Make Your Own Hot Dog Relish (and 4 reasons why it’s not just for hot dogs!)

When the cucumber plants are producing like crazy, use them to make your own hot dog relish. I use hot dog relish all year long to make Thousand Island dressing, tartar sauce, remoulade, and to add some zest to pasta salad.

Make your own hot dog relish - jars of homemade hot dog relish and canning jar lifters

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Hot dog relish is versatile

I really don’t like having a bunch of jars and bottles in the fridge that only have one limited use and take up space. Enter the versatile, money-saving, $1.49* jar of hot dog relish!

*Your cost may vary.

I use the relish pictured above – jars and jars made from the English cucumber plants from my garden. My only cost was the $1.00 for the package of seeds (I only used 3 of those seeds, and will save the rest for next year), a few onions, some spices and $1.09 for a bottle of apple cider vinegar.

Why do I make so much? Because I use it over and over again all year, and I rarely eat hot dogs.

Last summer, I canned 24 half-pint jars of relish.

Mature cucumber growing in the garden - how to grow cucumbers

How to make hot dog relish

  • 8 cups seeded cucumbers; pulsed to a small dice in a food processor. Scoop out the seeds of 8 – 10 cucumbers using a spoon.
  • 2 cups onion pulsed to a small dice using a food processor. Vidalia onions are great – if you can find them.
  • 1 cup bell pepper pulsed to a small dice using a food processor. Use a red or orange bell pepper to give your hot dog relish a nice color variation.
  • 4 tablespoons pickling salt. Pickling salt has no iodine in it, because iodine will discolor the finished product.
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • a dash of freshly ground black pepper

Preparing to make the hot dog relish

The day before you plan to water bath can the hot dog relish, wash 8 to 10 half-pint canning jars, lids and rings.

Prep the cucumbers by slicing them lengthwise and de-seeding them. Quarter the cukes and pulse them in a food processor until they are a small dice. You don’t want to make a puree, so don’t over-process!

Transfer the diced cukes to a large glass bowl. Don’t use aluminum, as it will react with the vinegar, and discolor the relish.

Do the same for the onions and bell pepper.

Add the pickling salt, and mix well.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Make your own hot dog relish - food processor, cucumbers and diced cucumbers in a glass bowl

Canning day

First, start boiling water in a large stock pot. Sterilize the canning jars, lids and rings in the boiling water while you prepare the hot dog relish.

Transfer the diced vegetables to a non-reactive strainer and let them drain a bit. Rinse with cold water and squeeze the veggies to remove the water.

Pour the vinegar into a large, (non aluminum) sauce pan, and whisk in the cornstarch. Add the spices and sugar and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally.

Once the syrup begins to boil, add the vegetables and stir with a wooden spoon. Turn down to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Get the jars ready

While the veggies are simmering, remove the now sterilized jars, lids and rings from the boiling water bath. I like to set them on towels on the counter – this keeps everything clean (you will spill stuff!) and protects the glass jars and the counter.

Yes you CAN can!

(sorry. I had to.)

Ladle the relish into the jars – leaving 1/2″ of room (aka “head space”) at the top.

I like to add a few granules of pickle crisp according to the directions on the jar. This will prevent any mushiness in the finished product.

Wipe any mess from the rim; add the lid and screw on the ring.

Once all jars are filled, add to the boiling water bath and  boil for 10 minutes 

After the 10 minutes of processing are up, carefully remove the jars with your jar lifter tool. Set on the towel to cool.

As the hot dog relish cools, you will hear the jar lids pop. That’s a good sign! The centers of the lids will indent, indicating that the processing is complete. If you have one or two that don’t indent – refrigerate and use right away. These cannot be stored.

Once processed successfully, your hot dog relish can be stored for at least 1 year. (Any longer will diminish the flavor a little.)

Refrigerate after opening.


Make your own hot dog relish - finished jars of homemade hot dog relish and jar lifter tool

Some not-so-expected uses for hot dog relish

Toss a few tablespoons of relish into macaroni and tuna salad. It gives it a little zing and texture.

Tartar sauce

Instead of having a $2.00 jar of tartar sauce sit in the fridge for months and months, I make my own on an as-needed basis. Use these small glass bowls with lids. Mix a few teaspoons of mayonnaise with an equal amount of hot dog relish. That’s it!

Thousand Island dressing

No need to keep bottles of salad dressing hanging around. I make my own when I need it. Thousand Island dressing is awesome both on salad and slathered on a hot pastrami Reuben!

Make it the same way as the tartar sauce, then add ketchup a little at a time to taste. I tend to go a little heavy-handed on the ketchup. And what a saving! A bottle of Thousand Island dressing can be $2.50-$3.99 at the grocery store.


  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers
  • 1 tablespoon hot dog relish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt to taste
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper
    • Mix all ingredients in a glass cup. Cover the cup with the lid and refrigerate for an hour before using.

Those are a few ideas to get you thinking about cutting expenses and finding several uses for one product.

Which recipe will you try first? Is there a single produce you buy that you have found to be really versatile? Tell me below in the comments!