What’s A Good Russian Dressing Substitute?

Russian dressing is a classic salad dressing that is used on more than just salads. It makes a great sandwich topping as well. If you are out of this dressing and don’t want to go to the store to buy more, you have quite a long list of alternatives. Here are some of the best Russian dressing substitutes.

Your best bet: Make your own Russian dressing

There are two kinds of Russian dressing: the kind with mayonnaise and the kind without it. Both are relatively straightforward and simple to make at home.

Most recipes found online and in cookbooks will effectively replicate the flavor of the bottled Russian dressings sold in grocery stores. Both kinds have some of the same ingredients, which include ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Horseradish is an optional ingredient that can show up in either type of Russian dressing.

The mayonnaise-based version has a creamy mouthfeel along with a little umami and spice from the Worcestershire sauce and horseradish. The mayonnaise-free version is not creamy at all but is more strongly acidic and typically adds celery seeds for a more herbaceous and savory flavor profile. Both versions are great on salads, but the creamy style is the one that is traditionally used on Reuben sandwiches.

A decent second choice: Catalina dressing

Catalina dressing is also known as Catalina-style dressing or Catalina French dressing. All the monikers refer to a tangy and spicy dressing with a tomato base. The tomato base makes it more like the version of Russian dressing without mayonnaise. Recipes typically include tomato paste or ketchup, hot sauce and oil accompanied by a variety of spices. A Catalina dressing will contain garlic and onion, usually in powdered form.

Like Russian dressing, the most common recipes include a lot of sugar to make this a fairly sweet salad dressing. The primary use is as a dressing for green salads, but it may also be used as a marinade for meat and even as a dipping sauce.

If you are making Catalina dressing from scratch, you can add celery seeds to make it more like Russian dressing. If you are buying the commercial bottled version, note that it will not have the celery seed flavor that is a distinctive characteristic of Russian dressing.

In a pinch: Thousand Island dressing

While it is a more popular dressing than Russian dressing, Thousand Island dressing is not that different. Its taste, appearance, and list of ingredients are all similar to those of the creamy style of Russian dressing. For many people, it is the better-known topping for Reuben sandwiches when compared to Russian dressing. However, Russian dressing is what traditionalists prefer.

Thousand Island dressing has the creaminess of Russian dressing along with the tomato base and the sweetness. Also, Thousand Island dressing contains pickles in the form of chopped dill pickles or pickle relish just like creamy Russian dressing.

Thousand Island dressing does have a few key differences that keep it from being an ideal Russian dressing substitute. Those differences include the fact that it is simply not as highly seasoned. It will not have any of the more flavorful elements of a Russian dressing including Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and celery seeds.

Other alternatives

French dressing is a popular salad dressing option with many of the same characteristics as Russian dressing. The original French dressing was a vinaigrette. Over the years, the term French dressing has shifted from referring to a vinaigrette to one that means the creamy orange version made popular by Kraft Foods. This version is a good substitute for Russian dressing.