Homemade Tartar Sauce

published Apr 17, 2024
Tartar Sauce Recipe

This old-school sauce is the absolute best for dipping crispy french fries and all types of fried seafood.

Serves6 to 8

Makes1 1/2 cups

Prep5 minutes

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overhead shot of fish and chips on a platter, with a bowl of tartar sauce in the middle of the platter - topped with herbs.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Is it weird to say that I love tartar sauce? Because it’s true. I am 100% that person who will judge a seafood restaurant by its tartar sauce. One star if it tastes like I’m eating a spoonful of mayo, and five stars if it’s bright, tangy, and crunchy. This tartar sauce recipe is five stars. It tastes way better than any other version I’ve ever had. 

The best part? This tartar sauce comes together in five minutes with ingredients that are mostly fridge staples. Pickles and capers are there for tang and crunch, parsley and dill add freshness, lemon juice adds much-needed acidity, and the creamy mayo brings it all together. I love to dip crispy french fries and all sorts of fried seafood, like this beer-battered fish, into it. I’ve even been known to mix tartar sauce with canned tuna and call it tuna salad. It’s so versatile and if you aren’t already a fan of tartar sauce, you will be shortly!

Why You’ll Love It

  • To avoid your tartar sauce tasting flat and boring, I call for letting it sit for 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld and balances them out. Most other recipes don’t call for this extra step, but it makes a world of difference! 
  • Unlike other tartar sauces, this one doesn’t taste like straight-up mayo. I cut the mayo with an assortment of minced shallot, fresh herbs, lemon juice, chopped pickles, and capers, all of which add brightness, depth, and texture.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Key Ingredients in Tartar Sauce

  • Mayo. This serves as the body of the sauce. Because this recipe is rather generous with the amount, make sure to use a mayo you like. 
  • Herbs. I like my tartar sauce loaded with herbs for a fresher flavor. This recipe calls for parsley and dill, but other herbs like chives and tarragon are welcome additions. 
  • Pickle-y things. It isn’t tartar sauce without the tang! Both chopped dill pickles and capers add a briny, vinegary bite. 
  • Lemon juice. Just one tablespoon helps balance the pickles while also cutting through the creamy mayo. 

How to Make Tartar Sauce

  1. Prep your fresh ingredients. Juice a lemon, and chop some shallot, dill pickle spears, capers, and parsley and/or dill.
  2. Make the tartar sauce. Stir the ingredients together with mayo and season with pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving. 

Helpful Swaps

  • If you don’t have a shallot on hand, swap in an equal amount of finely chopped white onion. 
  • To use up a jar of sweet pickle relish, bread and butter pickles, or tiny cornichons, swap it in for the dill pickle spears. If you’re using relish, start with 1/4 cup, taste, and add more as needed. 
  • For a kick, I like to add in a few dashes of my favorite hot sauce or some Dijon mustard. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

Because tartar sauce is a mix of shelf-stable and fresher ingredients, it can last up to one week in the fridge. I do not recommend freezing tartar sauce, as freezing and thawing will change its texture. If you need less, this recipe can easily be halved! 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Brett Regot

What to Serve with Tartar Sauce

Tartar Sauce Recipe

This old-school sauce is the absolute best for dipping crispy french fries and all types of fried seafood.

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 1

    small shallot

  • 2

    dill pickle spears

  • 2 tablespoons

    drained nonpareil capers

  • 2 tablespoons

    fresh parsley leaves, fresh dill, or a combination

  • 1 cup


  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Juice 1/2 medium lemon until you have 1 tablespoon. Finely chop 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons). Coarsely chop 2 dill pickle spears (1/3 cup) and 2 tablespoons drained nonpareil capers. Finely chop the leaves and tender stems from 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, fresh dill, or a combination.

  2. Add 1 cup mayonnaise and stir to combine. Taste and season with freshly ground black pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The tartar sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Stir again before serving.