Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Five minutes and a little chilling time in the fridge, and you've got a tangy, zesty, "secret" sauce that's equally at home on a piled-high burger as it is atop a nice, simple bed of greens. It's far less expensive than store-bought and it tastes, well, a thousand times better.

Total Time: 5 minutes


Pure class, baby. This post is pure class. Today I’m mixing mayonnaise and ketchup and calling it a recipe.

Except, actually, I actually do consider it a fairly legitimate recipe. And there are a few other things in there too. And it’s really, really (really) tasty.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

It’s homemade thousand island dressing. Thousand island, you’ve come a long way, baby. I mean, from the store-bought version, that is.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

It is so easy to make thousand island dressing that I’m sort of kicking myself for ever buying it ready-made. Five minutes and a little chilling time in the fridge, and you’ve got a tangy, zesty, “secret” sauce that’s equally at home on a piled-high burger as it is atop a nice, simple bed of greens. It’s far less expensive than store-bought and it tastes, well, a thousand times better.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

I don’t know why they call it thousand island, but I could probably come up with at least 1,000 ways to enjoy this stuff.

P.S. You know I had to Google it as soon as found myself typing that I didn’t know the origin of the name. Turns out “the name presumably comes from the Thousand Islands between the United States and Canada in the St. Lawrence River. In the Thousand Islands area, one common version of the dressing’s origins says that a fishing guide’s wife, Sophia LaLonde, made the condiment as part of her husband George’s shore dinner.” Thanks, Wikipedia! And thanks, Sophia.

Print Recipe

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Five minutes and a little chilling time in the fridge, and you've got a tangy, zesty, "secret" sauce that's equally at home on a piled-high burger as it is atop a nice, simple bed of greens. It's far less expensive than store-bought and it tastes, well, a thousand times better.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced onion (I use red onion but yellow or white would work just fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about half of a small clove)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)


  1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. Taste and add additional salt if desired. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Serve.
  2. Keeps refrigerated for 3 - 4 days (probably longer, but for us it's long gone by then).

Adapted from Food.com

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a portion of the proceeds.

Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.

39 Responses to “Homemade Thousand Island Dressing”

  1. Rachel @ Bakerita posted on March 26, 2013 at 8:32 am

    This looks amazing!! Definitely need to try it on some burgers :)

  2. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies posted on March 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I had no idea Thousand Island Dressing was made with ketchup and mayo. I learned something new today!

  3. Courtney @ The Fig Tree posted on March 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Oh yum! This was my very favourite dipping sauce when I was a kid. I still love it, but don’t like to buy pre-made dressings. Cannot wait to make this and re-live my childhood addiction! *hehe* :)

  4. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up posted on April 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    How simple!! For some reason I never thought it would be that easy.

    • Kare posted on April 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Yeah – it’s seriously weird to mix ketchup and mayo together, but it totally works! :)

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  6. Christina posted on July 30, 2013 at 3:45 am

    Can I use normal table salt to replace kosher salt?

    • Mike posted on October 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

      I used sea salt instead of kosher salt, just added small amounts and tasted it till I liked it. I used Vegenaise instead of mayonnaise. This was pretty good.

  7. Julian posted on August 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

    This dressing really works with anything, especially Reuben sandwiches

  8. Tonya Siltman posted on August 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    just looked at the ingredients on our bottle of thousand island. blah!! poison! this looks wonderful and easy! can’t wait to try it!

  9. Carolyn posted on August 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    This recipe is indeed etter than store bough. I tasted it efore refrigerating it for the recommended time and WOW – did leave out the Tabasco but didn’t even notice. This one is definitely a keeper.

  10. Teya Hamblett posted on August 19, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Tried it and loved it!!!

  11. Ayisha posted on August 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    This is a great recipe, don’t have to buy dressings ever, just get the basics, ketchup, mayo, mustard and if you need sour cream, just use yogurt. All of these have a lot less chemicals and you can make cheaper, great tasting dressings from them. Now what I did rather then use sweet relish, I grated a small pickle and added about 2 tsp of honey to the dressing and instead of Tabasco sauce a big pinch of cayenne pepper. Delicious, can’t wait to have it on our chicken salad tonight.

  12. Mike posted on October 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks. My kid can’t eat eggs, which are in almost all 1000 Island store-bought dressings. Now I can make it for her without the eggs.

    • Matt posted on October 20, 2013 at 12:13 am

      mayo contains egg… you should substitute.

  13. Kristin posted on December 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Can anyone recommend how to make this without the pickles, but substitute something to get that briny taste? I am allergic to cucumber, thus, no pickles for me. But I LOVE thousand island dressing. Any suggestions?

    • Gabrielle posted on December 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      This might be the Southern girl coming out in me, but have you ever tried picked okra? That might work.

    • Cheryl posted on February 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Try pickled onion chopped up fine.

    • Kristin posted on March 23, 2014 at 5:32 am

      Try caper juice

  14. Gabrielle posted on December 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    This was perfect and came together in just a few minutes. I didn’t have any onion or Tabasco so I subbed in onion powder and cayenne. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  16. Kathy Doane posted on January 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that Thousand Island dressing comes from the Thousand Island area of up state NY. Where are over a thousand island in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Fishing guides would take them out to fish and then cook them a “shore dinner” One of there wives came up with the recipe. They lived in Clayton NY and who can still go there and get the original dressing..I grew up there and when I moved I realized most of the country had no idea that’s how it originated. Kathy

    • Marie Burt posted on March 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      I’m from Syracuse n love that story !

  17. Shannon Adams posted on January 6, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    This was just amazing!! Made meatless Monday a delight. We had meatless Reuben’s for lunch and a big salad for dinner with this beauty on top! Will continue to use this in many recipes in the future. Thank you!!

  18. Pam posted on January 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Just made this. Tasted it before putting in the fridge and it tastes great. I forgot to buy dressing when I was at the store this morning. Dreaded going back out although the temperature is climbing and is up to 2° now. Making rye bread now for our Reubens tonight. Can’t wait for dinner. Thanks for the recipe.

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  20. Caitlin posted on January 12, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Made this today & posted it on my blog. Delish! Thanks for sharing!

    • Karen Troughton posted on January 14, 2014 at 6:52 am

      Thanks, Caitlin. So glad you liked it!

  21. Lacey posted on February 1, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I think the onion is a bit much :-( Maybe onion powder to taste instead?

    • Karen Troughton posted on February 2, 2014 at 6:22 am

      Personally I love the onion, but absolutely – try whatever you’d like to make it your own! :)

  22. Jenna posted on February 8, 2014 at 5:40 am

    this looks so good, I am trying to use less processed foods and just made mayonnaise, I bet it would be great in this dressing~thanks!

    • Karen Troughton posted on February 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Hi Jenna, I’ve actually been thinking recently about this recipe and wanting to come up with a truly homemade version! I would imagine homemade mayo will definitely beat the pants off of any store bought option. :)

  23. amy posted on March 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Try substituting worsticire (not sure if I’m spelling it right) sauce for the vinegar and adding 1/4-1/2 tsp real horse radish and a couple squeezes of lemon. Probably not authentic but it really jazzed it up as the original is a little bland for my taste.

  24. Grace posted on May 28, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Hi what do you mean in the last sentence “Keeps refrigirated for 3-4 days?”
    Do you mean keep refrigiratated for 3-4 days before we eat it? or will it only last up to 3-4 days even if refrigerated? It would probably take me a week to finish this.

  25. Grace posted on May 28, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    oops *refrigerated haha :)

  26. Grace posted on May 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    oh ok I get it I guess I skipped the part (probably even longer)…so you mean it might only last 3-4 days in the ref. :) Thanks. Can’t wait to try this out!
    God bless you more.

  27. Tanya posted on November 16, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I made today with our Reuben sandwiches and excellent!

  28. Jimmy posted on March 15, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Loved the taste right after making it…Thousand Island times 1,000. After refrigerating for two hours, the ketchup flavor was overwhelming. I think next time, I will reduce the ketchup by half and add a bit more vinegar. 

  29. Lisa posted on March 27, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I always heard it’s just Russian dressing without the pickle relish. The pickle relish makes the islands in thousand island. My secret to awesome Thousand Island is adding a little cocktail sauce–the horseradish in it really gives it an extra kick.

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