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Homemade Tartar Sauce Recipe

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This simple tartar sauce recipe is so good with more than just fish sticks or fish sandwiches. Use it as a creamy spread for burgers or chicken sandwiches or a dipping sauce for fries and vegetables. You’re going to be hooked by all the new and wonderful ways you’ll find to use this creamy condiment.

Overhead image of tartar sauce in a bowl with dill, lemon and surrounded by fish.

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Here in New England, you can find tartar sauce next to any fried fish, fried clam, or fish cake. And I love it so much, that I always need to order extra so every bite of my fish is coated in this tangy, creamy sauce.

This homemade tartar sauce recipe uses basic ingredients and is such a simple sauce to make. Plus, when you make your own tartar sauce instead of grabbing a jar at the grocery store, you know exactly what’s in it and can customize it to your tastes.

Tartar sauce is so versatile and goes with a lot of dishes that might surprise you. It’s the perfect condiment that goes great with everything from burgers to breaded vegetables (like air fryer zucchini) and is amazing with french fries or on a baked potato… it’s so much better than sour cream!

Why You’ll Love This Easy Tartar Sauce Recipe

  • A super easy recipe that is quick to make with simple ingredients
  • Customize the ingredients to suit your family’s tastes
  • Tastes a million times better than store-bought sauce options
  • Goes great with fried fish, but also with chicken, burgers, baked potatoes, and more

For the full New England fish fry experience, try this tartar sauce alongside my Crispy Air Fried Fish Filets, with homemade coleslaw, fries, and a dinner roll!

Tartar Sauce Ingredients

You only need a few basic pantry staples to make this easy homemade tartar sauce recipe. And the results are so much tastier than store-bought options. 

Mayonnaise – You can use regular or light mayo

Dill Pickles – Diced small. You can also use dill or sweet pickle relish if you like a little sweetness to your sauce.

Fresh Dill – Very finely chopped. You can use freeze-dried dill in equal amounts. If you’re not a dill fan, omit the dill and add other fresh herbs like chives or parsley.

Fresh Lemon Juice or Pickle Juice – You can use all of one or the other or a blend of the two.

Garlic Powder – If you don’t have garlic powder, you can use 1 teaspoon of minced garlic instead.

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

How to Make Tartar Sauce

Homemade tartar sauce couldn’t be easier to make. Just combine the ingredients, mix well, and chill until you’re ready to serve.

Step 1

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix with a whisk or rubber spatula.

Ingredients for tartar sauce in a bowl

Step 2

Give the sauce a taste and adjust seasonings to your preferences. You can adjust the consistency by adding more mayo or lemon juice.

A clear bowl with tartar sauce and a blue spatula

Step 3

Cover tightly with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and let chill for at least two hours before serving.

Overhead image of tartar sauce.

Make Tartar Sauce in Advance

This tartar sauce can be made up to a week in advance. And the good news is it tastes better as it sits.

Substitutions and Variations

Additional spices and simple ingredients can be added to the tartar sauce ingredients depending on your personal tastes, what you’re serving it with, and even what you have on hand. Here are just a few ideas to get you started toward your own best tartar sauce recipe.

  • Add a tablespoon of chopped red onion or shallot for extra zing.
  • Swap the dill pickles for dill pickle relish or use sweet pickles or sweet relish (for a hint of sweetness to the tartar sauce). Start with ½ a cup and add more to adjust the consistency.
  • Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce for a bolder umami flavor. Great paired with steaks and beef dishes.
  • Add some extra black pepper, cayenne pepper, or Old Bay Seasoning, to spice things up a bit.
  • Add some Dijon mustard or mustard powder. Great with chicken dishes.
  • Use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. 
  • Use egg-free or vegan mayonnaise to make this an egg free option.

Tips & Tricks

  • The tartar sauce tastes better as it sits, so make it quite a few hours before you serve it for best results
  • Adjust Consistency. If the tartar sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with a little more lemon or pickle juice. If it’s too thin, add more mayonnaise.

What Does Tartar Sauce Go With?

Of course, this homemade tartar sauce is the perfect companion to your favorite seafood recipes like battered fish sticks, fried fish filets, baked cod, fish sandwiches, etc. But tartar sauce is so much more than that.

Tartar sauce on a platter with fried fish.

This creamy, lemony dill sauce is great for chicken, shrimp, and even steak! Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use it:

Storage Instructions

Store extra tartar sauce in a well-sealed, airtight container or small mason jar in the refrigerator.

Keep it off the refrigerator door. That’s how you make tartar sauce stay fresh the longest. Stored properly, leftover tartar sauce will be good for up to 1 week. 

FAQs

What is traditional tartar sauce usually made of?

Tartar sauce is a creamy base of mayonnaise, pickles (either in the form of chopped pickles or relish), and a few herbs and spices.

What is a good substitute for tartar sauce? 

Depending on the protein, a zesty aioli or in the instance of a fried fish, malt vinegar, lemon juice, or classic ketchup is often used.

What should tartar sauce taste like? 

Tartar sauce should be creamy, with a lot of tang, and a little bit of bite (from pepper and garlic) to offset the mayo and the breading of the fish it’s commonly served with.

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If you make this recipe, give it a 5 STAR Rating and Leave a Comment!

Tartar sauce in a gray bowl surrounded by lemons and fried food.

Homemade Tartar Sauce

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 11 minutes

You won't believe how easy it is to make your own homemade tartar sauce! Creamy, flavorful, with a little zip!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup dill pickles, diced small
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or pickle juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add more mayo, lemon juice, or pepper to adjust the consistency or flavor.
  2. Chill for at least 2 hours for best results and serve.

Notes

  • Add more pickle juice or mayo to taste and for ideal consistency
  • If you only have table salt on hand, reduce the amount called for in the recipe to just a pinch. Table salt is a lot saltier than Kosher salt.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 128Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 278mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g

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