The Best Tartar Sauce For Fish And Other Seafood

By:

Meathead

smoked mullet at starfish

If you like tartar sauce then you’ll love this home made version.

Tartar Sauce, or sauce tartare as it was originally called in France, has been around a long time. It is in the same family as Italian aioli (garlicy mayo), or French sauce remoulade (mayo, herbs, capers, cornichons, and anchovies), both oil and egg based sauces. Thought to be named after the Tartars, Mongolian conquerers who roamed what is now Russia and its neighbors in the 5th century, the recipe hasn’t changed much over the years.

According to Foodtimeline.org “sauces made with eggs, oil, vinegar, and spices date back to Medieval times, a tradition carried over from Ancient Roman cookery. These recipes were not called tartar sauce but are unmistakably similar to the sauce we know today.”

Above, that’s smoked mullet from the Star Fish Company Seafood Market in Cortez, FL, north of Bradenton. Below is smoked mullet from the famous Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish in St. Petersburg.

ted peters smoked mullet

Tartar Sauce Recipe For Fish And Other Seafood


tartar sauce
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
3.18 from 23 votes
Tartar sauce is classic as a dipping sauce for fish, but you can slather it on the fish before you grill. It doesn't melt off and helps seal in moisture. It is also great for dipping French fries (in Belgium and other much of France, they never use ketchup), fried shrimp, fried chicken, even broccoli, and as a base for egg salad.

Serve with: seafood and a citrus IPA.


Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American, Southern
Difficulty: Moderate

Makes:

Servings: 1 cup

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onion tops
  • 2 green onion bottoms
  • 1 tablespoon pickle relish (or chopped sweet pickles)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole grain or coarse ground mustard
  • a few drops hot sauce, more if you wish
  • Morton kosher salt
  • finely ground black pepper
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Options. I recommend you make it by the recipe the first time, and then you can riff on it the second time. If you wish, you can use lime juice, vinegar, or pickle juice instead of lemon juice. A splash of malt vinegar is nice and while you're at it, try a splash or Worcestershire sauce. If you don't like capers, you can substitute cornichons, or just forget about them. Finely minced celery is a nice addition. You can use sweet gherkins for the pickles, sweet pickle slices, you can use sweet pickle relish, dill pickle relish, or even finely minced cornichons. Dijon-style mustard can be swapped for the whole grain mustard. Skip the hot sauce if you like, add more if you like, or use red pepper flakes or chipotle powder if you like. I think tarragon is essential, it really compliments fish. If you can get fresh tarragon, use 1 1/2 teaspoons. Dill is a nice substitute. I love Miracle Whip, but it is too sweet for this recipe, IMHO.

Method

  • Prep. Chop the green onion tops and bottoms to create approximately 1 tablespoon of each.
  • Finely chop the capers.
  • Mix everything together in a bowl and scoop it into a jar.
  • Chill. Let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours if you can to allow the oil to extract the flavor from the tarragon.
  • Serve. Serve with your favorite fish, otherwise it will keep for months in the fridge.

Related articles

Published On: 2/16/2015 Last Modified: 3/26/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and much more!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Click for comments...

Spotlight

These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs



Surely you know somebody who loves outdoor cooking who deserves a gift for the holidays, birthday, anniversary, or just for being wonderful. There he is, right in the mirror! Here are our selections of best ideas, all Platinum or Gold Medalists, listed by price.

Click here to see our list of Gold Medal Gifts


Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet’s Dual Tube Burners


The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King’s proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Click here to read our complete review


Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker


This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp’s dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin’.

Click here to read our detailed review


Compact Powerful Sear Machine For Your Next Tailgater


Char-Broil’s Grill2Go x200 is a super-portable, fun little sizzler made of heavy, rust-proof cast aluminum. The lid snaps shut. Grab the handle and you’re off to the party! Char-Broil’s TRU-Infrared design produces searing heat while reducing fuel consumption. A 16 ounce LP gas canister is enough to keep you flipping burgers for hours.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker


Green Mountain’s portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it’s also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


The Undisputed Champion!


 
The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. The MK4 includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight and rotating display. Don’t accept cheap substitutes.
Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review


The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy


The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them