Nothing beats a bite of fried fish and a dollop of homemade tartar sauce. And this tartar sauce is easily our favorite. It’s bright, briny and very herby—all of which pair well with just about any kind of fish or seafood. 

What is Tartar Sauce

Tartar sauce is a classic condiment traditionally served with fried fish. It’s most often made by combining mayonnaise, capers, minced dill pickle, onions or shallots, vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs. Occasionally olives are thrown in, but we usually opt out of that.

Why This Recipe Works

Our version stays pretty true to the classic, with a few elevated swaps. First, we swap regular mayo for olive oil mayo because we like the flavor and the fact that it’s slightly healthier. 

Instead of dill pickle, we use minced cornichons which add a bit more tang. And lastly, we use a combo of dill and basil, because in our opinion, the more herbs the merrier. 

tartar sauce in a glass bowl with an orange spatula set in it

Tartar Sauce Ingredients


We like to use olive oil mayonnaise or avocado oil mayonnaise, but feel free to use whatever you like best. To make this vegan, use a vegan mayonnaise such as Sir Kensington’s

Briny Ingredients

We like to use a combo of minced cornichons and capers. Cornichons add a bright tang while capers offer briny, saltiness. If you don’t have cornichons, feel free to use dill pickle. Find both cornichons and capers in the pickle/olive aisle. 


A splash of lemon juice is just needed. The bright tang pairs perfectly with any fish or seafood you serve the tartar sauce with. You can also use white wine vinegar, white vinegar or malt vinegar.


Most often, tartar sauce is made with a bit of dill. We stay true to that, but also add a bit of chopped basil. As always, if it isn’t fresh, we don’t want it. But in a pinch you can use a bit of dried dill. We don’t recommend using dried basil. 


It all depends on who’s making the sauce, but many people add a few dashes of Tabasco. It doesn’t make the sauce spicy, it just rounds out the flavors. 

Test Kitchen Tips

Test Kitchen Tips

  • Make this easy tartar sauce recipe a few times then feel free to mix it up and try out different ingredients. For instance, try adding a tablespoon of minced shallot or minced onion for a little onion-y note.
  • If you love dill, ramp up the amount to 2 teaspoons. 
  • Use leftover capers in our Sour Cream Potato Salad and Chicken Marbella.
  • Make it lighter by swapping some of the mayo for Greek yogurt.
  • We’ll sometimes add a bit of Dijon mustard for more tang and a slight spice.

Serve Tartar Sauce with These Recipes

shrimp burger on a whole-wheat bun layered with lettuce leaves, a tomato slice, sauce and avocado slices

Simple Homemade Tartar Sauce with Herbs

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 4 serving (⅔ cup)
Category Sauce/Condiment
Cuisine American


Our herby take on a classic fish and seafood sauce. Creamy, herby, bright and tangy.


  • ½ cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cornichons or dill pickle
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco + more to taste
  • kosher salt and black pepper


  • Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and additional Tabasco to taste.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.


Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To make vegan tartar sauce: use vegan mayonnaise such as Sir Kensington’s instead of olive oil mayonnaise.


Serving: 2.5tablespoonsCalories: 120kcalFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1.5gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 488mg
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tartar sauce in a small wooden bowl with a white glass spoon

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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