Salad Dressings

Easy Thousand Island Dressing (Vegan-Friendly)

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Ranked in the top 10 most popular salad dressings year after year, Thousand Island is a common sight on grocery store shelves across the United States. Here at That Salad Lady, we love its unique versatility and all the savory goodness it brings to the salad bowl. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a fan of Thousand Island dressing too. Or perhaps you’re wondering why we’re even talking about such a rich and indulgent salad staple on this site.

Traditionally based in mayonnaise and high in fat and calories you’ll likely never find Thousand Island on a list of healthy food choices. But this doesn’t necessarily make it a poor food choice. As with most foods, we believe dressings in general are what you make of them. A fun and flavorful spin on the classic blend, our quick and easy Thousand Island dressing recipe includes a list of simple, quality ingredients you’ll actually feel good about using.

THE BALANCING ACT

Often referred to as a “special sauce” in American restaurants and food chains, Thousand Island is indeed one of a kind. It gets its name from the Thousand Islands region, which includes a chain of small islands spanning upstate New York and Canada. Despite its widespread popularity, Thousand Island has long had a bad rap in the nutrition department. This is mainly due to its core ingredients, which not only include mayonnaise but also ketchup. 

The good news is that neither mayonnaise nor ketchup are inherently “bad.” No, really, they’re not. It’s really all about being mindful of your portions and choosing quality products. Truth is, many store-bought varieties on the market are made with subpar ingredients and tend to pack in lots of sugar, sodium and preservatives. This is the stuff that lowers their overall nutritional value and the value of anything you add them to.

To make it easier for you to control what goes in your dressing, our recipe includes specific suggestions for choosing quality mayo and ketchup. We include some vegan choices too.

Combined with sweet pickle relish and a savory mix of herbs and spices, it delivers the classic creamy taste and texture Thousand Island dressing is known for. If you’re a fan of Thousand Island, this’ll definitely be your go-to recipe. It’s naturally gluten-free and, with just a few tweaks, can be easily adapted to suit vegan and low-carb diets. All you’ll need is a blender or food processor and it’s on your favorite salad (or sandwich) in five minutes!

Let’s talk more about what’s in our quick and easy Thousand Island dressing recipe and why.

Good Quality Mayo for Creamy, Authentic Flavor

Keeping with tradition, our Thousand Island recipe is based with pure, unadulterated mayonnaise. Though long viewed as a dietary devil, the biggest argument against mayo is actually its fat content. But at That Salad Lady, we’re big fans of fat. Fat helps our bodies absorb a lot of the vitamins and antioxidants housed in veggies, fruits and other plant-based foods. It also supports hormonal balance and healthy cholesterol levels.

So, you can rest assured knowing that there’s nothing wrong with consuming moderate amounts of fat. This includes mayo if you choose to enjoy it. Simply choose a good quality mayo made with good quality fats (avocado, olive and sunflower oils) and always be mindful of your portions.

For genuinely good mayo, you can’t go wrong with Primal Kitchen Mayo with Avocado Oil or Sir Kensington’s Organic Mayonnaise. Both are made with high-quality ingredients, rich in monounsaturated fats and suitable for most low-carb diets. Primal Kitchen Vegan Mayo with Avocado Oil and Sir Kensington’s Classic Vegan Mayo are excellent choices for vegan eaters and they’re low in carbs as well.

You’re certainly not limited to these options. There are many other quality brands on the market so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what you like. Just make a practice of reading the ingredients list on the product packaging of any mayo brand you choose and steer away from those made with subpar fats (soybean and corn oil), added sugars (corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup) and generally unfamiliar additives, preservatives and chemicals.

Some Ketchup with a Little Room for Relish

With a craveable combo of good old-fashioned ketchup and sweet pickle relish our recipe delivers that signature hint of sweetness Thousand Island fans know and love. It’s no mystery that it can moonlight as a sandwich sauce too – Hello Reuben! But, as with mayo, we suggest choosing your ketchup as well as your relish wisely. Though both are relatively low in total fat and calories, many popular brands contain added sugars and preservatives.

When choosing these condiments, it’s usually best to go with unsweetened varieties. Luckily, most grocery store shelves are packed with plenty of products that fit the bill. Primal Kitchen Organic and Unsweetened Ketchup is one of our founder, Nina’s, personal favorites. With just two grams of net carbs per serving, it’s the perfect choice for carb watchers. It’s also very low in sodium (about 5% of the recommended daily dose), which is a win-win.

Herbs, Spices and Such for Rich Savory Goodness

Owing to a delightful mix of herbs and spices including fresh onion and garlic, chives, chili powder and sweet paprika, our Thousand Island dressing recipe packs plenty of pleasant savory flavor. There’s also a bit of apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper sauce included for nice hints of heat and tang. Combined with the rich, creamy and perfectly sweet trio of mayo, ketchup and relish, these layers build robust, downright craveworthy goodness. 

START MIXING

To make the dressing, all you’ll need to do is gather and mix the ingredients to your desired consistency. Yes, it’s that simple. If you have a blender or a food processor, start by simply adding everything to your pitcher or work bowl. With variable speed units, start with a low speed. From there, you can gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.

If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, no sweat! Simply pre-mince your garlic and onion with a sharp knife, combine them with the rest of the ingredients and whisk everything together in a bowl.

The Versatility of Thousand Island Dressing

That Salad Lady’s authentically rich, creamy and perfectly sweet Thousand Island dressing recipe makes about eight flavor-packed servings (two tablespoons per serving). As with any other Thousand Island blend, you can use it as a savory dressing for your favorite salad bowl recipes. Try it on our “Hearty Kale Cobb Salad” as a start. In addition to salads, you can also use it as a spread for burgers and sandwiches or even as a dipping sauce for proteins and veggies.

We recommend transferring any leftover dressing to an airtight sealed container and then storing it in the fridge. It’ll last for up to five days.  

SHOW US YOUR WORK

That Salad Lady wants to see all your great work. If you enjoy this easy Thousand Island dressing recipe, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.

Easy Thousand Island Dressing (Vegan-Friendly)

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by That Salad Lady Course: DressingCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

8

servings
Prep Time

5

minutes
Calories

80

kcal
Total Time

5

minutes

This authentically rich, creamy and perfectly sweet Thousand Island dressing recipe delivers restaurant-quality flavor in just five minutes!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup quality mayonnaise, regular or plant-based*

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened ketchup**

  • 3-4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish***

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons onion, yellow or white, chopped or finely minced

  • 1 garlic clove, whole or minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried chives

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, more or less to taste****

  • 2-3 drops Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce, optional*****

Directions

  • If you have a blender or a food processor, gather all the ingredients and add them to your pitcher or work bowl.
  • With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
  • If you don’t have a blender or a food processor simply pre-mince your garlic and onion with a sharp knife, combine them with the rest of the ingredients and whisk everything together in a bowl.
  • In addition to using Thousand Island as a salad dressing you can also use it as a spread for burgers and sandwiches or even as a dipping sauce for proteins and veggies.
  • Transfer any leftover dressing to an airtight sealed container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • *For genuinely good mayo, you can’t go wrong with Primal Kitchen Mayo with Avocado Oil or Sir Kensington’s Organic Mayonnaise. Both are made with high-quality ingredients, rich in monounsaturated fats and suitable for most low-carb diets. Primal Kitchen Vegan Mayo with Avocado Oil and Sir Kensington’s Classic Vegan Mayo are excellent choices for vegan eaters and they’re low in carbs as well. There are many other quality brands on the market so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what you like.
  • **Primal Kitchen Organic and Unsweetened Ketchup is one of That Salad Lady’s favorite ketchup brands. With just two grams of net carbs per serving, it’s the perfect choice for carb watchers. It’s also very low in sodium (about 5% of the recommended daily dose).
  • ***Like ketchup, we suggest going with sweet pickle relish that’s free of added sugars. You can go with organic relish too if you can spring for it.
  • ****Whether you use kosher or sea salt, we suggest slowly sprinkling it in as too much will overpower your dressing.
  • *****Though relatively high in sodium, Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce is one of the best brands on the market, as it’s made only with cayenne peppers, vinegar and other natural ingredients. However, if you have another hot sauce brand you like, feel free to use it instead. 

This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.

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