  • 4 Large Onion White Onion, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp Vegetable Oil, grape seed or canola is best
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 pc 12oz. Can, San Marzano tomatoes, whole, peeled
  • ¼ c + 3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • ¼ cup Granulated White Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Salt, add more to taste if you like


  1. Heat a large wide pan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and the salt,, and stir immediately. Cook the onions over medium heat until completely softened but do not let them color at all.
  2. While the onions are cooking, puree the tomato, vinegar, sugar, and tbsp of salt in the blender until completely smooth.
  3. Once the onions are completely softened, add the tomato mixture and cook down until completely dry, about 25 minutes over low heat. Let this mixture cool overnight before using.


Frank Cranberry Compote from Frank in Austin, Texas 

"One our favorite's around Frank is a good compote. We love to mix the sweetness of a good fruit with a spicy dog…plus compote is easy and we're lazy," jokes Daniel Northcutt, co-owner of Frank


  • 4 Cups Fresh Cranberry (sub frozen if it's easy)
  • 4 oz Fresh OJ
  • 1 oz Unfiltered Apple Juice
  • Jus of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt


  1. Add liquid and fruit to a sauce pan – bring to slow roll.
  2. Incorporate sugar and salt.
  3. Reduce heat and let simmer until nice and velvety.
  4. Serve hot or cold!
  5. Add more sugar if you like, we love the subtle tartness with this recipe.
  6. Pro Tip – serve this on a dog or with Waffles and Fresh Whipped Cream

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