Quick Homemade Russian Dressing

Russian Dressing Sauce

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This tangy and slightly spicy homemade Russian Dressing is the perfect sauce for a seriously delicious Reuben sandwich.

The sauce also goes great with home smoked pastrami, burgers or sandwiches.

You get a little bit of heat from the horseradish and hot sauce, but you can easily tone it down if you don’t like spice.

The difference between Russian Dressing and Thousand Island Dressing

You often see Russian dressing replaced with Thousand Island dressing. But what is the actual difference between these two similar types of dressing?

The main difference is that Russian dressing is more spicy and less sweet than Thousand Island.

Russian dressing:

  • The horseradish, onion or garlic and hot sauce gives Russian dressing its distinct spiciness
  • Typically includes mayonnaise and ketchup
  • People who prefer bold, spicy and tangy flavors will typically prefer Russian dressing.

Thousand Island dressing:

  • Typically made from hard-cooked egg, lemon or orange juice
  • Contains sweet pickle relish
  • More mild and sweet taste
  • Very close in taste to the special sauce used on McDonald’s Big Mac

Despite it’s name, Russian dressing was almost certainly created in America.

No one knows exactly where the name comes from. Some say that original recipes used caviar, but this is highly debatable.

There’s no doubt that Thousand Island dressing wins the popularity contest with consumers.

I think that’s a shame because Russian dressing has a much more interesting flavor.

What sauce should you use for a Reuben sandwich?

The classic Reuben sandwich is made with rye bread, Pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.

Reuben sandwich with homemade smoked pastrami

These days you will see Russian dressing and Thousand Island dressing both used interchangeably.

But if you want to make an authentic Reuben, you should use Russian dressing.

Some restaurants and dalis actually use Russian dressing, but label it Thousand Island to avoid confusing the customers.

Russian dressing is hard to find on the supermarket shelves, luckily it’s super simple to make your own!

Russian Dressing Sauce

Russian Dressing

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Author: Joe Clements


  • 1 Tbsp Finely chopped onion
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • ¼ Cup Ketchup
  • 4 Tsp Horseradish From a jar
  • 1 Tsp Hot sauce
  • 1 Tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 Tsp Sweet paprika
  • Salt


  • If you have a mortar and pestle, mash the chopped onion until it forms a paste. You can also use a heavy knife to mince and mash the onion.
  • Add the onion paste to a small bowel and add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Whisk together until every ingredient is mixed in then season with the salt.
  • This dressing will last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

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One Response

  1. 5 stars
    The Rachel is a relative of the Reuben. Rachel is made with turkey instead of pastrami and slaw rather than sauerkraut. Other than that, everything else is the same. I needed a good Russian dressing recipe to go with our Rachel sandwiches and this one hit the spot! Family loved it!

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