Tartar sauce and tilapia on board with dill, plates and forks

World’s Best Tartar Sauce

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am not a fan of seafood. I want to be…I just can’t do it. So I suffer through Lent and choke down fish (the mildest kinds I can find) and shrimp (only when it’s fried golden brown or breaded and plunged into a vat of hot oil) knowing that experts tell me I should eat it more regularly. Strangely, despite my aversion to all things from the sea, I love the sauces that were made for them. Cocktail, spicy mustard, hollandaise, and especially tartar. But not just any tartar. My tartar.

Typically, I find it too fatty, too bland, or too sweet. Not mine. It was a condiment we used every day at the restaurant, and it is still one of my favorites. My cooks knew upon finishing a recipe it was required that I taste it and sign off on the flavor. After all, it was my name on the line. When the garde manger cook brought me a spoonful of tartar to taste each time a new batch was prepped, I would inevitably holler across the kitchen, “More lemon! More pickle!” Now that I make it at home, I have been able to update the recipe accordingly.

Keep reading to see the world’s best tartar sauce recipe!

The hubs says I put too much lemon in everything. Maybe true, but it’s so refreshing and delicious. All the same, if you don’t like a lot of lemon, cut it back to one in the recipe, although I don’t recommend it!

This makes quite a large batch of tartar sauce, but I make it at the beginning of Lent and use it through Easter. It has quite a bit of staying power in the fridge. I also use it to make tuna salad on the fly (just mix your desired amount with some drained, canned tuna for a quick lunch in the office) or fold in the leftover chopped meat from a rotisserie chicken and serve it with baguette slices or crackers for a 4:00pm happy hour snack (with a glass of chilled, dry white wine, of course).

I’ve even been known, on occasion, to sneak some into a restaurant to enjoy with a big ol’ platter of fried fish…which is what I’ll be doing this weekend. Ssshh…it’ll be our little secret.

Whatever you do with it, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

World’s Best Tartar Sauce

Recipe by CandaceCourse: Sauces and SidesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Makes about


Prep time



This tartar sauce is easy and delicious. It’s full of pickles, herbs and lemon and goes with any simply grilled, broiled, seared or fried fish or seafood. I recommend making this at least a day ahead – it gets better with time!


  • 2 cups chopped dill pickle – use good ones that you get in the refrigerated section

  • 3 tbsp chopped capers

  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion, from about 1 bunch

  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill, lightly packed

  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, lightly packed

  • juice and zest of 2 lemons

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

  • 3-1/2 cups mayo, preferably Hellman’s or Duke’s

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp (2-1/2 grams) salt


  • Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Fold gently to combine.


  • This is a lot of chopping. I like the monotonous work of using my knife skills. If you don’t or are too slow and don’t have the time, feel free to combine the first six ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Then proceed with step one above.
  • Zest the lemons first, before you juice them. It may seem like common sense but I have seen cooks try to juice them first…!
  • Keep a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie in the kitchen for quick and easy labeling!
  • DO NOT use curly parsley. You may have to look a little harder to get the flat-leaf (Italian) parsley but it’s worth it. The curly parsley has no flavor and was used for plate garnishing in the 1980’s. Flat-leaf parsley is delicious and adds a robust, fresh flavor to any dish.
  • I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, in the big red box. If you can, purchase it at Amazon or Walmart. If not, I recommend weighing your salt to get accurate results. The volume of salt can vary by as much as 75% by weight so it can make a HUGE difference to your recipe.
  • A quick note about the fish: I like to season it heavily with salt, pepper, a little ancho chile powder and some cornmeal, which gives it a delightful crunch. When searing, get the pan hot first, then add the oil, let that just start to smoke and add fish to pan. Add it carefully, placing the heaviest part of the fish (or chicken, or steak, or whatever else you might sear in a hot pan) in the part of the pan nearest to you. Then, slowly let the filet down as you are dropping it away from you. This will minimize the opportunity to burn yourself.


  1. This looks delish! We’re having fish ‘n chips today for St. Patrick’s day! Can you use dried dill? It’s all I have on hand.

    • Hi Jean!
      I suppose you could use dried dill. But it just won’t taste the same. The freshness of the dill is what, in my opinion, makes this tartar stand out above the rest. You can try it with dried – but cut way back on the amount! Maybe only a teaspoon or two to start and add by flavor. Let me know how it goes!

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