Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Whether used as a salad dressing or a “secret burger sauce,” this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!Somewhere east of Buffalo and a bit south of the Canadian border lies an island 1,864 islands.  The Thousand Islands region lies at the intersection of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.  The islands themselves are split between New York state and the Canadian province of Ontario.  And get this – in order to count as one of the Thousand Islands, the island must have at least one square foot of land above water year-round and it must support at least two living trees.  I want to know whose job it is to go around and count the islands each year.

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!The Thousand Islands region is absolutely stunning.  You’ll need a boat to reach most of the islands, however a large percentage of the islands don’t allow visitors.  Then again, if the island is one square foot with two trees, there’s not really much to visit.  However, several of the Thousand Islands have interesting stories.  Take Deer Island, for instance.  Deer Island is owned by the Skull and Bones, a secret society at Yale University.  And here I thought the Skull and Bones was a fictitious group created for The Skulls, a movie from back in year 2000.

Then there’s Heart Island.  According to legend, George Boldt (owner of New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel) began building a castle on Heart Island in 1900 for his wife.  Sadly, she passed away suddenly, and the castle remained unfinished and neglected.  A popular rumor suggests that Boldt’s wife actually ran away with the chauffeur instead.

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority purchased Heart Island and Boldt Castle in the 1970’s and completed construction according to Boldt’s original design.  Now Boldt Castle is a famous spot for weddings.  I personally find it ironic that a place which hosts hundreds of weddings a year was originally built for a woman who either ran away with the chauffeur or died tragically.  Nevertheless, the location is indeed stunning.

Image Credit: https://www.boldtcastle.com

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Like many recipes, the history of Thousand Island Dressing is pretty murky.  By all accounts, the popular salad dressing did indeed originate in the Thousand Islands region.  However, beyond that, the facts fade into fiction.  One of the more popular stories is that George Boldt (remember him?) discovered Thousand Island dressing on one of his trips to the region.  He then took the recipe back to New York City and instructed his kitchen staff to begin serving it at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!No matter the true origin of this recipe, I can say that it has long been one of my favorites.  Growing up, Thousand Island dressing was the only salad dressing that we kept in the house.  As such, I thought all salads should be accompanied by Thousand Island.  (In a pinch, I’d go for ranch dressing…but only if we were out to eat and the restaurant didn’t have Thousand Island.)

In my experience, folks often have strong opinions about Thousand Island dressing.  You either love it or hate it.  Nevertheless, did you know that In-N-Out Burger’s “secret spread” is really just a variation of Thousand Island?  It’s true.  Same with McDonald’s Big Mac sauce.  It’s also a variation of Thousand Island.  So if you don’t like Thousand Island as a salad dressing, perhaps try it on a burger instead!

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!There are many different variations of Thousand Island Dressing, but I personally love this one.  My mother passed this recipe down to me years ago, and I occasionally make a batch whenever I’m craving a good salad.  (Thousand Island dressing is also great on Reuben Sandwiches, too.  Just sayin’.)  This mayonnaise-ketchup based condiment is super easy to make.  Just put everything into a food processor or blender and pulse it several times.  If you like your dressing chunky, stop there.  If you like it smooth, keep on pulsing.  Enjoy!

Did you make a batch of this Homemade Thousand Island Dressing at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog)!

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 286kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 large sweet pickles
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 Tbsp diced roasted red peppers
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs

Instructions

  • Using a food processor or blender, add all ingredients and pulse until mixture reaches desired texture.

Whether used as a salad dressing or a "secret burger sauce," this homemade version of Thousand Island Dressing is delicious and super easy to make!

Looking for more dressings and sauces?  Check out these other favorites, too:

This Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing is a quick and easy dressing for fresh summer chopped salads!Creamy Cucumber Dill Dressing

This Mandarin Beet Salad with Poppyseed Dressing makes for an easy and delicious winter lunch!Mandarin Beet Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Get tailgating season started off right with this tasty Cajun Grilled Shrimp with Spicy Dipping Sauce!Cajun Grilled Shrimp with Spicy Dipping Sauce

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32 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The Thousand Island Region is indeed beautiful (except for the black biting flies). A great backstory, David. Me, I think she ran away with the chauffeur.
    A great recipe your mom passed down to you and that you’ve now kindly passed down to us.
    I love Thousand Island dressing, especially as a dip for my pizza and it’s not a Reuben without TI dressing in my opinion.

    1. Oh, man, the black flies. I totally know what you’re talking about! So using TI dressing as a dip for pizza? Interesting! I think I would like that. Also, I’m with you on the chauffeur theory…haha. Thanks, Ron!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow! What a beautiful place! You always share such fun and interesting little tidbits.
    And thousand island dressing? Love it! I have a jar of store-bought in our fridge right now but when that’s gone I’m totally making this. Perfect for the summer season with all the salads and grilling. Pinned! Hope you’re having a lovely week, David!

    1. Homemade Thousand Island dressing really isn’t that hard to make at all – everything goes into the food processor. Of course, it doesn’t last as long as the store-bought stuff, but then again you probably won’t have to worry about that as it tastes so much better! Thanks, Dawn!

  3. 5 stars
    So interesting. I never even knew there was an area called Thousand Islands. Must add it to my bucket list. I just made this dressing for the first time last week. We like to add it to taco salad and we were all out. There are so many variations of the dressing out there – the one I made didn’t have hard boiled eggs. I will need to try your version next time. It looks thick and delicious!

    1. Definitely add the Thousand Islands to your bucket list – in fact, it might not be all that far of a drive for you. I’m not entirely sure about that one, but it’s worth looking into at least! Like most dressings, there are a ton of variations to this one – I highly, highly recommend the boiled eggs. Once those get blitzed in the food processor, the result is a super creamy and thick salad dressing. Yum!!

    1. You and me both, Marissa! We only ate Thousand Island growing up – it’s probably related to the ketchup in there. Hah! Either way, we eat a lot of different dressings now, but this one remains a favorite for sure!

  4. 5 stars
    Wow 1,864 islands, thats a paradise to visit, I had visited the hundred islands in the Philippines and I was impressed, what more if its 1700+ more. So this is how the secret burger sauce is made, I have to try this on my next burger adventure

    1. There are indeed a lot of islands in the Thousand Islands region. Of course, some of them are so small that only 2 trees grow on them. Either way, the area is absolutely gorgeous! And, yes, this Thousand Island dressing recipe would indeed be good on a burger. I love a good grilled burger in the summer! Thanks, Raymund!

  5. Fascinating! I never liked the stuff, but I never have liked any bottled dressings, like those offered at salad bars. Can’t wait to give this a try. I know it will be so much better than what I remember!

    1. You make a great point about bottled dressings. They are ok, and some brands are better than others – but homemade always wins! Thanks, Mimi!

  6. 5 stars
    This was one of my favourite dressings growing up – and I have never made my own!! I cannot wait to change that soon – homemade is always best 😉

    1. I’m with ya, Alex! My mind was blown when my Mom shared this recipe with me. It’s SO much better than the store-bought version, too. 🙂 Thanks so much!

    1. Homemade Thousand Island is SO good, Dawn! This reminds me of childhood (since I used to only eat Thousand Island) but it’s so much better. 🙂

  7. well that’s interesting. i always assumed the thousand islands were in the Caribbean or somewhere like that:) Sounds like a very tasty dressing david.

    1. I can see why you’d guess the Thousand Islands were in the Caribbean. But they’re actually on the border between the US and Canada. That region is amazing! And so is this dressing. 🙂 Thanks, Sherry!

  8. 5 stars
    David,
    Such a informative post. I never had heard about thousand island dressing before and in fact I thought it’s a mythical island straight making its way into the title of your post. It turns out there is so much new to learn in your blog for a first timer.
    I’m intrigued by your recipe and have bookmarked it. Thanks.

    1. Nope, the Thousand Islands are an actual place, Hasin. And it’s a beautiful region with all of those islands scattered along the river. So Thousand Island dressing is a favorite here in our house. I love this version – it’s so creamy and delicious! It goes well on top of a salad, but it’s also great on burgers or Ron suggested as a dip for pizza. Sounds fun, right? Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Hi David,
    Never knew about the history of thousand island dressing, thanks for the interesting facts. Always used store-bought thousand island dressing, this recipe looks very simple. Thank you, David!

    1. Store-bought Thousand Island dressing is good, but homemade Thousand Island dressing is great. 🙂 I highly recommend making this version – it’s so thick and creamy. Thanks so much, Ruwani!

  10. Who needs Wikipedia when we have you!!?! But also I want to go the those islands! It has always been a fantasy of mine to have an island with a castle on it. I know you think I’m making this up but I asked my Dad for it every year until the age of….oh, um, 36. 😉
    I’ve never been a giant fan of the store-bought version, but I will always get it when it is made in-house. I think yours just might be my “secret-sauce” for my next burger night! I’ll report back with all the praise

    1. Hey, I’m just a walking encyclopedia of useless knowledge. Haha! It really helps in trivia, though – just don’t ask me about pop culture or movies/tv/music.

      So if you want an island with a castle on it, then I know where you can get one. The only problem is a little thing called the price tag. Maybe you can buy one of the islands with 2 trees on it and build a sand castle? 🙂

      And, yes, homemade Thousand Island is SO much better than the bottled version. Creamy, thick and delicious. Great on a wedge of iceberg or on top of a juicy grilled burger. Mmmm…burgers…

  11. I prefer 999 Island Dressing, but it’s so hard to find, and impossible to make at home. It’s so cool that this is a recipe handed down to you from your mom. When I was growing up, Thousand Island was always my favorite dressing, too. I lean toward vinaigrettes now at home, but if I find myself at a salad bar, I always slather my salad with Thousand Island. I like that your mom’s version has celery, bell pepper, and roasted red peppers – that sounds like a great combination.

    1. 999? I can’t say I’m familiar with that brand. I’ll have to watch for it. However, I have to say that this version is a favorite – it’s so thick and creamy. Perfect for summer salads or Reubens!

  12. Wow! Talk about a little know history! I agree, the details may be murky, but this Thousand Island dressing is ABSOLUTINE DELICIOUS! And that’s a FACT! 🙂

    1. Haha…thanks, Tonya! I agree with you. We might not know about Boldt Castle, but I can say with 100% certainty that this Thousand Island recipe is fantastic! 🙂

  13. 5 stars
    So fascinating to learn about the history of Thousand Island dressing! It was the only salad dressing we kept in the fridge growing up. Definitely gonna try this homemade version and bring back those childhood memories!

    1. I love learning the back-story behind recipes! Of course, so many of them are fuzzy when it comes to origins, but it’s still fun. And it’s kinda funny how many people ate Thousand Island dressing as a kid. I know I did, but then I gradually moved to different dressings as I got older. However, I still love a good Thousand Island! This homemade version is quite tasty. Thanks, Michelle!

    1. The Thousand Islands are a gorgeous spot in the country, Karen! Whenever we are allowed to travel again, I highly recommend a visit. Also, a roasted turkey sandwich with thousand island dressing sounds fantastic!!

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