Classic Tartar Sauce

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Classic Tartar Sauce made with just a few ingredients and in just a few minutes, you’ll never buy bottled sauce again!

You’ll love this tartar sauce with our Crispy Baked Fish Sticks, Beer Battered Fish and even for your kids on Beer Battered Crispy Fish Tacos. It is the PERFECT swap for the bottled sauce.

Bowl of Tartar Sauce


Classic Tartar Sauce wasn’t a recipe I sought out to learn for the heck of it one day. A few years ago we had some pretty bad luck with our fridge and it didn’t end so well for all the food inside.

So I cleaned it out completely and had to start over. A month or so later, I had made some fried shrimp and of course I hadn’t thought to replace my jar of tartar sauce that seemed to live on the door of my fridge forever.

So off to the internet I went! I found a few recipes and made them all, at once, because yes, I am a food scientist at heart. Also, I love GOOD tartar sauce, and no offense to the pre-made variety, but we can do better.

Fish Stick dipped in Tartar Sauce

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This Classic Tartar Sauce was a version of all three of them that I sort of randomly came up with and it makes for the PERFECT tartar sauce replacement. I haven’t bought another jar of tartar sauce since.

The recipe, if you can even call it one, is so simple that the only thing I want to warn you about is that you really want to give it a bit of time to rest so the flavors can really come together. If you don’t you basically just have pickle mayo, which is fine, but it won’t taste like tartar sauce.

I’ve seen a few other variations of Classic Tartar Sauce on the web which you can totally incorporate into your recipe:

  • Instead of dill pickles you can chop up bread and butter pickles.
  • Instead of pickles, you can use sweet relish.
  • Instead of pickle juice you can use 1/2 the amount of lemon juice.
  • Instead of minced onion, use 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
  • If you really still don’t want to make your own, this is the prepared one I loved.

We’re going to serve this tartar sauce on all the delicious seafood we can eat this summer including Coconut Shrimp and more.

Tartar Sauce in white bowl with fish sticks in background

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Classic Tartar Sauce

5 from 14 votes
  • Yield: 16 servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Course: Sauce
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Classic Tartar Sauce made with just a few ingredients and in just a few minutes, you'll free up space on your fridge door and never buy bottled sauce again!


  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickles minced
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours for the best flavor.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 16 servings, Amount per serving: 96 calories, Calories: 96g, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 103mg, Potassium: 3mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 10g, Calcium: 1g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keywords: How To Make Tartar Sauce, Tartar Sauce

Tartar Sauce with homemade fish sticks

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  1. This is a fine recipe. I used the onion powder suggested as a substitute. No problem. I’ve never found a tartar sauce on the grocery store shelves that I like. All at my dinner table said the Classic Tarter Sauce was great. I’ll definitely stick with this recipe.

  2. Just so you’re aware: Tablespoon is always capitalized in a recipe, teaspoons always use the lower case.

    I’m 74 years old, and I’ve never tasted tarter sauce with dill pickles. I’ve lived almost all of my life in San Francisco, CA. We use sweet or Bread & Butter pickles chopped.

  3. My tartar sauce is basically the same as yours. I add horseradish, yellow mustard and use sweet pickle relish. Just can’t go wrong with made from scratch tartar sauce…Mayo and chopped onion is a must for me.

  4. Super easy and very good! Everyone at the table enjoyed it. Used the onion powder option. It was very tasty on our fish sandwiches. No need to buy tartar sauce in a bottle anymore – thanks so much!

  5. This was the best tartar sauce ever!!! I’ll never buy another jar again. My husband and sister in law loved this tartar sauce!!

  6. I don’t know why you wiouldn’t make shrimp sauce rather than tartar scauce you only need ketchup whorshire scauce and horseradish mix it to taste if you want it to have heat add extra horseradish easy peaze.

    1. I usually make both. Sometimes I will also put out a garlic butter sauce. Seems to depend on what kind of seafood we’re having, but my family loves all of them!

  7. Can’t understand why readers want to add their own Twist to a recipe a person is willing to share with others. This is very Rude. If You feel like Changing someone’s recipe then I would suggest, you get (Your own site) and print out (Your Favorite Recipe) the way (You see fit) and Not try changing the person’s original recipe to (suite you).

    1. I don’t think it’s about changing the recipe. It’s putting your own twist to something that is already good and making it to suit you and your families taste. Life if full of little surprises…

  8. So ya know, I don’t care what word you start your sentences with. I can’t wait to make this. I buy this tiny jar of non gmo tater sauce for nearly $4 and I don’t think I’ll ever do that again after I make this. Looking at some of your recipes too, can’t wait to try them out. Keeping cooking sister!!!!

  9. I use the same ingredients as you do. But don’t use pickle juice instead I put in a little prepared yellow mustard. Gives it just a little kick.

  10. Only chopped onions,dill relish,mayo,a little cream of tarter.No exceptions.A very famous fried catfish place in oklahoma makes it like this.Been cooking fish for 60 yrs!!!

  11. I do not like sweet tarter sauce, so Ive made my own for years.
    Mayo, 2 cups, i/4 cup chopped dill pickle or dill relish, 3 tablespoons dill pickle juice, good dash of hot sauce or Cajun seasoning salt.

  12. I add fresh dill and about a tbs of lemon juice to this mixture. My favorite! I don’t really care for the sweet version.

  13. Loved this recipe but I did spiced it up a bit. Did the mayo, pickle juice and pickles. But used onion powder, garlic powder, few dashes of worcestershire, and some dill. KILLER!! Even my 1year old ate it ?

  14. Gentle suggestion, Starting your sentences with the word , “So” makes you sound less professional. Otherwise, good job.

  15. This came RIGHT in time! My daughter asked me to make her fish fingers and I was thinking of something to serve with it besides ketchup. Will give this a go, thanks!

      1. “Classic tartar sauce” was always made with cream of tartar. I know I am dating myself but it really does add a unique taste and acidity. I do not see any recipes for it now and I wonder why.

  16. I,’m a devoted follower of your recipes. Tried many and every one came out perfectly great. Now I an going to make tartar sauce from your recipe. I made some before and it was OK but was missing something. Pickle juice?????. I will try this one of yours. Thanks for every recipe I have of yours. Carole

  17. Made this for years and years. Had a backyard full of neighborhood friends grilling fresh fish many years ago in Idaho. Guests raved about my tarter sauce. Wanted the recipe but I told them it was an old secret family recipe and couldn’t give it out to anyone upon penalty of death! (Not true…but it was all in fun and I ended up telling them how I made it.