Tartar Sauce Recipe

If you find yourself unable to use an entire bottle of tartar sauce before the expiration date, making some homemade tartar sauce might just be the solution.

dipping fried fish into tartar sauce


Tartar sauce is a must-have for nearly any dish with seafood or fish. Why buy it from the store when you can make this tasty homemade tartar sauce in seconds with just a handful of ingredients?

This tartar sauce recipe is easy to whip up just hours before dinner and tastes better than anything you’ll find in the store!

Why You’ll Love This Homemade Tartar Sauce Recipe

A creamy condiment that pairs well with fish and a whole slew of other things- what’s not to love!

  • Better than store-bought – I always prefer making homemade sauces, because I know exactly what’s going into them. No preservatives or nastiness.
  • Easy to make – You only need a handful of simple ingredients and ten minutes to make this super simple sauce.
  • Tastes great on anything – Besides fried fish, this sauce tastes great on tuna, as a salad dressing or just about anything else you can think of.

What is Tartar Sauce?

Tartar sauce. It’s a condiment pretty high on the “love it or absolutely hate it list”. Either you think it belongs with nearly every fish or seafood dish you make, or you don’t even want it in the house. It is a mayo base with some sort of pickles and mustard.

As a child, ketchup was the only thing that belonged anywhere near my fish sticks but as an adult, I’ve grown to love and appreciate tartar sauce (and also remoulade and cocktail sauce, but that is another story).

spoon dipping into tartar sauce

Tartar Sauce Ingredients

The ingredient list is pretty short and quite frankly, probably items you already have in the fridge.

  • Mayonnaise- Homemade or store bought. I haven’t experimented making this recipe with plain yogurt base, but it is possible.
  • Pickles or cornichons- Minced super small, these are the little green bits. Customize your sauce by using speciality pickles like habanero honey or bread and butter.
  • White wine vinegar- This is our secret ingredient and serves two purposes. In addition to mustard, it gives a slightly acidic and “wow” factor to this famous dipping sauce. It also thins it our a tad for a better dippable consistency. Sometimes straight mayo can be a little too thick.
  • Dijon mustard– For this sauce I use a smooth Dijon, but coarse can also add interest and texture. Experiment with other varieties and use a basic yellow mustard if that is all you happen to have.
  • Coarse kosher salt– Salt brings out the natural flavors in all of the ingredients.
  • Ground black pepper– Or opt for white pepper if you’d prefer a less peppery taste.
angle of tartar sauce in a serving bowl

How to Make Tartar Sauce

Like most sauces, tartar sauce will taste even better if the flavors have time to marry. You can eat it right after making, but if you happen to have an hour or more, let it sit in the fridge for a bit.

  1. Combine ingredients. Add all ingredients to a small bowl. 
  2. Stir. Mix the ingredients together until completely combined.
  3. Chill. Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

History of tartar sauce

The sauce and its name have been found in cookbooks since the 19th century. The name derives from the French sauce tartare, same as beef tartare and the such.

You can also find a similar sauce with different names throughout England and Turkey, so the actual origins of the sauce itself are unknown. The original variations used finely chopped capers and dill instead of dill pickles or gherkins.

I like adding those additional ingredients for dinners like battered fish fingers to give the meal even more added flavor.

close up of battered fish dipping into tartar sauce


This sauce is super easy to customize, adding more or less of the flavors you love or can do without. Here are my favorite add-ins to pair perfectly with whatever dish you plan to serve it alongside.

  • minced capers
  • hot sauce
  • parsley
  • pimento (minced roasted red peppers) 
  • dill relish
  • worcestershire sauce
  • sweet pickle relish
  • fresh dill weed or dried dill
  • pickle juice
  • green onions (scallions)
  • lemon juice
  • onion powder
overhead of tartar sauce

What Does Tartar Sauce Go With?

The correct answer is just about anything you want! This creamy condiment is traditionally served with seafood and fish, but here are a few more ideas.

Make Ahead & Storage

Make ahead: This condiment is perfect made in advance. I would say about 24 hours, keep it chilled until ready to serve and then give it a quick stir before serving. 

Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Stir well before using.

Freezing: I do not recommend freezing any mayonnaise based foods. 

homemade tartar sauce recipe for pinterest

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close up of tartar sauce for pinterest
spoon dipping into tartar sauce

Homemade Tartar Sauce

4.28 from 51 votes
Tartar sauce is a must-have for nearly any dish with seafood or fish. Why buy it from the store when you can make this tasty homemade tartar sauce in seconds with just a handful of ingredients?
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4




  • Combine the mayonnaise, pickles, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was the comment or star ratings!



To add some pizzazz to your Tartar Sauce, consider adding: 
  • minced capers
  • hot sauce
  • parsley
  • pimento (minced roasted red peppers) 


Calories: 192 kcal, Fat: 21 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 11 mg, Sodium: 256 mg, Vitamin A: 30 IU, Calcium: 3 mg, Iron: 0.1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 192
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: tartar sauce
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this ahead for the dinner for later, I loved that I had everything on hand and it took less than 5 minutes. Delicious and easy is something I need in my life. Making the fish later and can’t wait to have my LO and Hubby try it. Thanks again =)

  2. 5 stars
    Hello 🙂 Prior to finding and making your recipe, I never thought I would give a 5 five star review to any tartar sauce recipe! Mainly because I am SUPER grossed out by all 3 condiments. Looking at them is bad enough but smelling and actually measuring them is a whole other level of gross out!! But I did the research and made the recipe as a surprise for mom. We were having fish sticks and I realized we had no tartar sauce on hand, and could not head to the market. Those 2 together are such a happy combo for her and I wanted to give to her some of the light she gives to so many.
    We did not have pickles on hand, thankfully, but I used an equal amount of relish. We also don’t have white wine vinegar but I used regular vinegar. It was soooooo quick and simple to put together and worked absolutely fine with a whisk, thankfully (since we don’t have a food processor). Those facts alone would have given you 5 stars but the main reason was my mom’s reaction. I wish you could have seen/heard her. She went ON about it!!!! You made her smile so very much and it took already yummy fish sticks to a new level! It even made my too plain (oops!) mashed potatoes more tolerable. My sibs got back later and tried some at mom’s insistence. They also enjoyed it!
    One more big point for you: how very easy it is to reduce or increase! That is going to come in very handy, especially on fridays during lent. I have a feeling, tartar sauce will never be on our shopping list again but the condiments will be at some point. And I have a feeling I accidentally made myself the official tartar sauce maker of the family :p not sure how I feel about that, but I may need to invest in nose plugs :p

    1. LOL. You have no idea how hard I just laughed. I HATE TARTAR SAUCE TOO! And I made it this weekend for my husband and basically said.. you know I love you cause I made this. But he adores this recipe too. We made some frozen fish filets in the AirFryer with everything bagel seasoning on this. I just used malt vinegar. Glad you (he) loved it!

      1. I am delighted to know that there are others like me out there! I give you major points for making/sharing this recipe for people like my mom, and my sis who is limited because some other brands add garlic which she can’t have.
        I was amused by your comment to your husband, since mom and I had a similar exchange. It really meant a lot to her that I did that!