Classic Tartar Sauce

16 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

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.


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

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 ½ the amount of lemon juice.
  • Instead of minced onion, use ½ 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

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!
Yield 16 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


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


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


Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 103mg | Potassium: 3mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Calcium: 1mg

Tartar Sauce with homemade fish sticks

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I made a half recipe, using onion powder instead of fresh onion. We liked this version way better than with fresh onion. It’s really amazing how simple fresh tarter sauce can be to make.

  2. I live near Tallahassee Florida and years ago there was a cafeteria (Morrisons) which I dearly loved. My favorite was their trout almodine or fried shrimp. But I think what I really liked was their tartar sauce? It was so good! I know that it had a small amount of bell pepper, green cabbage, onion and mayo. I have found it as a copy cat recipe and it is almost identical. I love all of your recipes and think you are one of my favorites. Thank you

  3. This is fantastic! I used dried minced onions, added pepper and some dill. YUM!!! I’ll never buy tartar sauce again.

  4. I have been looking in stores for a decent tartar sauce for year and have never found one that I liked so I have always opted to only use lemon on my fish. There was only one restaurant that I will eat their tartar sauce as it was the best I have ever had. This is almost identical. I will be making this from now on. No more wasting my money on something I would end up tossing it in the garbage :).

  5. I make a similar sauce. I use pickle relish and a squeeze of lemon juice. I also add some dried mustard and Old Bay seasoning. Really, there is no need to buy tartar sauce.

  6. This was so good and I too will never buy tartar sauce again! I halved all the amounts Just in case I didn’t like it. I only added 1 tbsp sriracha because I like spicy tartar sauce. YUM on a shrimp flatbread taco.

    1. Try some Worcestershire, dash or two. I also use sweet pickle relish, dry minced onion. I never buy bottle sauce as most folks have these ingredients on hand.

  7. We live 30 miles to the closest store & I forgot tarter sauce for tonight’s supper. I just made this and it is delicious! I used dill relish, pickle juice, dried minced onions & a dash of onion powder. I won’t be buying store bought relish anymore.

  8. Very quick and very easy!! Love this recipe. It was very good but I added a little sweet relish just to have that little bit of sweet. Thanks for the recipe!!

  9. Hey there I haven’t made this yet but I am wondering if I can use dried minced onion or does it have to be fresh??


    1. Hi Lana, sorry for the delay in replying. Sure you could use dried, just let it sit so it can hydrate. I wouldn’t stress it, it will still be delicious.

    1. This does not qualify as tartar sauce! This is a sauce you can put on your fish sticks but it has no semblance to tartar sauce.

      You have so many great recipes but this one is not good and not right. Sorry!

  10. It had been such along time since I had made Tarter sauce. Your recipe was just what I wanted. Thanks

  11. I tried your recipe then added some other ingredients like a squeeze of lemon, a dash of dried dill and a splash of malt vinegar. I also amped up the amounts of pickle, onion and pickle juice. Delish! So flavorful!!!

  12. This was good, but I, personally, like the addition of capers. It makes it taste authentic. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  13. I’m sorry, the cream of tartar was what I was commenting on! lol Cream of tartar is still used in Snickerdoodle recipe.

  14. My wife said this is the best Tartar Sauce she’s ever had. I agree.

    You can add a little more minced dill pickle and pickle juice, which I did, and it’s even better.

    For those who have Miracle Whip on hand, instead of mayonnaise, Miracle Whip works just as well.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    1. Tablespoon is not a proper noun ergo is not to be capitalized. I am not a yellow mustard kind of person. Can I get away with other types of mustard?

        1. Recipe is great. Also Tablespoon in recipes is always capitalized and teaspoon is not . Has nothing to do with proper nouns, makes it easier to distinguish between the two while reading a recipe. That is proper usage for writing measurements in recipes.

          1. Thanks Amanda, I will definitely take that into consideration. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe too.

      1. Mike your comment in 2020 regarding capital T… what the woman said on this subject is capital T means tablespoon and lower case t means teaspoon… this is absolutely correct. Maybe you never heard of this before but it makes reading a recipe simple. Regardless if you are from West coast or Midwest America we can share and read each other’s recipe.

        1. I’ve seen recipes written both ways. It only really matters when the recipe only uses the single letter “T” to signify the units. If it bothers you how someone else likes to write their recipes, just carefully rewrite it on your own recipe card before you make it.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

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

  20. 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!

    2. Because some people don’t like cocktail sauce! That’s why I am looking at a recipe for tartar sauce!

    3. Usually when i look for a shrimp sauce recipe i search, shrimp sauce and not tartar sauce! Crazy thought!!!
      Thanks for another amazing recipe! I find when i buy tartar sauce i use it once and it sits in the fridge and expires, not this!! Was all gone by the end of dinner! Will be using this for now on. And how far you go wrong with these simple ingredients?!? This is a winner!! Thankyou!!

  21. 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…

  22. 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!!!!

  23. 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.

  24. 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!!!

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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 ?

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

    1. Gentle suggestion, well pat you on the back . Couldn’t you find anything (GOOD) about her recipe????

    2. Thank you Glenda my sentiments EXACTLY! About to try the tartar sauce now. Thanks so much for this easy recipe!!

    1. I love Old Bay but have never seen it in a liquid form. I am going to search Amazon and see if I can get it. Thanks!

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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.