House Dressing

I went to the College of William and Mary. And in Colonial (er…Revolutionary?) Williamsburg, there is a magical place called The Cheese Shop.

Among students, The Cheese Shop was famous for one thing: its sandwiches, slathered with house dressing. Most of us sampled it for the first time during freshman orientation, when our guides instructed us to dip some old crusty French bread ends, which can’t be made into sandwiches, into this dip and try it. I remember thinking, “Ugh, what is this stuff?” at first taste, but somehow by the second bite I was hooked.

If you went to William and Mary, you probably know what I’m talking about.

I ate house dressing on many things, from celery to salmon. And even though I now live 3 hours away, I have found a passable recipe that resembles the Dijonnaise I grew to love so dearly. Every time I make it, I am filled with nostalgia and…well, calories.

I think you should try this dip. Bring it to your friends for New Years with some crusty bread or vegetables. Put it on your burgers. Eat it with your hot wings. Don’t think about the fat content. Just do it.

This dip is so simple to make, and it is allergy friendly, which makes it a perfect contribution to a holiday pot luck! Yes, it is almost entirely made out of mayonnaise…but you can worry about that on January first, when you resolve not to eat anything but salads for at least two weeks, and to go to the gym every day, and to floss after every meal. Now is your moment, your time to eat house dressing with abandon, darn the consequences!

Get out your food processor, blender, or Magic Bullet. Really anything that has a puree function will work. And if you don’t have anything like that in your kitchen, never fear…you will have to mince the garlic into a paste, but you can make this dip with a bowl and a spoon just as well.

In the kitchen appliance bowl of your choice, combine the mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s light, because it is a high quality mayo, but it is slightly less horrifically bad for you than regular mayo…), Dijon  mustard (I recommend a plain Dijon, not one with fancy add-ins like white wine, which dull the spiciness, and certainly not a honey Dijon…blech), Worcestershire sauce, garlic, sugar, black pepper, and salt. Puree these ingredients together, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add in the mustard seeds and stir to combine. If you don’t have mustard seeds, you can still make the dijonnaise, but you will miss out on the interesting textural aspect of the seeds.

Serve this dressing with whatever you’d like!

“Cheese Shop” House Dressing

lightly adapted from
serves 10

1 cup high-quality mayonnaise or light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. smooth Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped (or minced into a paste, if not using a food processor)
1 tsp. turbinado or light brown sugar
pinch of salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. mustard seeds

Combine all but the mustard seeds in a food processor. Pulse repeatedly until everything is well mixed together (particularly make sure there are no large chunks of garlic remaining in the dip).
Stir in the mustard seeds.
Serve with crusty bread or vegetables for dipping, or as a condiment on sandwiches or meats.


9 comments to “House Dressing”

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  1. Carrie - June 9, 2012 Reply

    You are an evil genius. I had a friend who was visiting the ‘burg pivk up some house fore because i missed it. I’m almost afraid to male this, lest the Cheese Shop become less special to me, but I really want to try it.
    Carrie, WM class of 2006

    • Melissa - June 9, 2012 Reply

      I still buy the large tub of house dressing whenever I pass through the ‘burg, and I think theirs really is the best, but this one runs a really close second!! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  2. Grandma Loy - September 14, 2015 Reply

    Hi Melissa, I am just dropping by to let you know that this is the recipe I picked for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. I love, love, love this stuff. If you drop by my post, you will see what I have used it with so far. So glad I found this. You have a very nice blog here. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.

  3. Dan Seely - November 15, 2015 Reply

    I just want to point out that I devised this recipe first in 2008 and posted it on Epicurious. Within a few days some woman (Sharon123) copied it verbatim, uploading it on saying she “modified” it. The only modification she made was adding the word “large” in front of clove of garlic.

    Several women have copied it from there over the past 7 years, posting it to blogs as if they created it.

    I went to William and Mary too. So much for the honor system.

    • Melissa - November 15, 2015 Reply

      Hey Dan. If you’ll notice, I did credit my source, which was As I look back now, I see that the person who posted it there may have gotten it from Epicurious, and therefore from you, but I always link to the place I found the recipe first. I’m sorry you feel taken advantage of (and it was never my intention to pass this off as something I created, but rather to share something I thought was delicious)! I have truly enjoyed being able to make House Dressing at home, so I thank you!

    • Ann - March 21, 2021 Reply

      Thank you, Dan, for figuring out this recipe! I graduated from W&M in 1981, so 30 years ago, and “roast beef and cheese with extra house” is my mantra of the perfect sandwich, which is saying something since I live in New Orleans! I don’t use mayo for anything but tuna salad, but this will now become reason #2. Cheers!

  4. Maura - June 18, 2019 Reply

    As a very old WM Grad myself, I woke up this morning (not hungover, btw, which is why I usually needed bread ends and house) CRAVING House dressing and the veggie edam lentil sandwich. I’ve been searching recipes online all day in order to recreate my college weekend favorite. Thanks!

    • Melissa - June 21, 2019 Reply

      Happy to help! I hope it brought back sweet memories!

  5. Kim B - February 27, 2022 Reply

    OMG. I can’t believe I have found this. I have wondered for 30 years how to make the Cheese Shop dip. I have the memory of being introduced to it etched into my mind – we ate a whole loaf of bread. LOL. Thank you so much.

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