The Difference Between Russian Dressing and Thousand Island

Salad dressings spice up a leafy salad.
Salad dressings spice up a leafy salad. (Image: Lew Robertson/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Savory salad dressings are a cheap and easy way to inject life into an otherwise plain dish. Salad dressings come in two kinds: the creamy mayonnaise type or the thin vinaigrette type. Homemade dressings are simple to make and can be made in bulk and then stored in the fridge. The two most popular salad dressings are Russian dressing and Thousand Island dressing.

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Despite its name, Russian dressing originated in the United States. It is thought to have been invented in the late 1800s and its ingredients typically included caviar. The modern Russian dressing is less extravagant but is still a firm favorite among salad lovers. Thousand Island is a variant of Russian dressing; the recipe for it was first published in a cookbook in 1900.


A typical Russian dressing has a base of yogurt, mayonnaise or ketchup. Additional spices may be added to alter the flavor, as well as horseradish, pimentos or chives. Thousand Island dressing has a similar mayonnaise base; however, additional ingredients include finely chopped vegetables such as pickles, onions and green olives. The biggest difference between the two dressings is that Thousand Island dressings often include a finely chopped hard-boiled egg.


Both types of dressing are used in sandwiches and salads; however, Thousand Island is also commonly used as a hamburger sauce condiment. Russian dressing is often the main condiment on Reuben sandwiches.


  • "Salad Dressings 101"; Nathan Hyam; 2005
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