How to Make Tartar Sauce

By Lamar Grey

For picky eaters who find seafood too pungent, tartar sauce can offset the distinct taste. And the sauce's acidic tanginess effectively cuts through the richness of fish. You can prepare this classic condiment in many ways, from a straightforward two-ingredient version to a more sophisticated incarnation seasoned with herbs and spices that complement your main course. All tartar sauces benefit from sitting in the refrigerator overnight, which allows the flavors to commingle, yielding a more cohesive and vibrant sauce.

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Basic Sauce


Step 1

Mix 4 parts mayonnaise and 1 to 2 parts pickle relish to taste in a bowl with a whisk or fork. Substitute light mayonnaise or a mayonnaise alternative, if desired. Choose sweet pickle relish for a classic sauce, or use dill pickle relish for a daring flavor.


Step 2

Whisk lemon juice into the mixture for a more acidic sauce. The volume of lemon juice should be about a quarter to half the volume of the pickle relish, depending on your taste.


Step 3

Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.


Step 4

Cover and refrigerate the sauce.

Sophisticated Sauce


Step 5

Prepare a mayonnaise base first by combining egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Determine the number of egg yolks based on one large yolk per approximate finished cup of mayonnaise. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for every egg yolk. Blend until the mixture becomes consistent and smooth.


Step 6

Stream canola or olive oil slowly into the running blender, using one cup per desired cup of mayonnaise.


Step 7

Blend the mixture until it becomes off-white, thick and creamy.


Step 8

Chop sweet, bread-and-butter or dill pickles to make a finely diced relish.


Step 9

Mix 1 to 2 parts relish with 4 parts mayonnaise in a bowl with a whisk or fork.


Step 10

Season the sauce with Dijon mustard, or minced red onion, shallots, garlic, capers, parsley or tarragon, if desired. Add 2 or more teaspoons total of any seasoning combination to taste for every 1 cup of sauce.


Step 11

Season the tartar sauce with salt and pepper to taste.