This is the BEST recipe for homemade tartar sauce, perfect for serving with fried seafood, crab cakes, salmon burgers, fish sandwiches, and more! This tartar sauce features chopped dill pickles (and pickle juice instead of lemon), honey for a touch of sweetness, soy sauce for a punch of umami, and freshness from dill and green onions.
I celebrated my second vaccination dose (YAY!) this week with my first fried clams of the year. They were great, but boy was the tartar sauce lacking. Too thick to dip, and it tasted like straight up mayo without any depth of flavor. And I realized: I haven’t shared a homemade tartar sauce recipe yet!
Homemade tartar sauce is SO much better than what you’ll usually find at restaurants or in a bottle. This version is packed with interesting flavor and texture. It’s the perfect thickness for dipping, but not so thin that you can’t spread it thickly on a fish sandwich or salmon burger.
Sweet relish is often used in tartar sauce, but I opted instead for chopped dill pickles (which are nice and crunchy!) and added honey for sweetness (prepared relish often has lots of preservatives and added sugars). I used pickle juice instead of the more traditional lemon juice (because who wants to cut into a whole lemon for just 1 teaspoon?). And soy sauce adds a delicious salty umami punch. Add in the fresh dill and chopped green onions and you’ve got yourself a super flavorful homemade tartar sauce that’s guaranteed to beat any other version!
Ingredients in homemade tartar sauce (and substitutions)
- Mayonnaise – I recommend the full-fat, real stuff here. But if you really want to, you can use low fat mayo or Miracle Whip.
- Dill pickles – I recommend the refrigerated kind (I used Claussen), which are usually crunchier and contain more natural ingredients. You can also use relish if you like – see more on that below. Sweet pickles may be used as well – omit the honey if you do this.
- Pickle juice – you can use lemon juice if you like, but since you only need 1 teaspoon, I thought it was easier to just dive into the pickle jar rather than cut open a whole lemon for some added acidity to the sauce.
- Green onions – feel free to use very finely chopped red or other onion instead if you like.
- Fresh dill – fresh is best here, but you can use 1 teaspoon dried dill if you don’t have fresh. Parsley also works.
- Honey – this adds a sweet touch that any good tartar sauce would be lost without. You can use sugar if you prefer.
- Soy sauce – this adds a salty punch of umami. Many other recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, which can be used in this recipe too – I just never have any around and don’t like buying too many condiments, and thought soy sauce worked really well here instead.
- Black pepper
How to make homemade tartar sauce
Just mix together mayonnaise, chopped dill pickles, green onions, fresh dill, honey, soy sauce, pickle juice, and black pepper in a large bowl.
Then, I recommend covering and refrigerating it for at least 30 minutes to allow all the flavors to marry. Otherwise, the sauce may taste too much like just mayo.
Can I use relish instead of chopped pickles?
Sure! I prefer chopped pickles for their crunch and better ingredients, but using relish will definitely save you some time. If you use it, I recommend only half a cup, and omitting the added pickle juice. If you use dill relish, add the honey to sweeten. With sweet relish, omit the honey.
How long does homemade tartar sauce stay good for in the fridge?
You can keep this homemade tartar sauce in an airtight container in your fridge for about two weeks. The ingredients may separate a bit- if they do, just give it a stir.
Can I make it vegan?
Definitely! Use a vegan substitute for mayonnaise and use sugar instead of honey.
What to serve with tartar sauce
- Use as a spread on salmon burgers
- Serve on blackened shrimp tacos
- Make fish sandwiches with oven fried catfish and tartar sauce as a spread
- Serve with crab cakes or salmon croquettes
- Use as a dip for fish sticks, fried oysters, fried shrimp, or other dippable seafood recipes
- For a vegetarian/vegan option, use as a dip for fried oyster mushrooms
Other homemade sauces and condiments
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Homemade Tartar Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 green onions very thinly sliced, dark and light green parts
- 1 cup finely chopped dill pickles (or relish, see notes)
- 1 teaspoon dill pickle juice or lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and/or parsley
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (gluten free if needed)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- For best results, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Serve with fried seafood, on a fish sandwich, with crab cakes or salmon patties, or use as a spread on sandwiches.
- Homemade tartar sauce will stay good in the fridge for about two weeks. Make sure to store it in an airtight container. Ingredients may separate a bit – if they do, just stir it up before serving.
- Sweet or dill relish may be used instead of pickles. Use less of it – around 1/2 cup, and omit the pickle juice. And if using sweet relish, omit the honey.
- Chopped sweet pickles or bread and butter pickles can be used in place of dill – omit the honey in this case.
- Other ingredient substitutions: sugar may be used instead of honey, finely chopped onion can be used in place of green onion, Worcestershire sauce may be used instead of soy sauce.