Thousand Island Dressing is that tasty “special sauce” that elevates salads and burgers and Reubens everywhere. And guess what? Homemade Thousand Island Dressing is super easy to make.
In fact, 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, 1000 times better.
In this Article
- Thousand Island Dressing Ingredients
- How to Make Thousand Island Dressing
- Frequently Asked Questions about Thousand Island Dressing
- Jump to Full, Printable Recipe
- Recipe Reviews & Comments
Thousand Island Dressing Ingredients
What’s in Thousand Island Dressing? My recipe calls for ketchup, mayo, and relish; along with some finely minced onion and garlic. Then a bit of vinegar, salt, a dash of hot sauce if you like, and bam. Homemade Thousand Island.
How to Make Thousand Island Dressing
Just mix the ingredients together in a small bowl – yup, that’s it! The flavor develops when you refrigerate it, so it’s even better when you can make it in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions about Thousand Island Dressing
Why is it called Thousand Island Dressing?
When I first shared this recipe, I didn’t know why! But some research turned up that “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.” (source)
Reader CJ shared, “They call it Thousand Islands Dressing – originally known as Sophia’s Sauce because the recipe originated in the Thousand Islands. This unique and once the play ground of the very rich during the gilded age was and is a fisherman’s paradise. Today, although and nonetheless beautiful, and still a vacation destination, like most of upstate New York, the evidence of poverty can not be denied … I have a copy of the original, hand written recipe …”
Reader Kathy also shared, “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.”
Scroll down to read the comments for even more interesting information about the origin of Thousand Island Dressing.
How can I pep up this Thousand Island Dressing recipe?
- Many people like to add a finely diced hard boiled egg to the recipe, in fact, the original recipe (mentioned above) apparently included that. The egg adds a nice rich texture.
- Worcestershire sauce adds some nice flavor. One reader adds that and a pinch of ground cloves! Sounds delicious.
- Others like to use tomato sauce or tomato paste instead of the ketchup – the tomato paste would add a nice concentrated tomato element along with a bit of that coveted umami flavor.
- Many readers like to add some horseradish for a nice bit of zip. Others add a bit of cocktail sauce or even substitute the ketchup completely with cocktail sauce.
- To spice it up, add a dash of Tabasco as the recipe suggests. One reader adds chili-garlic sauce; another loves Sriracha. Yum!
So many ideas to make it your own!
If I don’t have sweet relish, can I use a different type of relish?
Yes! Dill relish is also delicious, or you could even finely chop some sweet or dill pickles and add them to the mix. We had a reader report using a spicy zucchini relish with success too! Make it your own.
Can I use onion powder instead of fresh onion?
Absolutely! I have not yet tried it this way personally, but a reader reported 1/4 teaspoon onion powder worked well.
Does Thousand Island Dressing have dairy?
No, this recipe is dairy-free.
Does Thousand Island Dressing have eggs?
Mayonnaise has eggs, so, yep! But you can use a vegan mayonnaise to omit the eggs.
Is Thousand Island Dressing vegan?
No, it is not, because the mayonnaise has eggs. But it’s a really easy swap – just use Vegenaise or another fave vegan mayonnaise instead of the classic mayo. Done!
Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
- 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)
- 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.
- Keeps refrigerated for up to a week.
I’ve made this many times and love it! SO much better than store bought.
This is soooo much better than store bought dressing, thanks for the great recipe
This is the perfect thousand island dressing!
This is DELICIOUS and so easy to make. Definitely use a red onion. I doubled the recipe and refrigerated for 3 hours before using. This will definitely be a go to salad dressing in our house.
This looks so yummy! We are going to love this! Can’t wait!
just a little question? why don’t you use chili sauce?
I liked this recipe. And so did my family. Followed the exact ingredients and it was the best!! It’s a keeper!!
My husband and I enjoyed your homemade 1000 Island dressing recipe. We were away from home with no dressing for our salad. He said “oh mix mayonnaise and ketchup “. I looked at your dressing and I thought it would work perfectly for us and it did. Per the comments, I used a pinch of garlic and onion powders to taste , slightly less white vinegar and no Cholula sauce. Thanks!
This recipe is delicious. I find that most store bought 1000 island is to sweet. This is just perfect.
Used about 8 drops of franks red sauce. Really really yum recipe on impossible vegan burgers.
It’s very tasty!
I make mine 1000 Island dressing as my late MIL did using only mayo, ketchup, and hard boiled eggs. We absolutely love it.
I dont think anyone will make your late MILs version.. otherwise they wouldn’t be looking on here for an authentic recipe.. sorry but I don’t understand why this is here really!
Carol Channon,,,,,why are you being so rude to another persons comment ? Just because you are not interested in what they had to say does not mean other people aren’t. The world doesn’t revolve around you, Carol. In fact , I don’t understand why your comment is even here.
Yummy, just very, very yummy!
I have made this dressing several times. Here in the UK, I couldn’t find sweet pickle, and have tried several different substitutes. In my last batch I used Sainbury’s sweet picalilli and it was scrumptious. I will definitely be using this sub in all my future creations. I could never buy a shop bought Thousand Island dressing.. neither will you if you’re making this for the first time!
Could you clarify how you determined the calories for this dressing? Mayonnaise is 100 calories per tablespoon, so 1/2 cup of mayonnaise is 800 calories. Divided by 6 servings, the mayonnaise alone is 266 calories for each 2 tablespoon serving, before adding the additional ingredients. Did you use light mayonnaise in the recipe?
Math. 800/6=133 calories not 266
I apologize for my poor math. Of course you’re right that 800 divided by 6 is 133.
But my question remains: how did you determine 6 servings at 57 calories each? The mayonnaise in each serving exceeds 57 calories. When I calculate the calories it comes to 146 calories per 2 Tablespoon serving.
This is our recipe of choice for dressing. When our adult son is coming for a visit I quadruple the amount-he loves it.
Recently I was trying to make a turkey burger taste like my mothers hamburger s which always were better than the the ones from the drive through places. Then I remembered mixing Catchup with Mayo! Better but still missing something. I bought a Rubin yesterday and that was it! The magic flavor. So I hunted down the sauce and bingo! There you were in all your delicious glory! Thank you so much!
Thanks for sharing this great recipe. I will make it one of these days.
Here where I live, I also have to make the mayo myself, but that is no problem either.
Hmmm. And yes. I also have to make the pickled gherkins for then to make the relish, but the vegetables are easy to find. I really look forward to get started.
Great recipe, thanks! I love homemade dressings and salsas and such… but to clarify, reuben sandwiches use Russian dressing, not thousand island.
I love this recipe! I don’t care for a really sweet 1000 island dressing, and most of the recipes I’ve seen have added sugar. I tried this one because it doesn’t have sugar. It’s perfect!
Haven’t made this for over a dozen years. Your recipe is just as my mother made ( and I’m over 80) with a few added ingredients. I might try your modern extras. Can’t go wrong with mayonnaise, ketchup and relish.
Best of ever had
Best ever! I used Branston pickle, spring onions and red chilli sauce. Yum!