Make Thousand Island Dressing From Scratch || Very Easy To Do

You can make thousand island dressing in just minutes. It tastes much better than store bought versions, and it’s better for you too.

overview of thousand island dressing in a jar next to a salad

This dressing is incredibly creamy. It’s flavor profile perfectly blends the properties of sweet and tangy, making it the perfect topping for any salad.

But you’re going to want to put this dressing on EVERYTHING! It’s that good.


Thousand island dressing gets it’s name from a 50 mile stretch of islands, 1,864 in total, that are situated in the St. Lawrence river. These islands straddle the United States and Canadian border.

There was a time when this destination was a holiday retreat that was visited almost exclusively by the elite.

This dressing was invented there by a chef named Oscar Tschirky. He was working onboard the steam yacht of George Boldt when he whipped up this tasty salad topping.

His creation gained extraordinary popularity shortly after because Boldt put it on the menu at his New York City hotel, the Waldorf Astoria.

Tschirky’s original recipe had a hard boiled egg in it. I’m not certain if it is still commonly made this way or not. But I prefer it without the egg, and it seems that those putting out recipes on the big ‘ol interweb feel the same.

The version in this post does not contain an egg. You can decide for yourself whether or not you want to include it in your fresh made batch.


The ingredients used in this recipe for thousand island dressing are all very common kitchen staples. You likely already have them in your kitchen.

ingredients for homemade dressing on a counter

You can find exact measurements in the recipe card at the end of this post. But here’s a quick list of what you’ll need to to put it together …

  • MAYONNAISE – This ingredient comprises the base of this great dressing. It is responsible for it’s creamy texture. There is a recipe for homemade mayonnaise on the blog, if you would like to make your own for this dressing.
  • ONION – Yellow onion is the preferred choice for this recipe. You can use any onion that you like though.
  • KETCHUP – The ketchup lends this recipe a distinct tomato flavor. There is a recipe for homemade ketchup on the blog as well, if you prefer to make your own when making this dressing recipe.
  • SWEET RELISH – Sweet relish is largely responsible for the signature sweetness of this recipe.
  • DILL RELISH – Dill relish is not usually included in recipes for thousand island dressing. I add it to mine because I like the way the sweet and dill relishes play off of one another. It adds a bit of tang which I find delicious. However, it is not consistent with the traditional flavor profile of the dish.
  • LEMON JUICE – Use fresh squeezed lemon juice if you’ve got it. This ingredient is what is traditionally used to give this dressing a bit of tang.
  • PAPRIKA – I like to use smoked paprika in this dressing. You can use regular paprika if you prefer it.
  • SALT – This ingredient is used in this recipe to enhance all of the other flavors.


If you decide last minute that you want some thousand island dressing for your dinner, you can whip it up and eat it right away. It’s delicious!

BUT … if you are able to plan ahead and let it sit in the fridge for a day or two before you eat it, that’s better yet.

It gives the flavors time to meld together and bring out the best in each other. So, go that route if you can.

I like to make a dressing or two on a Sunday afternoon so that I have them ready throughout the week. This dressing often makes the cut. There are recipes for balsamic mustard dressing, dill dressing, spicy peanut dressing, and tangy mustard dressing on the blog that often make the cut as well.

To make thousand island dressing, simply put all of the ingredients in a pint jar and stir them together. It’s that easy.

woman stirring homemade sauce in a mason jar

I sometimes like to blend the onion into the dressing, so I use an immersion blender. To do it this way you will want to add all of the ingredients to a pint jar, except the relishes, and blend them together.

woman blending homemade sauce in a mason jar

Then stir in the relishes and you’re done. Just like that!


There are so many ways to use thousand island dressing that it’s hard to know where to start. But, I’m going to go with dispelling a myth as the starting point.

woman drizzling homemade dressing over a salad

And that is the fact that many people are mistakenly under the impression that this dressing is indeed the secret sauce on a McDonald’s big mac. This is simply not true.

Although, it is very similar to McDonald’s secret sauce, and it makes an amazing burger topping. As a matter of fact, it makes a great sandwich topping all around. So, experiment with this dressing as a sandwich topping to your hearts content.

It is well known as the dressing that adorns a reuben sandwich. And for good reason, it’s flavor profile is perfect for that dish.

Many years ago when I worked at an inn in the Pcocono Mountains the kitchen put out a sandwich with this dressing that remains in my memory (and sometimes in my kitchen) to this day.

If you’d like to give it a try for yourself … put some roast beef, swiss cheese, and shredded lettuce on a croissant and top it with thousand island dressing. You can thank me later!

This dressing is great for a veggie dip and even better to dip your fries. It’s fantastic on salads, that after all is what dressings do … they dress salads.

And it can be used as a side sauce for boiled dinners, corned beef and cabbage, and as a substitute for tartar sauce with your favorite fish dishes.


I’m a stick to the classic recipe kind of girl. BUT, if you are not, there are a lot of ways to switch up this thousand island dressing recipe if you like.

thousand island dressing in a condiment dish

I’ve created a list of suggestions for you to get your creative juices flowing …

  • Add a finely chopped boiled egg to the recipe. Or blend it in with an immersion blender. This ingredient actually is part of the original recipe for this dressing.
  • Add worcestershire sauce.
  • Use tomato sauce or paste instead of ketchup.
  • Use cocktail sauce in place of ketchup.
  • Add tabasco sauce, or any other hot sauce of your choice.
  • Add horseradish.
  • Eliminate the sweet relish to make the recipe a little more tart.
  • Eliminate the dill relish to make the recipe a little more sweet.


I’m seeing other bloggers suggesting that this dressing will last for one week in the refrigerator. My experience with food safety courses says that just silly bunk. And my personal experience in the kitchen confirms it.

overview of freshly made thousand island dressing in a mason jar

According to food safety guidelines this dressing will last 10 days in the refrigerator. I find that it doesn’t last in the fridge longer than that anyway.

There are so many great ways to use it up. And it’s tasty enough that I want to eat it up. So it doesn’t stick around very long.

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pinnable image for thousand island dressing

If you try this recipe and love it, please give it 5 stars! It supports my work more than you may realize, and I appreciate that a great deal!

You can also show your support by tagging me on Facebook @sustainableslowliving and/or Instagram @slowlivingbydianegail when you post a pic of your finished dressing.

overview of thousand island dressing in a jar next to a salad
Yield: 1 1/2 CUPS


Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

This thousand island dressing is sweet and tangy and DELICIOUS! It can be made in just minutes, and it's good for you too!


  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbls sweet relish
  • 1 tbls dill relish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together well.
  2. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 134Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 3/18/2023. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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