This Homemade Thousand Island Dressing recipe comes together in 5 minutes with just 5 ingredients! It’s thick, delicious, and perfect on your next salad.

Thousand Island Dressing is so easy to make, you no longer have an excuse to buy it at the store.

In fact, just 2 days ago I meant to buy it but forgot. I remembered in the parking lot, but I realized it would be easier to just go home and make it rather than wander through the store again and buy it.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing being poured onto lettuce in a white bowl.

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Some salad dressings require specialized ingredients that go bad fast. AKA, buttermilk or blue cheese. But Thousand Island Dressing can be made with the most fundamental pantry ingredients known to home cooks everywhere.

And just 5 of them at that.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing in a white bowl.

I like Thousand Island on a bed of romaine. Or, if I’m feeling wild, iceberg lettuce. (Yes, I have already heard that iceberg has no nutritional value. I was just trying to get you riled up.)

I also like it in Reuben Dip and on Reuben Sandwiches and on burgers. Hello, Special Sauce.

Reuben dip in in a blue skillet with some being scooped out on a cracker.

During my recipe testing, I discovered that some recipes use ketchup and some use chili sauce. I prefer the taste of ketchup, but chili sauce seems to be a popular ingredient.

So, try whichever one sounds better to you, or use some of each, or use whichever you have on hand.

It’s Thousand Island Dressing, There are no bad endings here.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing being poured onto lettuce in a white bowl.

Thousand Island Dressing

This Homemade Thousand Island Dressing recipe comes together in 5 minutes with just 5 ingredients! It's thick, delicious, and perfect on your next salad.
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 1 min
Total Time 2 mins
Servings 12 servings (2 tablespoons each)
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 136


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup bread and butter pickles finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or chili sauce (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Salt optional


  • In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until combined and smooth. Add salt to taste if desired (I like ½ teaspoon). Use immediately or refrigerate up to 4 days.


You can use either ketchup or chili sauce in this recipe. I prefer it with ketchup, but many "popular" recipes use chili sauce. Use whatever you like better or, more importantly, have on hand.


Calories: 136kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 179mgPotassium: 25mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 62IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

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    1. Hi Betty, I have never heard of this. But it sounds AMAZING! I’ll see if I can dig anything up on it. Thanks for the question!

  1. You know, we could just make enough for the salad and not have to worry about shelf life? I got really good at single serving sized dressings with some practice…

    1. Yes Chemen! There’s actually a serving slider on the recipe card so you can drag it to 1 serving and it will do all the math conversions for you on ingredients. So that’s a really good idea! :D

    2. Meggan’s recipe really got me started on small batch dressing. For quick cole slaw dressing, a bit of mayo and sour cream, cider vinegar and sugar. Bingo. No bottle to deal with.

  2. It’s a great base. I’ve been mixing in sour cream and chipotle in adobo sauce(Embassa brand) for taco salad.

  3. I’m not one to usually comment when I’ve altered a recipe, however the basics are from your recipe and I’m thrilled!  Somehow I didn’t have fresh garlic or lemon juice and I wanted to try this NOW…  so I used apple cider vinegar and dried garlic… I decided to throw in some dried onion flakes as well and I’m very pleased!! I did use sugar free pickles and ketchup, but with our lifestyle, wouldn’t be noticeable whatsoever!! Beautiful addition to our week of lunches, thank you!!! 5 stars

  4. Hi Meggan!  Just a quick update that I tried your sauce tonight and oh my goodness!  It absolutely made the cheeseburgers!  I never would have thought to try lemon juice, but it was exactly the ingredient (that acid touch!) that made this sing.  Didn’t have garlic but will try that next time– still delicious without it, so I can only imagine what it would be with it.  I used chile sauce and sweet pickle relish as that is what I had, left out the salt (due to dietary considerations–there was salt in my burger marinade), but those were small differences and it was still such a winner.  Next time will try the ketchup and garlic just to see, but either way, this is most definitely a winner. Thanks so much!  5 stars

  5. To answer the question about how long this sauce will last, it’s the fresh garlic that would be of the greatest concern, as it can actually become toxic after a few days.  Using garlic powder as a sub would take care of that risk.  The lemon juice is also something I’d be a bit leary about– any fresh citrus juice is really only good for a couple of days as well. I imagine using another more stable acid, like white or apple cider vinegar, might remove that as a risk, but since it’s such a simple recipe it seems easy enough to mix this in small quantities that I’ll use up quickly. Thanks for doing the homework on this recipe, Meggan.  Trying it with burgers tonight!

    1. Thank you, Marcia! And yes to garlic/botulism. I appreciate your insights on this. I didn’t realize something like white vinegar would be more stable than lemon juice, but now that you say it, it sounds os obvious. So grateful for your knowledge on this subject!

  6. I like this recipe. Tired of buying a bottle and then just throw it out. Tonight I made a creamy garlic recipe I got from Allrecipes. This thousand island recipe covers the base flavors which is what I was looking for. Thanks Meggan.

    1. That’s so nice David, thank you! You made my day. Glad you enjoyed it. Take care! :)

  7. Sorry for being a jerk-face. I reread my comment and I was out of line. I think that would last quite a bit longer than 4 days is all, probably months, being that the ingredients are packaged and not fresh. If the ingredients were homemade the life would be shortened for sure.

    1. Totally fine, it’s all good. I would agree with you if the garlic and lemon juice weren’t fresh, but they are so that might complicate things. I’ve had this for a week in my fridge and separation occurs at that point. It started to look really watery. I never went back and tried to fix it or assess it and I cannot say for sure whether it was dangerous (probably not) or just unappetizing (to me, yes).

  8. Why refrigerate for “up to 4 days?” Did you pull that number out of your ass? You’re taking ingredients with an incredible shelf life and giving them 4 days. Dumb.

    1. Thanks, Nick. Geez. I’m going by the guidelines for leftovers from the National Restaurant Association and the CDC. Didn’t pull the number out of my ass. Once you mix all that stuff together without preservatives, it doesn’t exactly last forever. But please, show me your Food Safety Manager Certification and tell me I’m wrong.

    2. I was really taken aback as well when I first read this comment, but very pleased to see that Nick apologized further down.  Way too many people don’t do that when they’ve been called out on a mistake– and doing it publicly is even rarer– so I’m letting Nick off the hook on this one.  

      You handled the situation very well yourself, Meggan. 

    3. That’s nice of you to say, Marcia. Although, I probably shouldn’t have said as much as I did. I could have communicated the information without the attitude. I just don’t get many negative comments on my blog (because hey! It’s just a food blog!) so I think I was surprised more than anything. But yes, he apologized, and it’s all good. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.