Thousand Island Dressing

SauceSalad Dressing

Creamy, sweet and tangy—Thousand Island Dressing is so good made from scratch. Use it on burgers, Reubens, salads, and more.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

If the craving for a Reuben sandwich strikes or you need a “secret sauce” for your next burger, you probably have all of the necessary ingredients around to make this quick, creamy and delicious dressing.

Homemade Thousand Island dressing takes just minutes to whip together, and like most food, the flavor of homemade outperforms even the best bottle of store-bought.

Traditional versions of this dressing are often made using a hardboiled egg, but I decided to leave it out for two reasons. First, of the four versions I created, my taste testers liked the one with egg the least.

Second, hardboiled eggs have a strong odor, even when mixed with other ingredients, and they overwhelmed the dressing.

Use thousand island dressing on iceberg lettuce, or on burgers for a homemade Big Mac

I found a few versions online that use plain yogurt instead of mayo. I tried that, too, but when it comes to Thousand Island, I think it’s best to use mayo. This is traditionally a fairly sweet dressing intended to temper the bitterness of certain salad greens. With that in mind, the sharpness from plain yogurt interferes too much with the sweetness of the dressing.

Thousand Island is most famous for being the secret sauce on McDonald’s Big Macs and the creamy spread on tangy, cheesy, meaty Reuben sandwiches, but it’s also a fantastic dipping sauce for vegetables—or, as one taste tester suggested, crispy French fries.

Surprise your guests with some zippy homemade Thousand Island dressing on the relish tray!

Thousand Island Dressing Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: A little more than 1 cup

This dressing is ready to eat as soon as you mix it, but the flavors meld together and the onions soften creating a more complex flavor after 24 hours in the fridge. For a sweeter dressing, add a little more pickle relish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Method

1 Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.

ingredients in thousand island dressing What's in Thousand Island Dressing

2 Transfer to a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator until needed. For best flavor, wait 24 hours for the flavors to meld. The dressing will keep for about a week.

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Summer Miller

Summer Miller is a freelance writer, recipe developer and author based in Nebraska. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Grit, SAVEUR, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others. Her first book is New Prairie Kitchen (Agate Publishing, 2015).

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16 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Karen

    I don’t normally use Thousand Island dressing for salads, but making a cup with this recipe for Reubens was great. It was delicious!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • M

    Emma,
    Thank you for the quick response to my question. I used Hellmanns in your recipe, and am patiently waiting to use it on my wedged salads tonight.

  • M

    I’m a “first time” maker of homemade Thousand Island dressing and am anxious to make it according to your recipe. Therefore I want to use the correct ingredients. Here’s my question: You list Mayo in your recipe and I’ve seen jars in the store labeled specifically MAYO. In my pantry, I have the brands of Miracle Whip (a sweeter taste to my palate) and Hellmanns (a more tangy taste for me) but no MAYO. In your opinion, which of the two pantry items that I have would work best to create that sweet/tangy flavor?
    Thank you, in advance.

  • Charlynn Yap

    May I know what ketchup to use? Can I use Heinz tomato kechup? Then do I use regular mayo or Japanese mayo?

  • Corinna

    Would you be able to substitute the mayo for non-fat Greek yogurt? I have done that with a honey mustard recipe with success. Thank you!

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