Thousand Island Dressing is that tasty “special sauce” that elevates salads and burgers and Reubens everywhere … and the great news is that Homemade Thousand Island Dressing is super, duper easy to make.

A spoonful of Thousand Island dressing

In fact, it is so easy to make homemade 1000 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

Readers say …
“Absolutely amazing! This is recipe sooo good! And easy! It’s way better than store bought bottled thousand island. Thank you! for this recipe.”

– Ti Kwon

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.


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.

A salad plus ingredients for Thousand Island Dressing

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.

A bowl of Thousand Island salad dressing being whisked

Ideas for Customizing Thousand Island Dressing

  • To make a vegan version, just swap in some vegan mayo like Vegenaise.
  • 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!

How to Store 1000 Island Dressing

Keep your dressing in an airtight container or jar and store it in the refrigerator. It should keep well for up to 7 days.

Can I Freeze This Sauce?

I don’t recommend freezing thousand island because of the mayo. Freezing and thawing it could alter the texture.

Dietary Questions

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!

Is it Gluten Free?

Yes! As written this Thousand Island Dressing recipe is gluten free.

More Salad & Salad Dressing Goodness

4.89 from 67 votes

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Author: Kare
Yield: 6 servings
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 burger as it is over a salad. Far less expensive than store-bought and it tastes, well, a thousand times better!


  • 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.



Storage Notes

Keeps refrigerated for up to a week. 

Substitute Ideas

Sweet relish substitute ideas: 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. 
Onion powder substitute ideas: 1/4 teaspoon onion powder works instead of the fresh onion. 

Vegan Option

Use a vegan mayo like Vegenaise. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 2tablespoons, Calories: 57kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 273mg, Potassium: 16mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 100IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Iron: 1mg

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