Homemade Tartar Sauce

Tartar sauce with fried fish on a white plate
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 14 servings
Yield: 1 3/4 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
54 Calories
6g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 14
Amount per serving
Calories 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 105mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic tartar sauce may be simple, but it packs loads of flavor and is the perfect accompaniment to a seafood meal. Mayonnaise and dill pickles are the main ingredients, while chopped dill, capers, a bit of lemon juice, and a dash of mustard add complexity to the flavor. Feel free to use the minced onion in this recipe or leave it out.

This tartar sauce is such an improvement over what you get in jars that you may never buy it again. Plus, when you make your own tartar sauce from scratch, you know exactly what's in it. There are no preservatives, thickeners, modified starches, or high fructose corn syrup. So if you need a small amount for a meal, it's easy to scale the recipe down. Or double the recipe if you're feeding a crowd.

It's an excellent side to serve with seafood, especially fried fish, shrimp, oysters, or clams, or serve it alongside homemade crab cakes, seafood fritters, or clam cakes. It's a great dip for veggies, too. Or spread it on a po'boy sandwich, salmon burger, or fish sandwich.

"This recipe was absolutely delicious and so easy to whip up in a pinch. When you're making homemade, you are able to tweak it as you like, while still remaining true to a proper tartar sauce. This would go perfectly with shrimp cocktail or any seafood dish on a summer day." —Tracy Wilk

Tartar Sauce
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dill pickles, or cornichons, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried dill

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard

  • 2 teaspoons minced onion, optional

  • 1 teaspoon capers, chopped

  • Pinch kosher salt, or to taste

  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for homemade tartar sauce
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, dill pickles, dill, lemon juice, mustard, minced onion (if using), capers, salt, and pepper. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.

    Mixing the tartar sauce ingredients
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Refrigerate the tartar sauce until serving time.

    Homemade classic tartar sauce
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of chopped dill pickles, use dill pickle relish.
  • For a sweeter tartar sauce, replace the chopped dill pickles with chopped sweet pickles. Or add some sugar or another sweetener to taste.
  • Add a bit of heat with a few drops of Tabasco sauce or Sriracha, or fold in 1 or 2 teaspoons of minced pickled or fresh jalapeño pepper.
  • Use a vegan mayonnaise for a vegan-friendly tartar sauce.
  • Add zesty flavor with a dash of horseradish.
  • Swap out the fresh chopped dill with 1 or 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley.

How to Store Tartar Sauce

  • Refrigerate leftover tartar sauce in an airtight container for five to seven days.
  • As with any refrigerated food, it should never be out of the fridge for more than two hours—no more than one hour if the ambient temperature is above 90 F.

Why Is It Called Tartar Sauce?

The name tartar sauce is derived from the French sauce tartare, which was named after the Tatars, Turkic-speaking peoples living mainly in Russia. The sauce is known as tartare sauce in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

What Is a Good Substitute for Tartar Sauce?

  • Instead of tartar sauce, use a garlicky aioli with or without a little dill or chopped pickle.
  • Another good sauce option that goes well with seafood is a tomato-based cocktail sauce.
  • Hummus, which is also slightly acidic with lemon juice, can also make a nice dip for seafood.