Condiment/ Sauces

Homemade Tartar Sauce

October 18, 2021
homemade tartar sauce

Homemade Tartar Sauce–the ultimate condiment for fish sticks and really anything crispy and fried! Growing up in the South, we had a lot of fried seafood whether it was at the Calabash restaurant, local fish fries, or harvested and cooked at home. Two sauces we always had on deck were tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. My favorite was always tartar sauce because of its creamy, tangy flavor. So for this recipe, I wanted to take an oldie but a goodie and liven it up with some spices and herbs!

What is Tartar Sauce?

Tartar sauce is a creamy condiment most often served with fried seafood, meats, and beef tartar in France. At its base, tartar sauce is a combination of mayonnaise and pickles. Depending on where you are in the world you may find dill, tarragon, and of other readily available herbs. Here in the US, it’s made with dill. It’s an incredibly versatile sauce with countless variations of pickles, herbs, spices, and citrus.

Origin of Tartar Sauce

Tartar sauce hails from the sauce capital of the world – France. It first showed up in French cookbooks sometime in the 19th century as an accompaniment to beef tartar. It’s since traveled the world to here in the US where you’ll find it on any fried seafood platter. Areas throughout the Middle East and Slavic regions both had their own renditions of tartar sauce as well; some made with tahini, others with a mayonnaise-like base. Some historians attribute the Tartars to its origin, as a similar sauce was eaten alongside cured meats, not to mention the name!

Crisp Dilly Breaded Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce - packed full of flavor and super simple to make! Perfect for weeknight meals.
Crispy Dilly Breaded Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce

How to Make Tartar Sauce

Tartar sauce is very simple to make. Just chop up some pickles and fresh herbs, and combine them in a bowl with mayonnaise and salt. Make it as simple or complex as you like.

Main Ingredients:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Chopped pickles (can substitute with other types of pickles besides cucumber; see below for some surprisingly delicious replacements)
  • Dill
  • Salt

Add a Little Spice:

  • Garlic (not too much, unless you really like garlic)
  • Shallot (shallots are great because they’re like a mild onion; however if you only have onions, go for it. Just put about 1/2 as much)
  • Citrus or vinegar
  • Paprika (can use sweet and smoked as well, but just a pinch)
  • Any kind of pickled vegetable; kimchi is great
  • Olives
    • Chutney


For a healthier take, you can also sub out the mayonnaise for yogurt–packs a little less fat and more protein. If so, omit the lemon juice.

You can also use onion or onion powder in place of the shallot.

Out of the box! Try subbing out the pickles with kimchi. So yum! Pretty similar to Yum Yum sauce.

Try it out with these recipes:

Dilly Breaded Fish Sticks

Southern Salmon Patties

Air Fryer Okra

SUPER HACK – Use leftover tartar sauce as the dressing for egg salad! For every heaping teaspoon of tartar sauce you have left, boil one egg, chop it up, and toss it with the sauce. So good and so easy.

Homemade Tartar Sauce

Condiment, Sauce, Dip French, American
By Katelyn Bailey Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 5 minutes

Creamy, tangy delicious homemade tartar sauce. Super quick and simple to make and keeps in the fridge for up to a week. Use it anytime you would have ketchup or aioli. Great with fish, chicken, fries or in sandwiches and egg salad. And my fav, homemade fish sticks!


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
  • *OR 2 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot (1/4 teaspoon of onion powder to substitute)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbs chopped dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of water, or more for thinning



Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. You may want to add a little water depending on how thick you prefer.




  • 119 Calories
  • 8g Carbohydrates
  • 8mg Cholesterol
  • 9.9g Fat
  • .2g Fiber
  • .5g Protein
  • 1.5g Saturated fat
  • 416mg Sodium
  • 2g Sugar


Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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