Tartar sauce, from the French sauce tartare, has become such a staple condiment, it’s hard to imagine enjoying fried foods – fried seafood in particular – without it!
It’s super easy to throw together but for a truly great tartar sauce we need to achieve that perfect balance of piquancy without it being too tart or too sweet. For that reason I like to supplement some of the mayonnaise with creme fraiche or sour cream for a lighter, fresher flavor and texture along with fresh lemon juice; I also use dill pickles instead of sweet bread-and-butter pickles to avoid the too-sweet flavor you often find in fast food/takeout tartar sauces. Another great choice is cornichons, which provide an even crunchier texture than dill pickles. The capers provide that perfect touch of brininess, the Dijon mellows it out a touch, and the parsley adds a hint of fresh pepperiness. You can also add some fresh chopped dill which pairs superbly with fried fish. Some other ingredients I like to add on occasion to change things up are finely chopped olives and/or a touch of horseradish. Experiment and find the combination that you like best.
To make tartar sauce you simply stir all the ingredients together in a bowl and let the sauce chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. The longer the better because the flavors will intensify. And in the end you’ll have the best homemade tartar sauce!
What do you serve tartar sauce with? Here are a few ideas to get you started: It’s perfect for fried fish, clams, shrimp, calamari, oysters, boiled lobster, fried chicken tenders, hushpuppies, French fries, zucchini fries, onion rings, fried green tomatoes, added to burgers and sandwiches, tuna salad, ham salad, egg salad, on baked potatoes and even with potato chips!
Best Homemade Tartar Sauce
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed/drained and roughly chopped
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (fresh dill is also a great option for seafood)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (option)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped olives (optional)
- 1 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
- Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and stir to combine. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving. The longer the better as the flavors improve over time.