Hearts of Lettuce with Thousand Island Dressing

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a wedge of lettuce with homemade Thousand Island dressing

Hearts of Lettuce with Thousand Island Dressing is a delicious salad with tons of vintage charm.  The homemade Thousand Island Dressing recipe is one you’ll use over and over.

If you were alive and eating solid foods in the 50s, 60s or even the 70s you probably remember hearts of lettuce salads with Thousand Island dressing. We needed a knife to carve our way into those crisp wedges of iceberg lettuce drenched in wonderful chunky pink dressing.  This salad is either hopelessly old fashioned or mid-century chic, depending on your point of view.

What is Thousand Island Dressing?

Thousand Island dressing, named after the Thousand Island region of upstate New York, in the St Lawrence River along the border with Canada, has been around a long time. It was originally used as a sauce for fish, and because the area was popular with wealthy vacationers from big cities to the south, the story goes that it was discovered and put on the menu of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  This dressing would overwhelm the baby lettuces that we all love today, so you need to pair it with something sturdy like iceberg, romaine, or in this case a head of bibb lettuce cut in quarters.

To make Thousand Island dressing you need to start with mayonnaise.  You can use store bought mayo if you want, but I made mine from scratch.  You can read all about the easy process in my How to Make Mayonnaise in 30 Seconds post. There’s even a video if you’re a visual learner!

Authentic mayonnaise is a sauce made with raw eggs, and there is some minimal risk involved in eating them, so I opt for pasteurized eggs.  That just means that the eggs have been specially heated to a temperature that kills any dangerous bacteria, without cooking the eggs, so you use them just the same way you use regular eggs, pretty cool, huh?

Look for them next to the regular eggs next time you grocery shop. They’re great for lots of different recipes that require raw eggs, like meringues,  Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing.

a jar of homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Store your finished dressing in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.  It makes a great dip for raw veggies, too!

This thick rich dressing is so full of flavor, and along with some crumbled bacon completely transforms a wedge of lettuce into a decadent treat.

Ingredient list for homemade Thousand Island dressing

As written, my dressing is on the spicy side, feel free to moderate the heat to your liking.

  • mayo
  • chili sauce
  • ketchup
  • white onion
  • bell pepper
  • relish
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • horseradish
  • Tabasco
  • mustard
  • celery seed
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper

homemade mayonnaise
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4.25 from 4 votes

Hearts of Lettuce with Thousand Island Dressing

Hearts of Lettuce with Thousand Island Dressing is a delicious salad with tons of vintage charm.  The homemade Thousand Island Dressing recipe is one you'll use over and over.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes


  • 1 head of bibb or iceberg lettuce
  • 4 pieces of bacon, cook crisp and crumbled

Thousand Island Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (homemade is best!) Homemade recipe here.
  • 1 Tbsp chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 heaping tablespoon finely minced white onion
  • 1 heaping tablespoon finely minced red bell pepper
  • 1 heaping tablespoon relish (sweet or dill)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish, or horseradish cream
  • Several squirts of Tabasco, to taste (use your favorite hot sauce)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 pinch celery seed
  • 2 pinches paprika
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  • To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together.  Taste as you go to get the exact proportions the way you like them.  Refrigerate the dressing until you are ready to use it.  Make it ahead to give the flavors a chance to develop and mingle.
  • For the salad, take a nice tight head of iceberg or bibb lettuce and cut it in quarters.  Cut out the core and put each wedge on a salad plate and spoon the Thousand Island dressing liberally on top.  Garnish with lots of crumbled bacon.

Thousand Island Dressing pin


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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    5 stars
    Thousand Island dressing has always been one of my favorites, but the bottled stuff is just too sweet and yet tasteless. I’ve made this twice. First time exactly as written and it was awesome. Full of flavor, great consistency, and it lasted two weeks in the fridge. Second time I subbed half the mayo for yogurt, and I didn’t have bell pepper due to our stay-at-home order, so I omitted it. It was still awesome.

    I’m eating more salads thanks to this recipe. That is great, considering we will be hunkered down for many weeks and I need to eat more veggies while social distancing from the gym. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Diana Salyer
    November 7, 2018 at 10:14 am

    How long can the dressing be stored in the refrigerator?

    • Reply
      November 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

      I’d say about a week or 2 Diana.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2018 at 3:19 am

    Hello there! I make mayo by myself too. But i use the whole egg then only the yolks. And it taste and looks like this one with only yolks.

    • Reply
      March 4, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      There are different ways of doing it Michaela, for sure!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I use raw, fresh eggs from our ladies and drizzle the oil in faster than I should bec I’m not patient. Mine has only failed twice in 2 years. When it failed, I emptied my food processer and began a new batch. When I successfully made the second batch, I left the food processer and slowly added the failed batch into the new batch and continued to process it as if there was nothing wrong with it. I added the failed batch to the new batch and then I had a double batch of wonderful, thick, perfect mayo. So, don’t throw away your failed attempts. Just add them into your successful attempts at the end. I prefer making more than one batch at a time anyways since it doesn’t last long here. Thanks, Amanda

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 12:28 am

    I want this right now! It looks so good I’m tempted to jump in the car and go buy everything!! Love your Bonne Maman jar with all that goodness spilling over.

    • Reply
      March 4, 2020 at 6:26 pm

      Love my recycled jars <3

  • Reply
    March 13, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I always make my own mayo and if it separates at the beginning, I add a pinch of salt and keep on mixing. Eventually it will come back together again. I have always used raw egg yolks to make the mayo and have never had a problem.

    • Reply
      March 4, 2020 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks for the tip Rose!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I have some Safest Choice eggs in my fridge right now and I love em! Definitely perfect for making homemade mayo and this fabulous salad!

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    March 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    homemade mayo is one of the things i want to make most! It intimidates me for some reason and I am not easily frightened! After seeing this post I know I now must make it! No matter what! Love

  • Reply
    Hungry Dog
    March 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    This salad looks both refreshing and satisfying–gorgeous as always. I don’t think I’d make the effort to do the mayo from scratch and am impressed that you did!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Yum! What a simple and delicious looking salad. Love the two dressings.

  • Reply
    Lea Ann (Highlands Ranch Foodie)
    March 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I’m loving that recipe for TI dressing. I’ve made my own mayo twice and yes, once a disaster and once a success. At the time I wasn’t sure why. Love that last photo.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    This reminds me of salads served in Northern MN – rich creamy homemade dressings… that jay Thousand Island really appeals. Kudos to making your mayo – I have yet to do that.

  • Reply
    Cathy at Wives with Knives
    March 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    This is old fashioned but it’s hard to find a dressing more delicious. My grandmother used to make 1000 Island and serve it on iceberg wedges and it’s still my favorite.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Yum!! This looks amazing! I live about 45 minutes away from the 1000 Islands but they call what I consider thousand island dressing Russian dressing, which I find funny.
    Also thanks for the info on the eggs, doesn’t look like stores around here carry them, but we are moving south in 2 months and 3 stores around our new place carry them! Can’t wait to try this recipe once we move!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    March 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    It amazes me how you can make a single egg, or small bowl of mayo or a wedge of lettuce look so inticing! You are a gifted cook and photographer. I won’t be able to think about anything all day other than crisp lettuce, salty bacon and creamy dressing! Yum!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    This looks awesome. I haven’t made a thousand island dressing before. Probably because that’s about all we ever had in the house while I was growing up. I wonder if I’m ready to like it again??

    Way to go on the mayo! I actually like mine made with a light flavored olive oil and I’ve never had it solidify on me. (?) Strange. For what it’s worth, I’ve made it in a jar with an immersion blender and it really does work that way as well. WAY easier than the slow drizzle. Or maybe I’m just not patient! Ok, I’d definitely not that patient. Yours looks perfect!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    You photos are breath taking! I can almost taste the goodness.

  • Reply
    A Trifle Rushed
    March 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Sue I love the idea of homemade 1000 island dressing, I always have found brought dressing a little too artificial tasting.
    Your recipe for mayonnaise is great, I make my own using ordinary eggs. Its perfect with seafood and a whole poached salmon. Role on the Easter holidays!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Yum! I’ve been craving an iceberg wedge salad the past few days, so this is perfect!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 11:20 am

    When I was a kid and we ran out of dressing, my dad would tell us to mix together ketchup and mayonnaise. That always seemed to do the trick, haha! Yours looks quite lovely and I love the salad wedge thing.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Thousand island dressing was very popular in the 80’s and 90’s here in Greece and I really loved it. Nowadays, you can only find it in store bought bottles! Thanks for sharing this really tasty sauce. You have a lovely collection of recipes in your blog!