Thousand Island Dressing & an Act of Desperation

by Lynne on November 10, 2010

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Thousand Island Dressing 1

Last Sunday I was going to the grocery store, so I asked my husband if there was anything he wanted me to get for him while I was there. Yes, he said, get me some Thousand Island Dressing, the one that sits upside down on its cap. He couldn’t remember the brand. So I found the one he was talking about and brought it home. It sat on the counter and the more I looked at it, I realized I hadn’t eaten Thousand Island Dressing for about thirty years. However, I did have fond memories about it, especially the black pepper sprinkled on top, so I thought maybe I would have some the next day.

Monday at work, I continued to think about that salad I was going to make, and by the time I was driving home, I was really looking forward to it. I went to the market and bought a nice big, fresh head of iceberg lettuce, one of those heads that feel solid and you know will be crisp and sweet.

When I got home I got out my salad bowl and chef’s knife. I ground some fresh black pepper. I unwrapped the head of lettuce. I looked over on the counter expecting to see the Thousand Island Dressing bottle, but it wasn’t there. I looked in the refrigerator, thinking he might have used some and put it in there. No sign. I looked in all the cupboards. I looked in the garage. I felt a little panicky. Maybe I was having a Senior Moment and had just missed it. It had to be around here somewhere.

So I called up my husband and asked where he’d put the Thousand Island Dressing. Oh, he said, I brought that to work with me so I can put it on my salads for lunch. Cr*p! Foot stomping. Teeth gnashing.

Thousand Island Dressing 2

The Act of Desperation

Well, I stood there with this profound feeling of disappointment. I was so looking forward to that salad. I wanted it bad. And then it came to me that, guess what, I am a chef. I know how to cook and make things from scratch. It was a Eureka Moment. By golly, I would make my own Thousand Island Dressing and never have to depend on some huge corporate entity for my dressing fix again. So there, you guys.

I went online and looked at about 30 recipes for Thousand Island Dressing. I checked a few of my cookbooks. They were all similar. I checked my fridge and, lo and behold, I had all the ingredients. So I recorded the amounts I used as I made it and it was indescribably delicious. So much better than any bottled or restaurant memories of mine. And I hope you enjoy it, too.

Thousand Island Dressing 3

Print Recipe Print Recipe

Thousand Island Dressing by Lynne

Yields 1 ½ cups

1 cup mayonnaise (Best or Hellmans)
¼ cup ketchup (Heinz)
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (Heinz)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Thai sweet chili sauce or 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk or more for consistency
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Optional: one hardboiled egg chopped fine

Freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling over salad

1. Mix all ingredients together, except black pepper, in a bowl. Store in airtight container.

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November 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Nuts about food November 10, 2010 at 1:38 am

This post got me thinking about two things: 1) it is true, there are just things one assumes have to be bought in a store…to then only discover they are simple to make and so much better home made (anything from bechamel to ketchup etc.) 2) in Italy we only dress salads with olive oil, lemon/vinegar and salt and pepper, not even a mustard based vinaigrette is used…forget all those dressings you get in the States. Never really thought about it.

Vivienne November 10, 2010 at 2:50 am

i love it when you realise the things you normally buy in a bottle/can/box can actually be homemade….with much better ingredients as well 🙂
this salad looks so simple and delicious…

Scotty November 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

Great recipe, thanks!

I, too, am not overly interested in the corporate versions of household condiments. The reason mostly, is because I tend to avoid added sugar wherever possible; yet white sugar & corn syrup are in just about everything. Even most varieties of canned diced tomatoes contain sugar nowadays.

Nancy@acommunaltable November 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Hey Lynne,

I laughed out loud at this post.. have had similar “episodes” with my husband!! When I was growing up, we always had Thousand Island on shrimp salads – which were reserved for those days when it was simply too hot to cook!!

Your version has more in it than the one I made growing up and I bet it beats mine so guess what? Your recipe will now be my official “Thousand Island dressing”!!!
Can’t wait to whip up a batch!!

Michael / South Bay Foodies November 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I’m printing this and putting it next to my home made mayo recipe. wait a sec, can I use home made mayo in this recipe for extra tasty goodness!?

Lentil Breakdown November 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Ha ha. Well I haven’t had it in about ** years either, and that was our main dressing growing up. Kraft, Wishbone, or one of those greedy corporate types. I figured it was mayo, ketchup and relish, but I had no idea what else was in it. Kudos to you for making your own and for deconstructing it for me!

Monet November 10, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I too have fond memories of Thousand Island Dressing. My older sister loved the stuff, and we would always pour it on our salads when we went to visit her. I love making salad dressing at home…it always tastes so much better. Thank you for sharing. I hope your day is full of a lot laughter and joy!

Amy (Sing For Your Supper) November 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Wow, this looks really delicious! My husband actually likes Thousand Island dressing on his burgers, so I think I’ll have to try this!!

polwig November 12, 2010 at 7:27 am

I haven’t had TI dressing in forever also at least 10 years…. thank you for reminding me to make it sometime soon.

sippitysup November 12, 2010 at 8:52 am

I loved this story. The power of food is amazing and I am glad you saw the big picture and whipped up your own. GREG

Gisele aka LA2LAChef November 14, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Yes! we used to make it from the Joy of Cooking when I was a teenager. I used to love it with Chef’s Salad- another retro, but wonderful, dish. When I first moved to New York City in the mid-70’s, I served (and enjoyed myself) many a Chef’s Salad with 1000 Island dressing as a young waitress.

Louise November 15, 2010 at 5:32 pm

so funny… desperation= creativity- i know what you mean, when you get something in your head and you REALLY want it. gorgeous photos, salad is hard to shoot.

My Man's Belly November 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration…or a husband that just happens to mess with your best laid plans 😉

Grapefruit November 28, 2010 at 11:06 pm

So enjoyed this post! And I have to agree that anything one makes from scratch is always so much better!

Erika November 30, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I’m laughing too. Interesting, because I always make Thousand Island dressing at home, with equal parts (more or less) of mayo, ketchup and pickle relish. And then I stop there. I bet yours is better than mine!

Kim December 28, 2010 at 9:55 am

Way to make the best out of a sitation! Very much an Iron Chef moment on your part. 🙂

Thousand Island is my brother’s favorite dressing – wonder if he could tell the difference if I made this for him???


Michael / South Bay Foodies April 13, 2011 at 11:24 am

Saw this featured in the latest Easy Reader. Congrats!

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