Thousand Island Dressing: the sweet, tangy recipe for making the creamy secret sauce

Total time: 10 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist

Is there any other sauce as classic as the thousand island dressing? We don’t think so! This homemade thousand island dressing is creamy, sweet, and tangy—just what you need for burgers, fries, salads…heck, we say throw it on everything!

It’s an easy, quick recipe for the secret sauce that so many people love. For best results, it has to rest a while in the fridge for the flavors to develop. And the best part? You probably already have all the ingredients in your fridge! Quick, grab the mayonnaise, ketchup, sweet pickle relish, white onion, and get to work! You’ll want to serve this sauce on everything!

What Is Thousand Island?

Luckily, it’s not called Thousand Islands because you need that many ingredients. The sauce gets its name from the first place where it was first made—Thousand Islands, New York (and you thought New York was only known for its bagels!). It’s said that the sauce was first created by Sophie Lalonde, for her fishing guide husband.

It’s different than French dressing in that it’s usually served on burgers and sandwiches (instead of salads). It’s also more liquid and a bit more tangy.

Thousand Island Dressing vs Russian Dressing

The two dressings are quite similar, but Russian Dressing contains a few more extras like Worcestershire sauce, prepared horseradish, and lemon juice. It’s spicier and less sweet than Thousand Island. It’s thought that the name “Russian” gets its name from the addition of caviar, which it no longer contains.

Sometimes Thousand Island dressing contains chopped egg which acts as a thickener.

Thousand Island Dressing Ingredients

Mayonnaise – this recipe is made with mayonnaise so it does contains eggs!

Ketchup – add just the right amount of flavor

Sweet Pickle Relish – adds a bit of tang

Onion – white onion add flavor, especially when the dressing is eaten the next day

How To Make Thousand Island Dressing

This dressing could not be easier. Add all the ingredients to a bowl, mix, and refrigerate! Refrigeration gives the flavors time to develop, making the sauce extra delicious!

Thousand Island Dressing Variations

If you don’t eat eggs, use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, or use vegan mayonnaise.

If you prefer, you can add chopped hard-boiled egg and use it as a dressing for potato salad.

If you like more spice, add paprika to the sauce before refrigerating.

Give it umami flavor by adding Worcestershire sauce or tomato paste.

If you like it hot, add a dash of Tabasco or Sriracha.

Tips For Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

For a lighter texture, replace half of the mayonnaise with Miracle Whip. Another way to make the sauce lighter, is to use buttermilk instead of mayonnaise.

If you don’t have relish, use capers.

If you don’t want to use fresh onion, substitute it with 1/4 teaspoon onion powder.

How To Store Thousand Island Dressing

The Thousand Island Dressing can be stored for up to 1 week in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container.

1/2 cup
2 tbsp
sweet pickle relish
1 tbsp
2 tsp
white onion, finely diced
1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste


Add all the ingredients to a small bowl or glass jug.

Whisk to combine.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a lid) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.


The dressing is best served after 24 hours.

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