The Best Homemade Tartar Sauce Recipe

Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Anne-Marie

Once you make this homemade tartar sauce recipe, you'll never go back to the jarred stuff again.

A glass jar of Tartar Sauce with sliced lemons, fresh dill, a spoon, and black and white napkin.

There's nothing like a classic good tartar sauce with your favorite fish recipes at the dinner table.

This is a basic recipe. You also have options of adding or substituting ingredients you may not want.

What's tartar sauce?

Tartar sauce (also spelled “tarter” or “tartare”) is a tangy, mayonnaise-based condiment that's French in origin. It's been used on food since the 1800s.

Some versions of this old fashioned tartar sauce recipe are made with chopped pickles, caper berries, and herbs like dill weed and tarragon. Some recipes use other ingredients like lemon juice and olives.

Most people serve it with fried seafood dishes like crab cakes and fish sticks. You can also use it on grilled or fried fish fillets.

Many of us grew up eating it on the classic McDonald's Filet-O-Fish Sandwich. I think that's one of my favorite fast food orders just because of the tartar sauce!

A spoon dipping in a glass jar of tartar sauce with lemons and fresh dill.

How to make the best homemade tartar sauce recipe

This easy homemade tartar sauce recipe takes only 10 minutes to make!

1. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, pickles, dill, and lemon juice together.

2. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

3. Stir to combine.

4. Serve immediately or refrigerate for an hour to let the ingredients meld.

5. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Overhead view of mixing bowl of tartar sauce with whisk, spatula, fresh dill, a ramekin of salt, a small glass bowl, and a blue kitchen towel.

What else can I add to this easy tartar sauce recipe?

This simple recipe is super basic, but you can add optional ingredients like:

  • capers
  • Dijon mustard
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • finely diced white onions
  • sweet pickle relish (instead of the dill pickles)
  • finely chopped fresh parsley (in addition to or instead of the dill)
  • chopped tarragon
  • a dash of hot sauce for a little kick
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
  • a tiny bit of onion powder or garlic powder

As you add new ingredients, give it a taste. Maybe a pinch of this or a dash of that is needed. This recipe is oh-so versatile.

A glass jar filled with homemade tartar sauce, a bunch of fresh dill, lemons, a spoon, a whisk, and a black and white cloth napkin.

How long does it keep?

The homemade tartar sauce should be kept in airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last for a month or two.

If you've added ingredients with dairy, like sour cream or Greek yogurt, it will only last a couple of weeks.

Since it's such a small batch, you'll probably end up using the jar of tartar sauce before then.

How to serve this sauce

Tartar sauce goes well with:

And yes, some people even use it as grilled steak sauce!

Overhead view of a glass jar filled with homemade tartar sauce, fresh dill, sliced and whole lemons, and a black and white cloth napkin.

It's all about the pickles!

Use a Vivaant Food Chopper to chop up the pickles (and herbs) in no time.

You can use sweet pickles instead of dill pickles if you prefer a sweeter tartar sauce. Or use sweet relish as a time saver.

Can you use Wicked Pickles in this homemade version of tartar sauce? I don't see why not. They're awesome pickles. It would give this simple recipe the best flavor.

In a pinch you can use butter pickles, too.

Use dill pickle relish to save time instead of chopping up the dill pickles. Dill relish is another time saver!

What about the mayo?

Use your favorite mayonnaise brand in this classic tartar sauce recipe. I know some folks insist on brands like Hellman’s or Duke’s. Me? I love a good olive oil mayo, but don’t care who makes it.

Make your own homemade mayonnaise? Please use that!

Vegan? Use your favorite vegan brand of mayo. Then try this zesty tartar sauce on roasted vegetables or your favorite vegan dishes.

If you don't like mayo, you can use Miracle Whip, plain Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, or sour cream instead. Or try a combination!

You can also add Greek yogurt or sour cream to give the tartar sauce a little more thickness and body.

Closeup of a jar of tartar sauce with spoon, lemon, and fresh dill.

More tips for making the best tartar sauce

No fresh lemon juice? You can use bottled instead. I won't tell, I swear.

You can also substitute lime juice for lemon juice if needed. Or use a little of both.

If you feel the sauce is too thick, add a little of the leftover pickle juice or a teaspoon of white wine vinegar to thin it out.

You can use kosher salt, sea salt, or Hawaiian salt instead of regular table salt. They're all good.

Yield: MAKES 1 CUP

Homemade Tartar Sauce Recipe

Closeup of a jar of tartar sauce with spoon, lemon, and fresh dill.

Use this homemade tartar sauce recipe on your favorite seafood dishes. This best tartar sauce can be made in 10 minutes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, pickles, dill, and lemon juice.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

2 tablespoons

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 285mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

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