Creamy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Creamy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

How did Thousand Island, one of the most well known salad dressings get its name? I had pondered that question on and off over the years, but hadn’t put too much effort into finding an answer, so I decided it was finally time to buckle down and do a little research. And believe me when I say “do a little research,” because that’s exactly what I did. By no means did I mentally exert myself on this one. But I have been making my own Thousand Island dressing for years, and I strongly prefer it to basically any mainstream brand that can be found in the grocery stores. Not only is it often times healthier to make your own salad dressings at home, (because you can add exactly what you want, avoiding many of the unpronounceable ingredients found in most of the store bought dressings) but they just taste better.

So one version of the story it seems, states that the dressing got its start in the early part of the twentieth century in a small resort village in New York called Clayton. There was a fishing guide named George LaLonde, Jr. who would guide visiting fishermen for Northern Pike and Black Bass throughout the waters of the 1000 Islands. At the end of the day, he and his wife Sophia LaLonde would cook the fish that had been caught that day, and serve it as part of what they called “shore dinners.” And they served these dinners with an unusual salad dressing. May Irwin, a popular New York stage actress was visiting Clayton and had tasted the unusual dressing. She then asked for the recipe which she named Thousand Island. Anyway, that’s one version of how Thousand Island got its name. There is a lot more to the story however, but I’m sure you would rather me spare you all the details. If you really want to read more about it though, here’s a link that offers more details: Salad History. You’ll need to scroll down some to find the section about Thousand Island dressing.

Creamy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

There are many variations of this recipe as well as personal takes to be found on the internet and throughout various cookbooks. Some ingredients used in Thousand Island are finely chopped green olives, pickles, onions, chopped egg and red pepper. The last two ingredients on the list would typically be used in what most people consider to be a chunkier version of thousand island. I have to tell you, I don’t care for green olives at all, so I won’t be using them in the recipe that follows. In fact, I won’t be using most of the ingredients listed above. It may be how classic Thousand Island is made, but I personally don’t care to add chopped up boiled eggs to my salad dressing, especially if I intend to eat a salad such as a chef’s salad that will probably already have boiled egg on it anyway. Anyhow, moving on.

Thousand Island is quite versatile as well. Not only does it make a great dressing for salads, it is also an essential to many other favorites such as the Reuben sandwich and the always popular Big Mac™. Technically I guess special sauce isn’t Thousand Island but it’s close enough in my book. Not only that, but you can easily tweak this recipe and make something like a dipping sauce for your French fries or onion rings. That’s the beauty of it. If you feel that you need to step up the flavor because it doesn’t quite have the kick you want, simply add a little horseradish and some dried oregano and you’re getting close to the dipping sauce that comes with a blooming onion.

So there you go. I hope you enjoy the recipe. If you find the recipe below to be a little too flavorful for your taste, don’t be afraid to add a little extra mayonnaise to tone things down. And be sure to let us know your opinions on this recipe in the comment section.

Now, back to the lab (A.K.A the kitchen) to discover a new secret recipe to share. It might be dressing, it might be dessert, it might be a new take on a classic like the cheeseburger. Who really knows. As long as I don’t start the kitchen on fire, I’m happy.

Creamy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Creamy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

By: Semiserious Chefs
Serves: Varies


  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 1/2 cups mayonnaise/vegenaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sweet relish
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients and whisk until blended smoothly.
  2. That’s it! You’re done!

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