Creamy, tangy and a little bit sweet, this quick and easy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing is made with ingredients you already have on hand.

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Overhead image of plated thousand island dressing drizzled with homemade thousand island dressing with salad and jar of dressing on light wood background.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing: Call me crazy, but Thousand Island Dressing has been a favorite of mine since I was a child.

So whenever we went out to eat, I always got 1000 Island on my salad. As an adult, not much has changed. It is still the dressing I ask for the most when I order a salad, especially at the restaurants that I know make their own “homemade” version of the recipe.

This is my favorite homemade thousand island dressing. It’s creamy, tangy, and has the just-right amount of sweetness. I’m not even kidding you when I say it can be made in 5 minutes. And with a handful of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge.

Oh, and did I mention it’s 1000 times better than what you can buy at the store. ;)

So What Is Homemade Thousand Island Dressing?

In short, thousand island is an American dressing that is mayonnaise-based and made up of many ingredient variations. Each variation concoction’s result ends up creamy, tangy, and with a touch of sweetness.

A spoonful of homemade thousand island dressing sitting on a white marble top next to a jar of dressing.

Where Did Thousand Island Dressing Get It’s Name?

The dressing dates back to a small resort village of Clayton, N.Y. A fishing guide named George LaLonde, Jr guided visiting fishermen through the scenic, fish-filled waters of the 1000 Islands. George served his fishing parties shore dinners.

The dinners became very popular and always included a different and unusual salad dressing. George’s wife, Sophia, created the dressing. And although she created it, she wasn’t the one who named it. 

You can read who did name the dressing and other fun and interesting facts about the dressings name and origin here.

What Is 1000 Island Dressing Made Of?

This recipe combines the most common pantry and refrigerator staples making it the perfect from-scratch homemade dressing recipe.

Ingredients for Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

It Only Takes 8:

  • Mayonaise
  • Ketchup
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Sweet Pickle Relish
  • Minced Onion (dry)
  • Paprika
  • Sugar
  • Salt

You will notice that I use dry minced onion. I do that because it extends the life of the homemade dressing.

You can use raw onion, but remember it will only be good for as long as the raw onion lasts, which would be about a week.

It’s best to make the dressing and let it sit overnight in the fridge rather than using it right away. Doing this gives the minced onions time to absorb the liquid, which softens them.

As you can see, there’s nothing fancy about those ingredients, but they sure come together and make a delicious dressing that’s perfect for showing off any fresh green salad.

How To Make Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Let me tell you, it couldn’t be easier!

  1. Gather the ingredients you’ll need for the recipe.
  2. Measure them out and into a bowl.
  3. Using a whisk, stir everything together until smooth and creamy.
  4. Chill the dressing until you’re ready to serve.

What You’ll Love About This Recipe:

  • EASY – This recipe comes together with simple ingredients you probably already have on hand.
  • FAST – You can whip homemade thousand island dressing up in 5 minutes or less.
  • CONVENIENT – It’s so handy to have this salad dressing made and in your refrigerator when you’re ready to use it.
  • FROM SCRATCH – Let’s be real; everything tastes better from scratch. And this homemade thousand island dressing is no exception. Not to mention how easy it is to make.
  • DELICIOUS – The from-scratch flavor beats the store-bought varieties all day, any day.

I especially love using this homemade thousand island for the taco sauce in my Cold Taco Salad recipe. And it’s delicious combined on a tossed salad with these delicious Crispy Homemade Garlic-Herb Croutons.

A plate of salad drizzled with homemade thousand island dressing with salad bowl and dressing sitting on light wooden surface.

Although this recipe tastes great, and I wouldn’t change it, it can be tweaked to suit different taste buds.

The original recipe (from the story above) is a homemade thousand island dressing with eggs (hard-boiled). But many variations have surfaced over the years.

That’s what’s so great about making it homemade. You can change the flavor and still have a delicious dressing with a few tweaks and additions.

My motto with this homemade recipe is less is best. For instance, I do not like my dressing swimming with pickle relish. This recipe has just the right amount of relish to the dressing ratio for my family and me.

If you prefer a thousand island dressing without relish, you could certainly leave it out. But then it wouldn’t really be thousand island, would it?

So as I’ve said, I don’t like too much relish in my dressing, yet I think the amount in this recipe is just right without overpowering the creamy texture that I love.

The same goes with the minced onions. Oh, and I’m a garlic lover. I love, love, love it! But I can do without it in this recipe, which says a lot because I usually put it in about everything.

I do always add a couple of twists of black pepper from the pepper grinder at the table. But I eat pepper on everything!


  • You can use chili sauce instead of ketchup. I’ve tried it – it’s not my jam, but if you like it, go for it.
  • If you like more pickle relish, add to your heart’s content by all means.
  • Adjust the sugar – you can play with it to find the sweetness that’s just right for you.
  • You can add garlic powder if you’d like.
  • Fresh raw onion (and garlic) can be used, but keep in mind it will shorten the shelf life.
  • You’ll notice this recipe doesn’t have pepper. You can definitely add it if you want. I like adding a couple of twists of cracked black pepper when I serve it.
  • I often add several drops of hot sauce to this recipe. Love it!
A plated lettuce salad drizzled with homemade thousand island dressing with a salad and jar of dressing in the background.

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FAQs About Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Absolutely! It’s even better if you do. I always make mine the day before I plan to use it.

This homemade dressing has a creamy texture and is tangy with a sweet side. Since this recipe is easily customized, you can adjust the ingredients to fit your desired taste.

Thousand island is used mainly on leaf lettuce salads. But it’s also the creamy, tangy spread on the delicious ever-popular Reuban sandwiches. This dressing makes a fantastic burger sauce. It’s also great as a yummy veggie dip and is even popular drizzled over french fries.

Since the dressing contains mayonnaise, which contains eggs, it will need to be kept in the fridge.

This dressing will be good for up to two weeks in the fridge. Using fresh raw onion or garlic can reduce that time to one week.

The reason for this is that the shelf life of those ingredients is not as long as the other ingredients made using preservatives.

This recipe calls for dried minced onion, which has a longer shelf life than raw onion, so this can last even longer than two weeks.

Always use your best judgment – if the dressing develops an off flavor, odor, or appearance, it should be discarded.

Yep, you sure can.

Do You Love Thousand Island Dressing?

I hope by now you’re thinking you’ll give this recipe a try. Even if thousand island isn’t your favorite, you might find that you like this homemade version. And if you don’t think you’d like it on salads, but you love Reuben sandwiches, it’s quite possible you’ll love this thousand island dressing for Reubens.

I hope you’ll give it a try, love it, and come back to tell me in the comments!

A spoonful of homemade thousand island dressing sitting next to a jar of dressing sitting on a marble top.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Creamy, tangy and a little bit sweet, this quick and easy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing is made with ingredients you already have on hand.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Dressing, Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 128 kcal


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp sweet pickle relish heaping; drained (save juice) and then squeezed between paper towels to remove excess juice still on pickles.
  • 1 tsp minced onion (dry)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika heaping
  • 1/4 tsp salt heaping
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp sugar heaping


  • In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together.
  • Cover and refrigerate – overnight is best.
  • Store covered leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks – maybe longer.


If you’d like a thinner dressing, you can add some of the drained relish juice to thin it out.


Serving: 2TBSP | Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 231mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 64IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional values (per serving) are approximates only and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Keyword homemade thousand island dressing
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