incredibly easy southern tartar sauce recipe.

Incredibly Easy Southern Tartar Sauce Recipe

Whether you are eating fish and chips, fish sticks, baked salmon, or even deep-fried catfish, tartar sauce is a classic condiment that compliments them all. There are a few versions of tartar sauce but our favorite is this incredibly easy southern tartar sauce recipe that you are going to love. 

Not only is Southern Tartar sauce an incredibly easy recipe to make, but it is cheap to make as well. Once you make your own tartar sauce you may never buy the bottled or jarred stuff ever again.

It only takes a few simple ingredients mixed together and you are ready to go. It truly is one of the best tartar sauce recipes you will find. Next time you are cooking up your favorite fish recipe, make sure to throw this southern tartar sauce recipe together.

What is Tartar Sauce?

Tartar sauce is a condiment that is made with a creamy base, usually from mayonnaise or an aioli base. 

It is a thick condiment of rough texture. It is mainly used with seafood dishes. Folks in the south like to dip their fish in it. There are a few versions of it from ones that are sweeter that use sweet dill relish, to a twangier version that uses lemon juice and dill pickles. 

According to The Food Dictator, Tartar sauce may have made its appearance in the mid-1800s. Either way, it is a very popular condiment that is enjoyed throughout the deep south and beyond. It would be hard pressed to go to a fish fry and not see this very popular condiment there.

What Do you Eat Southern Tartar Sauce on?

In the south, tartar sauce is mostly enjoyed on fried fish. Although this is not the only way to enjoy the sauce. It is true that it is great with most fish dishes such as grilled salmon, baked salmon, fish sticks, seafood dishes, crab cakes, Salmon burgers, shrimp dishes, and fish fillet sandwiches. 

This is a short list but there are some other items that are great with southern tartar sauce as well such as fresh vegetables. It is also great on roasted vegetables too. It is also used to top steak tartare and used in that dish as well. 

How to make Southern Tartar Sauce

What Ingredients Do I Need?

ingredient list to make southern tartar sauce recipe.

Mayonnaise

Tartar sauce can be either oil base or Mayo base. Since we are making a southern tartar sauce, this version will be mayo based. Let’s talk about the mayo now. Mayo is very subjective depending on where you grew up and what your relatives used.

up close picture of mayonnaise
Mayonnaise

Some use hellman’s mayo or even miracle whip to make tartar sauce. 

Throughout the south, Dukes Mayonnaise is very popular. Dukes Mayonnaise is tangier than other mayos you will find. Another great thing about Duke’s mayo is it originated right in my home state of South Carolina!

It is about the only Mayo many southerners will use and it is what we are going to use in this recipe. Don’t fret though If you cannot find it in your area you can use what you have. But if you can, I suggest using it. You will need 1 cup of mayonnaise.

Pickles

Again with tartar sauce, the pickles that are used are very subjective. Some recipes call for a sweet relish or dill pickle relish,  sweet pickles or dill pickles. There are many recipes that call for capers or even olives. We like our southern tartar sauce on the savory side so we are using Dill Pickles. You will need ¼ cup of dill pickles, roughly chopped. 

Mustard

Mustard gives the southern tartar sauce a clean, bright flavor. It adds a little bite to the dish and pairs well with the lemon juice we will be adding in as well. You can use whatever type of mustard you like but I tend to lean towards dijon mustard for this southern-style tartar sauce. 

Tartar sauce originated from France and using Dijon pays homage to its French roots, but that isn’t the only reason we think that Dijon is so great in this dish. The brown mustard seeds and the white wine that makeup dijon mustard adds a lot of dept to the southern tartar sauce recipe. You will need 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

Lemon Juice

I love adding lemon juice to this condiment recipe. Lemon juice adds freshness and acidity. The acid helps to cut through the fat of the mayo and helps round out the dish. Lemon is often added to fish to help mellow out the fishiness of the seafood and it can be a digestive aid. I prefer to use fresh lemon juice but you can use the bottled variety in a pinch. You will need 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. 

up close picture of lemons.
Lemons

Worchestershire Sauce

Worchestershire sauce hits that fifth taste sense called umami. It is one of the 5 basic tastes. It is savory and usually comes from sauces or meats. There isn’t much Worcestershire sauce in this recipe but it does not take much to make a difference. You will need ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. 

Dill Weed

Anytime you can add in fresh herbs, it brings a lot of flavors. Fresh Dill is one of the keynotes known in tartar sauce. Dill not only brings a ton of flavor, but it also adds a bit of color contrast. We all know that food that looks good is more appealing. If you do not have fresh you can also use dried dill weed. You will need 1 tablespoon of dill weed. 

up close picture of fresh dill weed sitting on a cutting board.
Fresh Dill Weed

Garlic

What is a condiment without fresh garlic in it? I like to add 1 clove of fresh minced garlic to my tartar sauce. 

Hot Sauce

Hot sauce adds a little bit of heat to the sauce by giving it a little kick. I like to add ½ teaspoon of Hot Sauce. I prefer Texas Pete or Franks Hot Sauce. 

Kosher or Sea Salt

Use sea salt or kosher salt if you can. Normal table salt has iodine in it and can give an off-taste. You will need ¼ teaspoon of salt. 

Pepper

I love the taste of pepper in this sauce. I think white pepper looks better in the dish but if you do not have it, or cannot find it, just use black pepper. You will need ¼ teaspoon of pepper.

Optional Ingredients: I love to add in some old bay seasoning or some cajun seasoning. Both can really elevate this condiment. You can also add in capers or even olives. Most recipes will also call for sweet onion or shallot. If you want to make it a thicker sauce with tangy flavors, add in some sour cream or even Greek Yogurt. Feel free to add in other herbs such as fresh chives or parsley.

Directions

Step 1: Add the mayonnaise into a small bowl. 

Step 2: Add in the rest of the ingredients. 

Step 3: If you have a hand mixer or food processor, these can work well to mix this condiment up. If not, just use a whisk or spoon, and mix the ingredients well until you get that perfect consistency.

Step 4: Refrigerate for a few hours before serving. 

incredibly easy southern tartar sauce recipe.

Incredible Easy Southern Tartar Sauce Recipe

Whether you are eating fish and chips, fish sticks, baked salmon, or even deep-fried catfish, tartar sauce is a classic condiment that compliments them all. There are a few versions of tartar sauce but our favorite is this incredibly easy southern tartar sauce recipe that you are going to love. 
Prep Time 15 mins
Course Seasoning
Cuisine Southern

Equipment

  • 1 Small Bowl
  • Hand mixer or food processor If you do not have either of these, you can use a whisk or spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dill pickles
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dill weed Use fresh dill if you can find it. If not just use dried dill weed.
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce I prefer to use Texas Pete or Franks Red Hot
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions
 

  • Step 1: Add the mayonnaise into a small bowl. 
  • Step 2: Add in the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Step 3: If you have a hand mixer or food processor, these can work well to mix this condiment up. If not, just use a whisk or spoon, and mix the ingredients well until you get that perfect consistency.
  • Step 4: Refrigerate for a few hours before serving. 

Video

Notes

Optional Ingredients:
I love to add in some old bay seasoning or some cajun seasoning. Both can really elevate this condiment. You can also add in capers or even olives. Most recipes will also call for sweet onion or shallot. If you want to make it a thicker sauce with tangy flavors, add in some sour cream or even Greek Yogurt. Feel free to add in other herbs such as fresh chives or parsley.
Keyword southern tartar sauce, tartar sauce recipe

FAQ’s

How can I Store Southern Tartar Sauce?

Store tartar sauce in an airtight container, such as a half pint size or pint size mason jar. It will last for up to six months in the airtight container. 

Southern Tartar Sauce Stored in a Mason Jar

How Do I Use Tartar Sauce?

Tartar sauce is used as a dipping sauce for fish, seafood, or vegetables. It is also used as a spread on fish sandwiches. 

Do I Have to Use Dill Pickles?

No. There are many options that you can use in place of Dill pickles. You can use sweet relish, sweet pickles, capers, or olives. Or you can use a combination of all of these. In my southern Tartar sauce recipe, I prefer the dill pickles but you can play around with different combinations to see what suits you. 

What is Tartar Sauce Usually Made Of?

Tartar sauce is usually made of a mayonnaise base or aioli base along with pickles, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. 

Is Tartar Sauce Just for Fish?

Absolutely not. Tartar sauce is great as a dip for fresh or roasted veggies. Also, you can dip your french fries or tater wedges in them. 

Why Is It Called Tartar Sauce?

Tartar sauce origins come from France. It was named after a region and the people that lived there named the tartars. 

What Can I Use if I Don’t have Tartar Sauce?

If you are looking for a dip for your fish, there are a few alternatives. At the very basic, ketchup can be used as a dip. Also, you can use a cocktail sauce as well. Some people will use honey mustard, ranch, buffalo sauce, or even BBQ sauce. 

Is Tartar sauce the same as Horseradish? 

In some areas, horseradish is added to tartar sauce but horseradish alone is not tartar sauce. It is only an ingredient that is sometimes added.

Thanks for checking out this easy-to-make southern Tatar sauce recipe. I am sure you will love it as much as my family does. If you like it, please leave us a comment below letting us know!

-Ronnie

Check out these other recipes that I am sure you will love as well!

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