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 dressing is “money”
Great dressing. As a chef I used to make 5 gallons a week of all our dressings to include 1000 island and Green Goddess. I made a slight variation and used chili sauce instead of catsup and used lite mayonnaise plus a pinch of sugar. Came out great!
Love the idea of chili sauce – I need to try that ASAP! Thanks!
I always used chili sauce instead of catsup and tastes much better. I used the Beef House Restaurant recipe and thought it was fantastic.
Would you mind sharing your recipes for 5 gallons both thousand island and green goddess dressings?
Enjoyed the recipe, however the next time I make this recipe I’ll use chopped, small gherkins to keep down the excess liquid.
We couldn’t find a good store bought Thousand Island so we tried this recipe and we’ll never go back. It’s easy and full of flavor. We doubled the recipe so we’d have enough for several crab and shrimp salads. We’ll be making more for a Rubin sandwich. AMAZING!
The Thousand Island Dressing comes from the area you mentioned, but you may not know that it was once a very posh summer and winter holiday area from 1880 to about 1930. I just spent a night there, camping at a State Park on Lake Ontario near the the Thousand Islands, just where it joins the St. Lawrence river. I found out all the history at a museum in Clayton and fishing excursions with picnics really were very popular in the heyday. In certain shops there you can buy the “real” dressing, but I think your homemade one would be fine.
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. A couple of the highlights of the region from a bygone era are, Bolt Castle and Singer Castle. I have a copy of the original, hand written recipe. Yours is close, but you’ve added some embellishments not in the original snd omitted three ingredients.
Well? What are the 3 missing ingredients?, CJ?
Here is the original recipe for Sophia’s Sauce:
1 Cup Mayonnaise
Half Cup Ketchup (I would definitely use Chili Sauce, as although it is basically ketchup, it has less sugar and in all likelihood more historically accurate.
One hard boiled egg
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Quarter Cup pickle relish
Mix in bowl, keep cold.
That is the recipe my Mother used to make. Can’t wait to try it!!
Love it 🙂
The egg ruined this version of the recipe for us. The written recipe above is better imho.
Wow! This recipe was outstanding! Easy to make& super tasty 😋. Thank goodness I was out of the crappy bottled dressing. I’ll never buy it again. This was outstanding on my Rubin sandwich. Thank you for sharing 👍🏻
This is FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for sharing this!! I used red onion like you suggested and it’s so fabulous!
I have just made this dressing as I was making a pasta salad and had all the ingredients together and then found that I didn’t have any store bought thousand island dressing……..found this and just threw the basic ingredients into the salad without any accurate measurements and it is amazing!! I used a good quality whole egg mayo, tomato sauce, ground salt and pepper, white vinegar, the last of a gherkin relish and bottled minced garlic……so good! Thank you very much!
This is a great dressing. Way better than store bought. Will never buy it again. Loved it!
This was amazing. I make my own mayo and I love that I know exactly what is in my food.. and I don’t habe to worry about it spoiling.. it doesn’t last long as we polish it of almost within the day or so
Great taste. Not sweet tasting as bottled dressings sold in the store. Easy to make and I love it.
Really delicious! After making it still tasted a lot like mayo and was very light colored. I left out the onions and had to modify by adding another tsp of sweet relish and another tsp of ketsup. It was perfection after that! Tasted better than the store bought bottle that was sitting right next to it!
Really good! So much better than refrigerated brands or bottled. Thanks, will be using a lot!
Making this on Christmas Day because we had no Thousand Island dressing and the grocery stores are closed. It’s terrific and turns out to be organic except for the vinegar! Thanks for such an easy and delicious recipe.
Sorry but I will stick with Kraft Thousand Island dressing!! This recipe is nasty, no way in heck will I ever eat tabasco sauce in my Thousand Island dressing!!
Did you actually make it before commenting? Somehow I doubt it.
You OBVIOUSLY didn’t even make it.
You do know you have the liberty of omitting or adding items based on your own preferences, right?
The Tabasco is optional. If you don’t like it leave it out. I also use lemon juice instead of vinegar and I use garlic powder instead of fresh. It is 10000× better than any pre bottled thousand island dressing. But for those that have screwed up their taste buds and don’t mind eating junk…..feel free to buy the mass produced crap that you are accustomed too
You are the perfect gourmand as far as I think
This Thousand Island dressing is my favorite! I quit buying 1000 island a long time ago because I never really cared for it, but I think a Reuben needs it so I just make a recipe from the internet. Well this is the best by far!!
I neglected to say, I didn’t put any salt in it. I’m a salt lover, but this did not need it in my opinion. 🙂
Awesome! Easy and delish! Made for Ruben “egg rolls”, and it was amazing. Better than the restaurant version we tried. Thank you for sharing!!
Love, LOVE, LOVE this dressing! I make it with Sriracha or Tobasco Ketchup and 1/4 tsp black pepper for an extra zing. It’s great!
I think one could add a little horseradish to this as well, to great effect.
I just made a batch and it is curing in the fridge. Horseradish sounds like an excellent contribution, so I added about 1/2 tsp. We’ll see. But I bet it’ll be great. Thanks for this suggestion, don’t know why it didn’t cross my mind earlier!
Excellent recipe. Just made it (didn’t blend yet) but still tastes great.
LOVE This Recipe, with red onion =)
A little bit of minced celery is also great in it!!
Hi. Hi I’m looking forward to making this. May i ask if the kechup to be used is tomato kechup? May i use HEINZ TOMATO KECHUP? Thank you.
I just put corned beef onto cook. This dressing will be great for reubens, can’t wait. Thanks!
Beware of buying sweet pickle relish. Read the ingredients. Most, if not all, have a chemical called sodium benzoate in it. It’s toxic.
I LOVE this recipe, but it comes out too thick. I use Claussen pickle relish and maybe it has less liquid. I hate to add water because the flavor is so wonderfully tangy. Any ideas? More vinegar?
I think a little splash of pickle juice, if you have it, would be amazing if you’d like it a bit thinner.
Thanks for sharing this recipe. My daughter and I love 1000 island dressing. I would like to start making my own dressings.
Great recipe. I was too lazy to use fresh garlic and subbed garlic powder with excellent results. I had homemade hot pepper relish and I was so happy with the results of this easy and fresh dressing. Fantastic recommendation to use chili garlic sauce. Will try. I also recommend that ingredient in my homemade cocktail sauce
That relish sounds like a fantastic addition!
Just made this, it just tastes like mayo! I was so excited after reading reviews but am so disappointed now! What a waste of time, I followed the recipe to a T!
I’m betting you’re not a fan of mayo..I’m not either! I substituted mayo with nonfat plain greek yogurt and it’s phenomenal!!!
On the contrary, I love Mayo! This just tasted nothing like Thousand Island
Maybe you should have let it sit at least an hour as the instructions state
If it looks too much like mayo, add more chili sauce. Somebody up there didn’t like the egg. That has to be chopped up fine. I also add a good pinch of oregano. Makes a difference.
I was making reubens last night and had no thousand island dressing. I am so lucky to have found your recipe. Made that up quick using half mayo and half greek yogurt. Turned out great. My husband ask if I had done something different to the sandwich, because it was the best reuben he has had. I was very happy to report that it was the dressing that made it so good. I make a lot of my own dressing and will add this one to my box as well. Plan to add a little siriacha sauce sometime for a change in flavor to our sandwiches.
So easy and delicious!!! Poured over a shrimp and tuna salad with fresh tomatoes. Hard boiled egg would have made it complete, but didn’t have any.
Best 1000 island ever!
As a bachelor, I make have a recipe. Works great. Also I whisk in 2 forkfuls of honey. Way better!
Just made this for vegan modified Reubens (tofurkey cold cuts, daiya cheese, etc…). Perfect dressing. And everyone who had one agrees. Thanks 🙂
Well now I am craving a vegan Reuben. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment; so glad you liked the recipe!
This is so good i make it everyday i love it so much because it tASTE so good and my family and friends all say its good =.
I made this Thousand island dressing for the the Ruben sandwiches I grilled tonight and it was absolutely a hit . Deliciously perfect and I’ll make it fresh from now on . I added a little extra hot sauce to kick it up just a notch , to make our corned beef juicy in every bite .
I made a double batch of this dressing and it was gone in less than a week. Everything from cherry tomatoes, salads, and of course on my hamburgers. This has to be the most delicious 1,000 island dressing I’ve ever made or tasted in a restaurant. Be sure to use a quality mayo, like Best Foods, and don’t forget the finely diced celery. You will NOT find a better recipe anywhere in my humble opinion!! Enjoy!
Thanks so much for your review, Don! So glad you like the recipe. 🙂
that is a completely flawed recipe. you should use french dressing rather than ketchup. ketchup is way to vinegary already. infact, try this:
1/2 C mayo
2 tbsp french
1 tsp dill relish
1 tsp sweet relish
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp chopped or minced onion
1/8 tsp black pepper
dash of salt
Instead of using relish I chopped up some pickles and used some of the brine, it worked out really well! So happy I’ve finally started making my own dressing because I’m constantly going through bottles with how many salads we make, and our little ones will only touch green leafy dishes if its smothered in thousand island dressing! Thanks for sharing!
So glad everyone likes it! 🙂 Thanks Sam!
Just made this recipe with vegan mayo for some vegan big macs using Beyond Burgers. It’s awesome and much better than the “special sauce” used by the Golden Arches. Thank you!
Vegan Big Macs – yum! 🙂
Very simple to put together and its tastes great. We ate it with Reuben sandwiches.
So glad you liked it! Thanks for the rating. 🙂
I made this recipe non fat by switching out the mayo for non fat plain greek yogurt and it’s amazing for 1/12th of the calories and none of the fat!
I’ll be using this to top off a reuben soup this weekend 😊
I would think that you would need some way to afford to constantly upgrade your dressings and the massive time it takes to take pictures, download and publish your information. I had a site and it was very time-consuming.
You have a great site and I want to wish you the best.
Could I use tartar sauce instead of mayo, relish and vinegar?
Going to try this this weekend for my husband using the Vegenaise because he can’t have dairy. So looking forward to it.
Thank you sooo much!