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Best Homemade Tartar Sauce Recipe

Homemade tartar sauce is super easy to make, which is why I rarely purchase it already made. You only need a few ingredients that you probably already have.

This classic tartar sauce recipe is delicious as-is, but you can always substitute or leave out ingredients you don’t want. However, try it this way first because it’s delicious.

Easy Old Fashioned Tartar Sauce for Fish and Other Seafood

Small bowl of tartar sauce with a spoon and towel

Tartar sauce is delicious on seafood, such as this pecan-crusted fish that I make or these tasty salmon cakes, also known as salmon patties or salmon croquettes.

Or if you like fish sticks, this tartar sauce makes them even better. It’s also good on crab cakes, fried fish fillets, or any of your favorite fish or seafood.

The sauce adds a creamy texture along with great flavor to whatever you put it on. So you never have to eat boring fish. After you make it the first time, you can adjust the ingredients to suit your own taste.

Although you can purchase it already made, there is no need since it’s so easy to make from scratch. This easy tartar sauce recipe will make you a believer in making all of your own dipping sauce.

It doesn’t take a long time to make, and you can whip it up while the fish cooks. Or you can prepare it in advance and stick it in the fridge to chill for a while.

You may also enjoy this flavorful cocktail sauce that’s also good on any kind of fish. I always make it homemade cocktail sauce for shrimp, oysters, and other shellfish. It’s truly a delicious condiment.

What’s Tartar Sauce?

If you’ve never had fish with tartar sauce, you may not understand why it’s so popular. This blend of mayonnaise and seasonings adds a creamy depth of flavor to all forms of seafood.

Baked fish or salmon with tartar sauce provides an explosion of deliciousness that makes you want to go back for more. Try it, and you’ll probably want it any time you have a seafood dinner.

Some people like to add a little kick to their dips and sauces. If this is you, try tartar sauce with horseradish or hot sauce. I enjoy a spicy tartar sauce, but when I make it for others, I typically leave it out.

Homemade Tartar Sauce Ingredients

As I already mentioned, you don’t need many ingredients, and this is a really easy tartar sauce recipe. In fact, you can get by with only three or four simple ingredients that you probably have in your fridge.

But in addition to the basic ingredients, I like to add a little bit more for extra flavor. I use mayonnaise, mustard, sweet pickle relish, and lemon or lime juice.

Lemon, sweet pickle relish, mustard, and mayonnaise

You can also add cayenne, Old Bay seasoning, dill, Italian seasoning blend, or any other seasonings you enjoy.

Also, if you prefer dill pickles or dill relish over sweet, swap them out. Or you might want to mix a little of both to add even more depth of flavor. You can even add pickle juice if you want.

However, if you want to go the other way and make it sweeter, add a little sugar or honey. For tartness, use either bottled lemon juice or fresh lemon juice. It really doesn’t matter.

I’ve also used dijon mustard instead of the more traditional yellow mustard. It adds an extra little kick to the flavor.

My motto in the kitchen is to take a basic recipe and make it your own. If your family likes your adjustments, make sure you jot down the recipe so you always have it.

I’m all about experimenting in the kitchen. In fact, that’s how new recipes get their start. Regardless of how you make it, the homemade version is almost always better than the jarred stuff.

If you have kids or grandkids, they’ll cherish your recipes. In fact, some of the foods my grandmothers cooked are still among my favorites.

For the exact measurements of each ingredient and full directions on how to make this tartar sauce, go to the recipe card at the bottom of the page. You can even print out the card by using the “print” button.

How Do You Make Homemade Tartar Sauce?

This is so easy anyone can do it in about 5 minutes. The first time you make this, I recommend following the recipe. Then adjust in the future to make it exactly the way you want it.

First, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and pickle relish. If you don’t like sweet pickles, use dill pickle relish.

One of my great aunts used miracle whip for hers. Normally, I prefer mayonnaise, but I have to admit that her finished sauce was really good.

If you want your tartar sauce to have a little more body, you can add some plain Greek yogurt. The more yogurt you add the thicker the sauce will be. Or you can use sour cream for similar results.

Other ingredients you might want to add are onion powder, garlic powder, or black pepper.

Mayonnaise, mustard, and pickle relish in a bowl before mixing

Stir until well mixed. You can use a food processor, but it’s not necessary because all of the ingredients blend together so well.

It’s actually good enough to serve now, but I like to add another ingredient.

Mayonnaise, mustard, and relish mixed

Next, add the lemon or lime juice. Add just a little to make it a tiny bit tart or more for a tangy tartar sauce.

You can use fresh lemon juice or the kind from a bottle. Either way, this gives the tartar sauce the best flavor.

Another seasoning you can add is jarred or fresh dill. This ingredient is optional, but I think that a little bit of it adds a lot of flavor. I didn’t have any on hand this time.

Lemon juice added to the mixture

If you want to add any other seasonings, like a touch of horseradish, you can do so at any time. You can also make a couple of flavors of tartar sauce to suit different people’s tastes.

I chose to add some Old Bay seasoning because I’m going to serve it with a very mild fish. Besides, I actually prefer a spicy tartar sauce, while others prefer more of a zesty flavor with additional dill or even more lemon juice.

Old Bay seasoning beside basic tartar sauce mixture

After you sprinkle just a little of the Old Bay on top, stir it into the mixture.

Then taste it to see if you need to add more.

Old Bay seasoning sprinkled over tartar sauce mixture before stirring

Finally, refrigerate the tartar sauce until you’re ready to use it.

I think it’s best after a couple of hours, when all the flavors have had a chance to hang out together.

Homemade tartar sauce, spoon, and towel on a cheese board

How Long Does Tartar Sauce Keep?

This tartar sauce should be good for up to a couple of days if you store it in an airtight container.

However, you probably won’t have any left after the first day.

This is a sweet tartar sauce recipe that’s been popular with my family for as long as I can remember.

If you’re looking for a tartar sauce recipe without relish, you can use chopped pickles–either dill or sweet–instead. Or you can completely leave them out.

However, if you want the crunch of the relish without the pickles, you can use finely chopped celery or onion … or both. If you’re not sure, make small amounts of each and get a consensus from others at the dinner table.

You can make your tartar sauce extra fancy by adding a slice of lemon to the side of the bowl. That adds a simple touch of elegance to the meal like you would get at your favorite seafood restaurant.

Bowl of homemade tartar sauce

More Recipes

Another seafood you might want to serve this tartar sauce is these Nashville fish fingers from South Your Mouth. The sauce will add another delicious element to the dish.

Speaking of fish, I make this delicious parmesan pesto tilapia. The combination of flavors eliminates the need for any sauce, but you can still add more if you like.

Although we love all kinds of seafood at our house, we also enjoy a variety of other food. One of our most recent favorites is this savory beef and rice casserole. I like it because it’s easy to make.

Another recipe we enjoy is this Italian chicken zucchini casserole. It delivers a powerful flavor with only a few ingredients.

Bowl of tartar sauce

Homemade Tartar Sauce

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Serve this homemade tartar sauce with any type of fish.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon of prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice

Instructions

    1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and pickle relish. Stir until it is well mixed.
    2. Add the lemon or lime juice and stir again.
    3. If you want to add more seasonings, do it now.

Notes

If you want to add more flavor to your tartar sauce, try cayenne, Old Bay seasoning, dill, Italian seasoning blend, or any other spice you enjoy. Start out with a pinch of extra seasoning and add if you think you need more.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 132Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 8mgSodium 153mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 0gSugar 1gProtein 0g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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