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.
This looks amazing!! Definitely need to try it on some burgers 🙂
I had no idea Thousand Island Dressing was made with ketchup and mayo. I learned something new today!
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* 🙂
How simple!! For some reason I never thought it would be that easy.
Yeah – it’s seriously weird to mix ketchup and mayo together, but it totally works! 🙂
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Can I use normal table salt to replace kosher salt?
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.
This dressing really works with anything, especially Reuben sandwiches
Recently had a really good Pastrami Reuben at a restaurant which led me to make them at home.
They turned out really good. I’ll see if this Thousand Island recipe makes it better. If so, the next step might be to bake my own Rye bread. How hard is it to make sauerkraut?
I just made sauerkraut last week – in a jar! Google the how to. It is very easy. Cabbage and salt. Very easy and it’s very good!
I tried to make Sauerkraut at home. The concept is simple. But, I did not pay attention to how much salt to add to the brining solution and I think that stopped the fermenting process.
just looked at the ingredients on our bottle of thousand island. blah!! poison! this looks wonderful and easy! can’t wait to try it!
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.
Tried it and loved it!!!
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.
I buy a small jar of Dukes Mayo, and scoop out a few table spoons of the mayo to make room for a table spoon of Patak’s Hot Curry Paste, and add some Mezzetta Non-Pareil Capers (small ones) after blending the mayo & curry paste. I have a stick blender that I just put in the jar and start blending so I don’t have to put the mixture in a blender or bowl. *I had something like this on a Shrimp Po-Boy sandwich, near Charleston, SC once and came home to try and make a version of the Curried Remoulade. This is close enough, and also works well on a pepper ham sandwich, with some roasted red pepper & dill pickle slices.
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.
mayo contains egg… you should substitute.
Actually you can use just mayo… but it at any Publix… and it’s vegan… so good…
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?
This might be the Southern girl coming out in me, but have you ever tried picked okra? That might work.
Try pickled onion chopped up fine.
Try caper juice
Use pepperoncinis and leave out the Tabasco
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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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
I’m from Syracuse n love that story !
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!!
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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Made this today & posted it on my blog. Delish! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Caitlin. So glad you liked it!
I think the onion is a bit much 🙁 Maybe onion powder to taste instead?
Personally I love the onion, but absolutely – try whatever you’d like to make it your own! 🙂
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!
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. 🙂
Eggless Mayonaise recipe I heard on NPR’s Splendid Table radio show. NO blender, use a food processor (maybe a stick blender).
I need to try this!
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.
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.
oops *refrigerated haha 🙂
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.
I made today with our Reuben sandwiches and excellent!
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.
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.
This is good but I’m surprised there’s not a bit of chopped hard boiled egg in this. makes all the difference.
My go to 1000 Island dressing recipe. We are having it tonight on Reubens.
I quit buying bottled dressings after I read they all have something in them that is also used in paint thinners!
Can you believe our FDA? This recipe is much like the one I have except instead of the onion/garlic addition, which I would totally love, it has 11/2 Tbsp. of prepared horseradish and this is also really good if you love horseradish.
I’ve been making the Vegan option for years with Original Vegenaise and The Wizard’s brand Organic Vegan Worcestershire. Add a couple of pinches of ground clove to this dressing and it tastes amazing. Also, instead of relish, I dice up sweet mixed pickles and add some of the juice!
This 1000 island dressing was delicious. I was too lazy to chop, so I substituted garlic powder and onion powder. I’ll never buy bottled again.
Yep. Just like the lady said, it’s WAY better than store-bought. We don’t ever use this on salads at our house, we only use it on sandwiches, so this is the perfect amount for us. Fills a 4 ounce mason jar nicely and get used up quickly. We made ours with Sriracha ketchup, it had a nice little kick to it. Great on Reuben sandwiches. Thanks for the yumminess!
Oooh, Sriracha. Yum!
Home made dressing is so much better than store bought! I like some of the variation ideas (adding horseradish sounds interesting).
I was never a big fan of Thousand Island, but found myself making a reuben casserole dish that my sister raved about… and didn’t have the Thousand Island dressing. So I found a similar recipe and substituted sweet pepper relish for the cucumber (pickle) relish. I thought the pepper relish made it taste even better. Just thought I’d mention the substitution in case anyone wanted to give it a try. (As an added bonus, the pepper relish has onions, so you don’t need to bother with that ingredient, just add a bit more relish.)
I just made this and it is delicious and so simple! Thank you for sharing!
So glad you liked it! 🙂
We were making Reuben sandwiches and did not have any Thousand Island dressing. The weather was stormy and we didn’t feel like going to the store, so I did a Google search for homemade Thousand Island and found this recipe. Mixed it up and it was delicious on our Reuben sandwiches!
I grew up on Reubens – love ’em! So glad you liked the recipe. 🙂
Trying this tonight! hate having a whole bottle of the dressing sitting around taking up room, when we only eat it occasionally.
¡Super delicioso! It is sooooo much better then any other dressing that you buy at the supermarket.
Wow! This really IS a thousand times better than bottled. I just made it and literally kept sticking a spoon in there to lick it off! (no worries-just me using it!) I added about 1/2 tsp of sugar and an entire small garlic clove (love that garlic!) Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. Very delicious-thank you!!!
This was very helpful i would definitely give it a 5 star
I just made this vegan style, with eggless mayo. It was most excellent! Thank you fo9r this great recipe.
Made this for my homemade rueben sandwiches and it was perfect! It’s going in my recipe book!
If all ingredients (except for fresh onion) can be kept in the fridge much longer than 3-4 days, why does this dressing not last?
…or fresh garlic….
The recipe was easy to fix. I wanted to use sugar free relish, but only had bread & butter pickle slices, which I chopped quickly in a blender. I recently was on a short vacation and had an extremely delicious Pastrami Reuben Sandwich. You slather Thousand Island Dressing on the inside of the sandwich slices and then add sauerkraut. I think the dressing “turns” the sauerkraut, just like adding a little sweetner to vinegar, turns the vinegar. I came back home and got the fixins to make this at home. This recipe also turned out really well, so I went looking to see what was in Thousand Island Dressing. I came across the recipe on this page and began to think… after I make the dressing at home, I may have to get out my bread maker and see if I can bake a good rye bread. I’ll still buy the sauerkraut. *If you are ever passing through the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Virginia, stop in a Macado’s Restaurant and order the Pastrami Reuben… with fries;-)
Thanks alot, this was really helpful for my school assignment.
I made it today easy to make and taste great. Thanks for sharine
I have recently started using Heinz Cocktail Sauce instead of Ketchup and it is far superior! The rest of the recipe is the same I use. However, I am not one for measuring. Is always delicious!
The recipe I have calls for a finely diced boiled egg which adds a richness to the texture.