Old-fashioned Thousand Island Dressing Recipe

I’m always on the look-out for good homemade salad dressing recipes. so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Thousand Island Dressing, I had to give it a try.

The Thousand Island Dressing was delightful, though much thinner than the typical modern commercial rendition. This olive oil- and mayonnaise-based dressing had just the right amount of spiciness and a lovely citrous undertone.

The modern version typically contains sweet pickle relish; the hundred-year-old recipe called for sliced chestnuts and olives. The sweet nuttiness of the chestnuts and saltiness of the olives added an appealing newΒ  (old?) dimension to this classic dressing.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book (Lilla Frich, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Thousand Island Dressing

  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 orange

1 teaspoon onion, grated

3 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

8 olives sliced (I used stuffed green olives.)

8 chestnuts, sliced ( I used vacuum-packed, recipe-ready chestnuts.)

Put the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, onion, parsley, mustard, salt, paprika, Worcestershire sauce,Β  and mayonnaise in a medium bowl; and whisk together until smooth. Stir in the olives and chestnuts.

47 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Thousand Island Dressing Recipe

  1. This is great! I never would have thought of chestnuts – or orange for that matter. Were there any leftovers you could bottle and use later? Though I’m not sure how long you would want to keep it…

    1. When I made the dressing, I had some left-over. And, like you, I wondered how long it would keep. I stored it in the refrigerator, and used it all over the course of three days. It kept just fine – though I’d hesitate to keep it for much longer than that.

    1. I want to try this recipe again with fresh chestnuts when it’s Fall in the northern hemisphere. In the U.S., all that I could find this time of year was vacuum-packed chestnuts – though they worked just fine in this recipe.

    1. I agree – Too often I just use bottled dressings that I buy at the store. I’m trying to make more of my own dressings. πŸ™‚

  2. Very interesting. You could have many more dressings veering off from the ingredients presented here. We love thousand Island dressing. The new one because it’s so easy.

    1. Don’t apologize – it’s confusing how there are several types of chestnuts. I used sweet chestnuts – though I usually just call them chestnuts. I couldn’t find any fresh chestnuts this time of the year – but I did find a bag of vacuum-packed, “recipe-ready” chestnuts in the nut section at the store. The first store I went to didn’t carry them, but then I went to another supermarket that carries more specialty products and found them.

  3. I read the old recipe first, then your heading appeared saying it was easy. Easy? Something involving chestnuts was easy? When the list came up, I found your secret of using prepared chestnuts. I had no idea that existed. It was like reading a quick mystery.

    1. I agree – it’s difficult to roast and peel chestnuts. This was the first time that I ever used pre-processed chestnuts. When I saw this recipe I really wanted to make it – and I didn’t want to wait until autumn to try it. I had vague memories of seeing bagged or canned chestnuts at a store –so starting looking for them.

  4. This sounds good! I enjoy doing homemade dressings I found them tastier even if they don’t last as long in the refrigerator.

    1. I was surprised when I found this recipe in a century-old cookbook. Like you, I hadn’t realized that Thousand Island Dressing was so old.

  5. This (modern version) was the first salad dressing I remember and it remained my favorite for years…maybe time to go back to it by trying this delicious sounding recipe.

  6. Wow, that is so different from what we are used to with the chestnuts and olives. It makes you wonder how the recipe evolved to pickle relish.

    1. Wow, I’m amazed that you saw fresh chestnuts in a store at this time of year. I wonder if they’d been stored over the winter or if they were from the southern hemisphere.

  7. Back in the 60s, we made Thousand Island dressing all the time. It was my dad’s favorite. I can’t quite remember all the ingredients, but I know that it involved a mayo base, with finely chopped onion, celery, hard-boiled egg, and dill pickle. It made a lot, and we kept it in quart jars in the fridge. As I recall, it kept for some time — just like opened mayo does, I suppose. Oh, and there was chili sauce in it, too. I’d forgotten how much I liked it. It certainly did dress a wedge of iceberg.

    1. It’s the first time that I’ve ever put chestnuts in a dressing and I was really pleased with how they tasted. I may try using them in some other salads.

  8. This looks like a winner, Sheryl. Growing up, I would NOT eat salad. My mom ended up with the strangest concoction ever, and I ate it: iceberg lettuce, sliced banana, and “poor man’s” thousand island dressing (ketchup & mayo). I learned how to eat (and love) salads as an adult, switched to vinaigrette, and never looked back. So, I think it’s safe to try this πŸ™‚

    1. I love it. The lettuce and banana salad with “poor man’s thousand island dressing sounds like something I would have liked as a kid. It’s amazing how our food preferences change across the years.

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