Tartar sauce is a condiment used to complement seafood dishes, whether they be fried, baked, steamed or grilled.
The flavor of the sauce combines tartness from the lemon juice and capers that are added to mayonnaise to create its signature taste.
Although tartar sauce is most commonly used for fish and chips, it can also be used as a dip or as a spread for burgers and sandwiches.
If you find yourself without this flavorful condiment on hand, there are five excellent substitutes to choose from.
Read on to learn more about what alternatives you can use if you’re out of tartar sauce.
What is Tartar Sauce?
Tartar sauce is a condiment made from mayonnaise, pickles, and other ingredients.
It is a popular accompaniment to seafood, particularly fried seafood dishes.
Made with sour cream or yogurt, it has a tangy flavor that complements many types of food.
It is also used to add flavor to sandwiches and burgers.
The origins of the condiment are unclear but some suggest that it was created in the 1800s when tartar cooks working on ocean-going ships combined leftover mayonnaise, olive oil and lemon juice in order to make a tasty condiment for their meals.
Regardless of its source, it is an essential contribution to fried seafood dishes which most people find difficult to do without.
How to Make and Serve Tartar Sauce?
Tartar sauce is a condiment that originated in Europe during the 19th century.
It is a classic accompaniment to fish dishes, but it can be used as an all-purpose dip or spread.
Contemporary tartar sauce typically consists of few ingredients: mayonnaise or a mayonnaise-type dressing, sweet pickle relish, onion, capers and lemon juice.
These ingredients are usually combined with some form of acidity such as vinegar or more lemon juice to add flavor and brightness.
Tartar sauce can be served chilled, at room temperature or warm.
Tartar sauce has numerous variations within itself which include spicier options with diced jalapenos or chipotles, cucumber-based options that skip the mayo and cream-based options with sour cream instead of mayo.
The modern version of tartar sauce pairs particularly well with seafood dishes such as fish and shrimp but can also be used on sandwiches to add extra flavor and texture.
5 Best Tartar Sauce Substitutes You Should Consider
If you find yourself without tartar sauce, there are a variety of excellent alternatives that will fill the void.
Whether you require a vegan or gluten-free tartar sauce substitute, are looking for a healthy alternative, or simply don’t care for tartar sauce and want to get creative in the kitchen, here are 5 outstanding substitutes for tartar sauce worth considering:
1 – Garlic Aioli
Garlic aioli is a blend of garlic, olive oil, lemon, and egg yolks – similar to mayonnaise with an added kicker of garlic.
This makes for a rich and flavorful sauce that serves as a great tartar sauce substitute.
It’s often served with fish, French fries, and roasted vegetables.
To make garlic aioli at home you’ll need the following ingredients: 2 large egg yolks, 2 cloves of minced garlic (adjust according to your liking), 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or vinegar), 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup olive oil (or canola or vegetable oil if preferred).
In a small bowl whisk together minced garlic, egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard and salt until it forms a smooth paste.
Slowly drizzle in the combined oils while you continue whisking the mixture until it thickens nicely.
Now you have your own version of homemade garlic aioli.
Enjoy it on all sorts of dishes needing an extra kick.
2 – Remoulade Sauce
Remoulade sauce is a French condiment, traditionally made with mayonnaise, mustard and herbs.
It is popularly served with fish – particularly chevda, a traditional British dish – or on fried seafood such as crab cakes.
There are many variations of this dish, but it typically contains mayonnaise, dijon mustard, capers, shallots and pickles.
For an extra kick add a dash of Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce.
Some recipes also call for horseradish to really make the flavor pop.
Remoulade Sauce is like tartar sauce’s more complex cousin – it carries much more depth in its flavors than standard tartar sauce without sacrificing any of the creamy texture.
3 – Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki is a creamy yogurt-cucumber dip that dates back centuries to its roots in Greek cuisine.
It’s made by combining strained Greek yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and fresh dill with salt and pepper for seasoning.
Unlike tartar sauce, tzatziki does not contain any mayo or pickles but it does have the same savory flavor profile.
This sauce makes a great accompaniment to grilled vegetables, fish tacos and oven-baked fries.
It’s also a great option if you’re looking for a lighter alternative to tartar sauce in your favorite seafood dishes.
4 – Thousand Island Dressing
Thousand island dressing is a creamy condiment made of mayo, ketchup, pickle relish and sometimes hard-boiled eggs.
This condiment can often be found in the salad dressing aisle at your local supermarket and while it doesn’t have the same briny punch as tartar sauce, it will still make an acceptable substitute.
Thousand island dressing is also considered a key ingredient for making classic Reuben sandwiches.
5 – Sriracha Mayo Sauce
Sriracha mayo sauce is a simple, flavorful combination of some pantry staples that creates a great tartar sauce alternative.
This spicy condiment adds a nice kick to fish and chips, salads, sandwiches and wraps.
To make it, mix together 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of Sriracha hot sauce.
If you like things a bit spicier, add an extra tablespoon or two of Sriracha.
Mix everything together until it is uniformly blended and enjoy.
Classic tartar sauce recipes include ingredients like mayonnaise, mustard, capers, sour pickles, and spices.
While this condiment is widely available in many parts of the world, it can sometimes be difficult to find – or you just don’t have any on hand.
Each one of these substitute options are delicious alternatives to tartar sauce.
When selecting your favorite option, be sure to adjust the amounts of ingredients based on your personal taste preferences.
So next time you run out of tartar sauce don’t worry; simply refer back to this guide and make one of these tasty alternatives.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is tartar sauce?
Tartar sauce is a condiment typically made of mayonnaise, chopped pickles or onions, and capers.
What are the 5 best substitutes for tartar sauce?
The 5 best substitutes for tartar sauce are aioli, remoulade, Thousand Island dressing, Greek yogurt sauce and horseradish sauce.
What are the ingredients of tartar sauce?
The ingredients for tartar sauce typically include mayonnaise, chopped pickles or onions, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and sometimes Worcestershire sauce.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!