Skip the store-bought tartar sauce and instead, make your own homemade tartar sauce with this easy recipe. It’s the perfect sauce for fish, crab cakes and lots of other seafood dishes. This easy tartar sauce recipe can be made in about 10 minutes from start to finish and the flavors are just what you expect.
What is tartar sauce?
Tartar sauce is a condiment that some say dates back to the Romans. Others put the classic spread squarely in the French camp. Hmm.
Regardless of its origin, tartar sauce is most often served with seafood dishes like fish and chips, fried shrimp, clams and crab cakes.
While recipes may vary from place to place, most all contain these basic ingredients: mayonnaise, pickles, capers and fresh herbs.
Some people like a bit of sweetness in their tartar sauce, others like it on the tangy side. The beauty of making a homemade tartar sauce is that you can easily customize it to your own tastes. That’s the beauty of tartar sauce that’s homemade instead of store-bought. Make it to suit your tastes.
Ingredients for homemade tartar sauce recipe
- Relish (sweet or dill – your choice)
- Dijon Mustard
- Fresh Dill
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Favorite Hot Sauce (optional)
How to make tartar sauce:
- Use a box grater to grate the onion (you don’t need much).
- Use a microplane to zest 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest, then cut the lemon in half and juice it. You’ll need 1 tablespoon of juice.
- In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, relish, chopped capers, onion, dijon mustard, fresh dill, kosher salt and pepper.
- Whisk well to combine.
- Season with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (optional).
Swaps and variations:
Since this tartar sauce recipe is homemade, it’s yours to customize according to your tastes and what you have on hand.
- If you don’t have relish, you can substitute finely chopped pickles in the tartar sauce recipe.
- Don’t have fresh dill? Swap 1 teaspoon of dried dill.
- For a slightly different tang, substitute lime for lemon.
- For more pronounced heat, add a teaspoon of prepared horseradish.
- Don’t like spicy? Skip the hot sauce & horseradish.
What goes with tartar sauce?
You can serve your homemade tartar sauce with practically any seafood that would be better with a spread or dip, from fish sticks to fritto misto. Here are a few of our favorite things to pair it with:
- Homemade tartar sauce is delicious with Fried Whole Belly Clams.
- It’s also a great pairing with Crunchy Salmon Cakes.
- Use it as a sauce for these Grilled Fish Kebabs.
- Try it with my grandmother’s Northern Neck Crab Cakes recipe.
- Use this easy tartar sauce recipe as a dip for Conch Fritters.
- Try it with these Deep Fried Oysters instead of the remoulade.
- Serve it alongside Grilled Octopus.
This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of tartar sauce and each serving is about 2 heaping tablespoons.
It keeps in a covered container for up to a week in the refrigerator.
I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why not. Thaw completely before using and stir well to re-combine the ingredients.
More sauces to go with fish and other seafoods:
- Mustard Sauce ideal for Florida stone crabs and great for crab or fish cakes.
- Classic Cocktail Sauce for shrimp cocktail or fried clam strips.
- Adriatic Sauce an herbal sauce that goes with grilled, sautéed or baked seafood.
- Garlic Aioli – great with grilled or poached fish.
- Lobster Ravioli Sauce – use this on store-bought lobster raviolis or with cooked shrimp and pasta.
- Pineapple Bourbon Glaze – great on grilled seafood like fish, shrimp or calamari.
- As a last resort, just sprinkle your seafood with a bit of Old Bay – always a classic!
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons dill relish can use sweet relish or substitute chopped dill pickles, sweet pickles or bread and butter pickles.
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon capers chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated onion use a box grater or microplane
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried dill)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/3 teaspoon Morton's
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- few dashes hot sauce
- In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, relish (or chopped pickles), lemon zest, lemon juice, dijon mustard, capers, grated onion, dill, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
- Add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (optional) and whisk. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary — adding more hot sauce if needed. Serve.