Authentic Thousand Island Dressing is a tangy, sweet, creamy concoction of fresh ingredients, including onions, sweet pepper, and even a hard-boiled egg! It takes minutes to put together, and once you try this homemade version, you’ll never want store-bought again.
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Every year, Mr B and I celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a big, extravagant corned beef dinner, which naturally leads to a brief post-holiday celebration that we like to refer to as Reuben Week.
Hey, Renée, you know that Corned Beef and Cabbage isn’t really Irish, don’t you?
~ My Little Sister
True. Technically, my little sister is correct.
Corned beef and cabbage is not Irish-Irish: it is Irish-American. It is a dish that emerged as newly immigrated Irish-Americans, influenced by both poverty and their equally impoverished Jewish neighbors, transformed their traditional pork and potato dish into what we in the US now think as the quintessential St Patrick’s Day meal.
So, just as I claim my place among the descendants of those early Irish-Americans; likewise, I am claiming corned beef and cabbage as one of my immigrant foremothers’ traditional meals.
Which makes the Rueben sandwich – piled high with leftover corned beef and slathered with homemade Thousand Island Dressing – the obvious and official Irish-American post-St Patrick’s Day sandwich. ☘️
A Good, Authentic Thousand Island Dressing is Key
A good Thousand Island Dressing is key to creating the perfect Reuben sandwich (or an amazing Shrimp Louie).
NOTE: Some people use Russian Dressing on their Rueben sandwiches. We are not “some people.”
Let’s talk about that a little more about what goes into an authentic Thousand Island recipe, shall we?
You may think you know what makes up real Thousand Island, but my guess is you may be wrong. Yes, you can throw together a passable “special sauce” with mayo, ketchup a splash of mustard and little sweet pickle relish, and you can call it whatever you want – but it isn’t genuine Thousand Island Dressing.
How to Make Authentic Thousand Island Dressing
Authentic Thousand Island Dressing is a tangy, sweet, creamy concoction of fresh ingredients, including onions, sweet pepper, and even a hard-boiled egg!
Homemade Thousand Island takes minutes to put together, and once you try this homemade version, you’ll never want store-bought again.
Authentic Thousand Island Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise I use homemade
- 1 hard-boiled egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1 ounce Bread & Butter pickle slices or 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet red pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- Pinch of cloves
- Dash Sriracha or Tabasco
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar
- Salt to taste
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
- Ground cloves are one of those things where a little goes a long way. I use home-canned bread-and-butter pickles that already have cloves in them, so I generally don't add any additional.
- Some like their Thousand Island very sweet, while others prefer it a little more tangy. You can fine-tune the flavor to meet you needs by adjusting the sugar, salt and vinegar a bit.
- Some like to throw a couple of olives into their Thousand Island. I'm personally not a fan, because I think it makes the dressing too salty.
- I like a dressing that actually pours, so I usually add a little water at the very end to get the desire consistency.
More Delicious Homemade Salad Dressings from GHW
Making your own salad dressing is fast, easy, economical; and best of all, you’ll be able to identify and pronounce all the ingredients!
- Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
- Piña Colada Salad Dressing
- Original Taco House Fiesta Dressing (Taco Salad Dressing)
The Perplexing History of 1000 Island Dressing
The history of 1000 Island Dressing dates back to the early days of the 20th century, and centers in the small resort village of Clayton, New York. Almost from the beginning, the story is a muddled mess of players all claiming credit, so the story you hear depends on who you ask. After sifting through a number of sources, this is my best guess:
It seems that there was a fishing guide named George LaLonde, Jr. who led fishing expeditions through the waters of the 1000 Islands, located along the border between northern New York State and southeastern Ontario, Canada. After a day of fishing, George and his wife, Sophia, would serve their guests what they called “shore dinners,” often complemented with an unusual salad dressing.
On one particular occasion, George was guiding a prominent New York City stage actress named May Irwin and her husband. In addition to acting, May Irwin was a renowned cook and cookbook authoress, and was particularly impressed with the dressing she and her husband were served at their shore dinner, so she asked George for the recipe. Sophia, who created the dressing, was flattered by the request and willingly gave her the recipe.
Upon her return to New York City, May Irwin gave the recipe to George C. Boldt, owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Impressed with the dressing and its flavor, Mr. Boldt directed his world famous maitre d’hotel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the hotel’s menu, and the rest is history.
If you want to do your own detective work, here are a few sources to get you started:
- Three versions of the origin of Thousand Island dressing
- The Special Sauce of the Thousand Islands
- A mystery with flavor: Film-makers explore the origins of Thousand Island Dressing