Kraft, Lady’s Choice, American Garden, and More: 6 Brands of Thousand Island DressingMarch 26, 2019
A salad-bar mainstay that also serves as a versatile dip, spread, or all-around condiment, Thousand Island dressing is a mayonnaise-based number well-loved across the globe. Named after the island in New York of the same name where it was first prepared, it gets its signature sweet-tangy-creamy character from a blend of ingredients that may include mayonnaise, tomato purée or ketchup, pickle relish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, chopped hard-boiled eggs, aromatics like onion and garlic, and more. Most local supermarkets will house at least a couple of brands, both local and foreign, and each brand goes for its own signature blend. How do they compare?
American Garden’s dressing goes for a brown-to-beige leaning dressing that’s on the thick side but flows easily out the bottle. Though creamy in consistency, it takes us aback with its very sour, pickle-dominant profile, marked by the visible pickle relish bits dispersed throughout. This works to its advantage when used for salads (you don’t have to add too much for the flavor to come through), but it can be overpowering if you’re having it as a dip. Mildly sweet with a tomato-y tinge, there’s a hint of garlic for pungency; and though it tends to be overpowered by the acidity of the vinegar, it lets the flavors transition into its rich, oily finish.
Sweetness: 3.5/5 | Acidity: 5/5 | Thickness: 3/5
Clara Ole gives you a pink-leaning version with an odd goopiness that reminds us less of dressing and more of fake pancake syrup, albeit with an oiliness toward the end. It’s the sweetest of the bunch—so much so that it feels less like salad dressing and more like a slightly tart and mayo-y dessert sauce. Yick. What especially puts us off is the odd, tinny aftertaste that lingers in the mouth; though if anything, it makes for a decent sub for the sweet ketchup-mayo dip that’s classically paired with street-side dynamite lumpia or Filipino-style cheese sticks.
Sweetness: 5/5 | Acidity: 2.5/5 | Thickness: 2.5/5
This local veggie farm’s version is notably on the runnier side and tends to slide off when used as a dip, but performs fine when mixed right into a salad. On the peachy side color-wise, it’s creamy without feeling too oily. It goes for a mostly sweet profile that we wish had more tang, but brings forward a subtle garlic-y pungency in the backdrop that, coupled with a peppery zip, that keeps the resulting dressing from being saccharine.
Sweetness: 3.5/5 | Acidity: 2/5 | Thickness: 2/5
Kraft’s salmon-colored take is on the thicker end of the spectrum but is nonetheless runny enough to pour easily from the bottle. It has the creamy, silky feel of real mayonnaise which likewise translates over to flavor, first giving you the yolk-y, mayo-y taste before proceeding to the other flavors: a balanced mix of sweetness, garlicky umami (oddly enough there is no garlic in the ingredients), and ample tanginess that does not overpower.
Sweetness: 3/5 | Acidity: 3.5/5 | Thickness: 3.5/5
Lady’s Choice’s salmon-y beige colored take is the thickest of the bunch—it’s the kind that holds its shape on a spoon, making it easy to use for dipping or spreading onto sandwiches. It’s slick and glossy the way mayo is, with bits of pickle relish in the mix. Though sweetness is what predominates in the balance of flavors, as a whole, it does not overpower. Pickle-y with a garlicky hum, there’s an milkiness to the finish which strikes us as odd, but isn’t very noticeable once mixed into other dishes.
Sweetness: 3.5/5 | Acidity: 3/5 | Thickness: 4/5
Wishbone’s dressing goes by a more beige, mustard-y tone that it almost resembles caesar dressing at first glance. Tomato-y and pickle-y in aroma, this brand stands out with a loosely umami note in the backdrop that initially reminded us of parmigiano reggiano (though it’s not listed in the ingredients), and a stronger garlicky, onion-y note that adds depth. Similar to Kraft with its just-right thickness, it balances sweet and tangy with a finish that’s a tad oily for our tastes, but gives it a great advantage for enriching lean, crisp veggies like cucumbers or lettuce.
Sweetness: 3/5 | Acidity: 3/5 | Thickness: 3.5/5
The Verdict: Kraft
Kraft’s way of delivering both in the flavor punch department (with its balance of sweet, tangy notes) and just the right amount of richness makes it the winning dressing in our book. Wishbone’s also stands out however, with its noteworthy umami profile, as does Lady’s Choice with its mayo-y richness and thick consistency.