Homemade Thousand Island Dressing ♥

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, another easy homemade salad dressing ♥ A Veggie Venture
Today's easy-easy and delicious-delicious salad dressing recipe, Thousand Island. Yes, you really can make it at home with ingredients you probably already have on hand. And it's not just as good as what you can buy in the grocery stores, it's better!

Fresh & Seasonal, a Summer Classic. Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Very Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

"Eating Out" at a Small-Town Steakhouse

Thousand Island Dressing is the stuff of my childhood, draped thick across a fat wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce, topped and sided with croutons and the only salad at the Country House, the steak place at the edge of town and the only place to eat out at night in the small Minnesota town where I grew up and still call home.

The Country House is still there, though now sporting a new name three or so owners ago. The beer signs still light the bar, fluorescent dreams of sky-blue water and five-pound walleye. And the door from the kitchen still swings straight into the main room where the tables remain arranged exactly the same as f – – –, um, let's just say, some years back.

Back then, the menu was sheathed in plastic and short: steak (served with fries or foil-wrapped baked potatoes) and deep-fried shrimp (so exotic!) and the house specialty, fresh walleye from the Lake (ordered only by tourists since locals could catch their own for free).

Still, what I remember most is the relish tray (fry-cut carrots; black olives from cans, no doubt; and candied apple rings, my sister reminds me) and the iceberg wedges that served for salad.

At home, there was no choice of dressing, just whatever Mom put on the table. But at the Country House – la-di-la – we got to choose. What novelty, deciding for ourselves: Italian vinaigrette ("that's just oil and vinegar and some spices," my mom coached) or creamy Italian ("you'd like this, Lon," she'd encourage with only small signs of growing impatience) or French or the oh-so-travel-inspiring Thousand Island.

Still it's been years and years since I've tasted the déclassé Thousand Island. But it won't be long until the next time, now that I've learned how easy it is to make homemade Thousand Island, and how good it is, in 2020 as well as, well, 19x0. (Sorry, that x key just sticks ...)

Thousand Island's Origin Story ... Love or Lore? You Pick

Who knows, really, how Thousand Island salad dressing became such standard fare. But NPR took a close look, the story involves a castle, real islands (one heart-shaped), a private yacht and the rest, as they say, is ... perhaps not quite history but a good story. See Thousand Islands, Two Tales: Who Really Invented That Dressing?.

Thousand Island: Old Fashioned And Now Healthy Homemade

It turns out, I make Homemade Thousand Island Dressing again and again, especially in summer. We especially like it with iceberg lettuce. Here's how we do it, try Loaded Iceberg Steaks with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing!

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing takes just minutes to mix up. Check your fridge, you've probably got everything on hand already, no special trip or special order from the grocery. And when you run out? Just make more, with what you've got. Never pay $3 or $4 or $5 for Thousand Island again!

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, another easy homemade salad dressing ♥ A Veggie Venture

Just updated. First published way back in 2007.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 1 cup

1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise (or regular mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh or roasted red pepper, chopped a bit
1 tablespoon onion, minced a bit
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
Pinch cayenne pepper
about 2 tablespoons water (use less or more to achieve consistency you like, don't feel the need to replicate the gloppy globby dressings from the store)

Whiz in a mini food processor. Alternatively, skip the food processor and just combine all the ingredients with a whisk, you'll just need to finely chop or grate the bell pepper, onion and parsley before adding. Serve! Keeps for a couple of weeks. I store it in a re-cycled glass salad dressing bottle, easy to pour!

SUBSTITUTES Think of Thousand Island as a template more than a precise list of ingredients. No mayo? Short on mayo? Supplement with sour cream or low-fat yogurt. No ketchup? Just find something tomato-ish, I once made an extra-good batch with this old-old recipe from my Canadian family, Ripe-Tomato Relish with Peaches & Pears (Sharon's Pickle). No lemon juice? Use vinegar. No roasted pepper? Maybe your pantry has one of those little jars of pimento. You get the idea ...

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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2007, 2017 & 2020 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing was a childhood favorite of mine, too!

  2. Well, that key should be stuck!
    What's old is new again ... it's always fun to find the old things over again, like Spike flavoring at Kalyn's the other day and now you.
    Oops I don't me we're old things, well, I think actually I am. Enough silly.
    There was a dressing I used to make before I was married even ... I'll have to see if I can retrieve that one.
    Your Thousand Island reminds me of it except the one I used had an egg I think. Yours look great. May try it before I find the other.

  3. AnonymousMay 02, 2007

    A nice post, nicely written! I love that deep-fried shrimp was exotic. Growing up in St. Louis during that same key-sticking period [I'm guessing], I certainly felt sophisticated ordering it as a teen.

    Sometimes déclassé pleasures are the best, aren't they? Thousand Island was my go to dressing for the longest time.

  4. AnonymousMay 02, 2007

    And pickled herring was on the relish tray, too. Yum! I think Alanna and I are the only people I know who grew up eating pickled herring.

    The Sister

  5. Hmm .. Thousand Island dressing is called "De 1000 öarnas salladssås" in Swedish.

    I found a recipe in a cookbook from 1963. This recipe calls for chili sauce (like ketchup), lemon juice, a few drops of oil and some mayo. (Serve with seafood).

    Since i am interested in history, this dressing must have a history, I thought.

    Googling, I found several sites: "The history of Thousand Island Dressing dates back to the early days of the 20th century and centers in the small resort village of Clayton, New York...."

    "...In the early 20th century, Sophia LaLonde of Clayton, N.Y., served the dressing at dinner for guests of her husband, who was a popular fishing guide. One of the dinner guests was leading actress May Irwin. It was Irwin who christened the dressing with the Thousand Island name, and the dressing was served by Irwin's request at the Herald Hotel in Clayton. The actress also introduced the dressing to the wider world when she gave LaLonde's recipe to the owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City."

  6. Lydia ~ This is feeling like a xxty-something reunion!

    Tanna ~ Would love to see your dressing. Homemade salad dressing are SO UNLIKE the bottled versions.

    Terry B ~ Ah yes, the shrimp. I loved to order it at the Country House because it was never ever served at home. PS Thanks!!

    My Dear Sister ~ Ah yes, the herring. And of course, now that you mention it, it was over the Christmas herring that we had this reminiscence. No doubt, herring on the appetizer platter was the result of all the Scandihoovian influence in the northern reaches of Minnesota.

    Karin ~ Thanks for all the information! It's one of the things I love about your site!

  7. AnonymousMay 03, 2007

    Sounds lovely, gonna make a point of adding to my shopping lis all the bits i need for next week!

  8. Mmm, that does look good. Loved your story about the restaurant, too.

  9. That reminded me of eating out at the Green Lantern as a child. When it came time to order their dressing, my brother ordered 1000 Island and my nephew said he only wanted one island on his please! Thanks for that memory Alanna!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna