Old Fashioned Tartar Sauce Recipe {Simple + From Scratch}

Looking for a delicious and easy tartar sauce recipe? Look no further!

You’ll love this old-fashioned tartar sauce recipe because it’s quick to make, adaptable to your tastes, and delicious with any fried seafood.

small mason jar of homemade tartar sauce with fried shrimp in background

Homemade Tartar Sauce Recipe

A simple tartar sauce recipe that can be adapted for what you have on hand.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Serving Size 12 servings


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup dill relish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  • Spoon into individual ramekins before serving.


Substitutions are fine! If you don’t have lemon juice, substitute white vinegar If you don’t have shallot, substitute onion If you don’t have dill relish, substitute a finely chopped dill pickle
Good additions include minced fresh parsley, fresh dill, minced garlic, dijon mustard, and capers.
fresh parsley next to jar of old fashioned tartar sauce

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

Best tartar sauce. Homemade tartar sauce is super simple to make and tastes way better than storebought.

Flexible. Some things require precision in the kitchen, and some things don’t. Tartar sauce is one of those wonderfully flexible condiments in which a lot of things will work well. As long as you have a well-seasoned mayonnaise base with plenty of acidic flavoring, it will be tasty and be the perfect balance to rich or fried seafood.

Easy to make. It’s so easy to make and so fresh tasting. Definitely worth the very little effort that it takes. It takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

mayonnaise, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon juice in small bowls on white wood background

You’ll need the following for this tartar sauce:

  • mayonnaise (full fat!)
  • dill relish or chopped dill pickles (homemade relish is great, but storebought is fine)
  • fresh lemon juice
  • shallot (or onion!)
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh parsley
  • medium sized bowl
  • spatula


Step One: combine all ingredients

glass bowl with all tartar sauce ingredients before mixing

Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Step Two: refrigerate

bowl covered in plastic wrap

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For serving, spoon the sauce into individual bowls or ramekins.

🥫 Storage instructions

Tartar sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week. It does not freeze well at all (sorry!)

🔍 FAQs

What is tartar sauce made of?

Usually mayonnaise, pickles, capers, lemon juice, and herbs. Some recipes will include sour cream, Worcheshire sauce, and yellow mustard.

What do you serve tartar sauce with?

What do you serve tartar sauce with? Seafood, especially fried seafood. It goes perfectly with fish and chips, crab cakes, salmon cakes, or fried shrimp. But don’t be shy: you can dip your french fries in it or spoon it on top of roasted veggies.

Do I really need to make it ahead?

It’s best if you do, but not the end of the world if you can’t.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Start with quality ingredients. Use real mayonnaise and high-quality pickles or relish.
  • Mix it up. Experiment with different herbs and spices to find the perfect tartar sauce for your palate.
  • Make sure you chill the sauce before serving. You really want the flavors to have time to blend.
  • Taste before you serve. If it seems bland, add more seasoning. Easy!

📘 Related Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

fried fish sticks and 3 small white bowls of tartar sauce


The most important part of this recipe (or really any other), is balance. You are beginning with a base of mayonnaise, and likely using this sauce for fried food To balance out all that heaviness, we need acid.

  • No lemon juice? Use vinegar or dill pickle juice.
  • No dill relish? Chop up some dill pickles. (Or even bread and butter pickles)
  • No shallot? A finely chopped onion will work just fine.

You can also add things to this base recipe for more flavor.

Good additions include minced fresh parsley, fresh dill, minced fresh garlic, dijon mustard, and capers. Have a seasoning you love, like lemon pepper or Cajun seasoning? Throw it in there! Or add cayenne for a little spice.

Old Fashioned Tartar Sauce Recipe {Simple + From Scratch}

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