Tartar Sauce

published Jul 16, 2021
Tartar Sauce

Fried fish is even better with this zingy homemade tartar sauce

Makesabout 2 cups

Prep10 minutes

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Tarter Sauce in a black bowl with a lemon on the side
Credit: Tara Holland
Tartar Sauce

This quick homemade tartar sauce is full of fresh, zesty, tangy flavor. While the popular condiment originated in France, it was adopted by us British folk and has become part of our Friday-night fish-supper tradition ever since, as it’s the perfect accompaniment to traditional fish and chips.

Once you’ve tried this homemade version, the store-bought stuff just won’t compare. The best part? Most of the ingredients, like capers and pickles, are fridge staples. 

What’s in Tartar Sauce?

There are many variations of tartar sauce and you can easily mix things up by swapping out the fresh herbs. Replace the tarragon with basil or dill to freshen it up even further. Try adding some finely chopped olives, replacing the lemon juice with apple cider or tarragon vinegar, or adding a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to give it a slight kick. Mix and match your tartar sauce to your personal taste.

The Difference Between Remoulade and Tartar Sauce

While remoulade and tartar sauce might look similar at first glance, they are in fact quite different.

  • Remoulade has more of a yellow hue, due to being spiced with curry powder, turmeric, or mustard.
  • Remoulade can also have chopped anchovies or Worcestershire sauce to add a salty, deeply savory flavor.
  • In the U.K. and France, remoulade is often served tossed with shredded celery root and served like a coleslaw.

What Can You Eat with Tartar Sauce?

This sauce marries well with most seafood — especially fried oysters, fish sandwiches, or any fried or grilled fish. It’s also a great dipping sauce for shrimp and a great alternative to cocktail sauce.

How Long Does Homemade Tartar Sauce Last?

While store-bought tartar can have a pretty long shelf life, homemade tartar sauce doesn’t stay fresh for quite as long. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container and use it within a week — although you’ll likely have no problem polishing it off before then.

Tartar Sauce

Fried fish is even better with this zingy homemade tartar sauce

Prep time 10 minutes

Makes about 2 cups

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    small shallot

  • 1

    small lemon

  • 9

    cornichons or 2 baby dill pickles

  • 2 tablespoons

    non-pareil (small) capers

  • 2 tablespoons

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 tablespoon

    fresh tarragon leaves

  • 1 cup

    regular or vegan mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon

    cornichon pickle brine

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the following, adding them to a small bowl as you complete them: Finely chop 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons). Finely grate the zest of 1 small lemon until you have 1 teaspoon zest. Juice the lemon until you have 1 tablespoon juice. Stir to combine and let sit for a few minutes so the lemon juice mellows the shallot.

  2. Prepare the following, adding them to the bowl of lemon and shallots as you complete them: Chop 9 cornichons or 2 baby dill pickles into small dice (about 1/3 cup). Place 2 tablespoons capers in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water, then pat dry and coarsely chop. Finely chop 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves and 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves.

  3. Add 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon cornichon or pickle brine, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine.

Recipe Notes

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