Fermenty, Paleo-friendly Thousand Island Dressing


For starters, I made a Pho-spice Reuben sandwich and all the components were made from scratch, except the bread and swiss cheese. Although Russian dressing is the traditional spread on a Reuben, Thousand Island is also a popular substitute. So, I made both types of dressing, and I thought they were both absolutely delicious, not just in the sandwich but on salads and as a chicken marinade.

I would describe the way I prepared both dressings as “fermenty” because not all the components are fermented. I don’t ferment mayo. Although the thought has crossed my mind, and you can find fermented mayo recipes online, fermenting oils and eggs together can be a botulism risk. The risk of botulism in general is very low, but I figure why take the chance when you can still have a super delicious dressing with fermented components like pho-spiced ketchup, pho pickles, and even the onions if you like.

You may not have known that before it became a mass-produced unhealthy sauce, Thousand Island was a luxury dressing and it had finely minced or grated hard-boiled egg in it. It really adds to the flavor and consistency. I just used a regular hard-boiled egg, but I could see pickled eggs being a nice touch. I don’t recommend fermenting eggs although again there are ways and traditions of doing so.

Like my Russian dressing recipe, instead of using homemade or fermented components, it’s also fine to use pre-made store brands such as good old Heinz and Hellman’s for your ketchup and mayo. But I love things made from scratch using simple, Paleo ingredients (organic and free of refined sugars).

If you want to make a sugar-free Paleo mayo using a healthy oil, check out my recipe here. My pho-spiced ketchup recipe gives instructions for how to ferment it, which is optional (it’s delicious either way).

You may be wondering if you mix mayo with fermented stuff like ketchup, whether the risk of botulism persists, but the answer is not if you’re storing it in the fridge. The acidity of the ketchup (especially if fermented), combined with the cold refrigerator temps, makes botulism germination in the fridge virtually impossible.

I’ve had this dressing up to three weeks without signs of deterioration but I’d caution against going longer.

So now that that scary thought has been addressed, let’s get to it! This recipe will fill a 16 oz. jar.

You will need:

  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Grater or knife/cutting board
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Storage container (recommended: 16 oz. jar)


  • 1 cup mayonnaise (can be homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (can be my fermented pho-spiced version, or any ketchup of choice)
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, grated or finely minced
  • 3 TBSP minced pickles (I used my fermented pho pickles but any pickle may be used; my Bread & Butter vinegar pickles are also a great choice!)
  • 1 TBSP finely minced onion (can be fermented)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Salt to taste (~1/4 tsp)
  • Black pepper to taste (~1/4 tsp)


1.) Mince and prepare the ingredients as described above.

2.) Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste as desired. Transfer to storage container and refrigerate overnight for the flavors to meld.

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