Tartare Sauce
Tartare Sauce
5 from 3 votes
Explore the origins and delicious taste of tartare sauce in this fun, first-person guided recipe. Regardless of your kitchen expertise, unravelling this staple sauce's secrets is a delightful journey!
Tartare Sauce

Ah, tartare sauce. Simply uttering the name can evoke a sensory memory that whisks us off to a seaside fish-and-chips shop. The tangy, creamy delight that is tartare sauce holds a special place in the culinary world and in our hearts. 

Hailing from France (yes, you can give a nod to our French friends for this one), tartare sauce was traditionally served with tartare steak — a raw, finely chopped beef dish. However, it soon found its way into fish dishes, specifically fried fish, and boy, do we thank the culinary gods for that divine pairing! 

The fantastic element about this sauce is its simplicity. As your DIY culinary guide, I assure you it’s a fun and straightforward task.  

Whether you’re a novice just learning to navigate your way around the kitchen or a seasoned cook, the tartare sauce recipe is an exciting project that will stretch your culinary skills just enough to keep it interesting.  

If you’ve mastered the art of chopping and mixing, congratulations, you’re halfway there! 

Of course, as with any recipe, there are different versions depending on where you are. Our version keeps it classic with a mayonnaise base — a creamy canvas waiting for the bold, zesty flavours of gherkin and lemon juice.  

The addition of finely chopped parsley adds an aromatic touch, a pop of colour, and that herby freshness that rounds off the flavours. 

Making this tartare sauce isn’t just about the recipe. It’s about the experience — the smells, the textures, and yes, even the sound of the mayo squelching as you mix in the rest of the ingredients.  

Salt and black pepper join the party, enhancing and balancing the flavours, making the sauce an irresistibly perfect accompaniment to a range of dishes. 

As we navigate through this recipe, we’ll take a trip down memory lane, imagining the French chefs of yore concocting this delectable sauce for the first time. 

Or picture the early British chip shops, deciding to couple this French sauce with their golden, crispy fish. The story of tartare sauce is as layered and rich as its flavour profile. 

But enough talk, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and delve into the making of this wonderous sauce. With its creamy texture, tangy taste, and just the right amount of zing, let’s bring this culinary classic to life in your kitchen.  

And remember, cooking isn’t just a task; it’s an adventure. So, let’s embark on the tartare sauce journey! 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

Tartare sauce, with its creamy base and tangy notes, is a delightful accompaniment to many dishes. In particular, it’s a wonderful complement to fish and chips. 

Its complexity of flavours comes from a blend of few but potent ingredients, and understanding the role of each ingredient can help you appreciate this sauce even more. Let’s delve into each one. 

Mayonnaise: As the backbone of tartare sauce, mayonnaise provides a creamy, smooth, and luxurious texture that forms the perfect canvas for the other ingredients to shine.  

It has a subtle flavour that doesn’t overpower, yet its oil-in-water emulsion nature ensures it carries and harmonizes the other ingredients’ tastes well.  

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, you can use Greek yoghurt or avocado-based mayonnaise, although these substitutions might slightly change the taste. 

Gherkin: The gherkin introduces a unique pickle-like flavour, enhancing the overall taste profile of the sauce. It gives the tartare sauce its distinctive tangy and slightly sweet notes.  

Its crunchy texture also adds an interesting contrast against the creaminess of the mayonnaise. You could use other types of pickles as an alternative but do note that each kind of pickle will subtly alter the flavour. 

Parsley: This bright, aromatic herb adds a fresh, green note to our sauce, providing a necessary contrast to the rich mayo and tart gherkin. It contributes both flavour and aesthetics, with its fine green specks giving a pop of colour. 

If parsley is unavailable, you could consider using dill or chervil, but remember, each herb has a unique flavour profile and will give a different character to the sauce. 

Lemon Juice: Lemon juice’s role in our tartare sauce is essential; its citrusy tang helps cut through the creaminess of the mayonnaise, bringing balance and brightness.  

This ingredient is responsible for a zesty note that perks up the other flavours, making them more vibrant. You could use other citrus juices like lime or even a dash of white wine vinegar as an alternative, but nothing quite matches the lemon’s distinct freshness. 

Salt & Black Pepper: The simplest ingredients but by no means the least significant, salt and black pepper enhance all the other ingredients’ flavours. Salt is a flavour amplifier, making everything else taste more of itself. Meanwhile, black pepper adds a touch of heat and complexity to the sauce.  

While there are no direct alternatives for these seasonings, you could experiment with different types of salts and peppercorns to subtly tweak the taste. 

Each ingredient in tartare sauce contributes to creating a unique, complex flavour profile that goes beyond its basic creamy and tangy character.  

By understanding these ingredients’ roles, you can start to experiment and customize your tartare sauce to suit your taste buds. Enjoy the process and, most importantly, enjoy the sauce! 

Understanding the Uses of Tartare Sauce  

There’s something remarkably satisfying about the creamy, tangy flavour of tartare sauce. I’ve found that tartare sauce is incredibly versatile and can be paired with a wide array of dishes.  

It’s a condiment staple in many countries, particularly in places with a strong seafood tradition. 

In my experience, tartare sauce is most commonly used as an accompaniment to seafood, particularly fish and chips. The tanginess of the sauce cuts through the oiliness of the fried fish, bringing a balanced taste to the dish. It also pairs beautifully with other fried seafood like calamari or shrimp. 

Yet, its uses go beyond seafood. I’ve found that tartare sauce also works well with roasted or grilled vegetables, adding a refreshing zest. It even complements sandwiches, burgers, and other types of fried foods quite well. 

Not just a simple condiment, the tartare sauce can also be used in preparing dishes. For instance, it can be added to potato salads or deviled eggs to give them an extra tang. 

Moreover, the homemade version, like the recipe I’ve shared, allows you to adjust the flavour profile according to your liking. Whether you want it creamier with more mayonnaise, or tangier with added lemon juice, the choice is yours. 

While tartare sauce may have originated as a seafood accompaniment, its range of applications is as broad as your culinary imagination. It’s a condiment that not only enhances the flavour of your dishes but also opens up a world of culinary possibilities.  

I encourage everyone to experiment with different uses of this versatile sauce in their kitchen. 

Storing Homemade Tartare Sauce: Tips and Tricks  

There’s an undeniable sense of accomplishment that comes with making your own condiments like tartare sauce.  

It’s not only about the freshness and quality of ingredients but also the control over flavour according to your preference. However, one common question that I often come across is: How long can you store homemade tartare sauce in the refrigerator? 

Based on my experience, homemade tartare sauce can last up to one week when properly stored in the refrigerator. Since the primary ingredient is mayonnaise, a perishable product, it’s crucial to keep the sauce in a cool environment to avoid spoilage. 

The best practice is to transfer the sauce to an airtight container immediately after preparing it. This helps prevent air exposure, which can speed up the degradation of the sauce. Also, the use of fresh, high-quality ingredients is critical to extend the shelf life of your tartare sauce. 

It’s also important to use clean utensils whenever you serve the sauce. Cross-contamination can occur when you use a spoon that has come into contact with other food items, potentially introducing bacteria into the sauce. 

While the homemade tartare sauce’s taste is undoubtedly superior, it doesn’t contain the preservatives that you find in commercial versions. Therefore, it’s vital to enjoy your sauce within a week while its flavour is still optimal. 

Remember, when in doubt, the smell test is your best bet. If the sauce has a sour or off smell, it’s safer to discard it. Always prioritize your health over the desire to prolong the use of homemade items. 

The Freezing Dilemma: Can You Freeze Tartare Sauce?  

I’ll confess that I love to prepare sauces and condiments in bulk, and tartare sauce is no exception. Preparing large batches saves time and ensures I have my favourite sauces on hand whenever I need them. However, this practice leads to an important question: Can you freeze tartare sauce? 

My straightforward answer is yes but with some caveats. Mayonnaise, the primary ingredient in the tartare sauce, can change in texture when frozen and then defrosted. The emulsion can break, leading to a separation of oil and other components, making the sauce less appealing. 

However, I’ve found a workaround that may help if you’re really keen on freezing it. Try whisking the sauce vigorously after it’s been thawed. This can help re-emulsify the ingredients to an extent. It may not restore the sauce to its original state, but it can make it palatable. 

If the texture still doesn’t appeal to you after whisking, consider using the thawed tartare sauce in recipes where the texture won’t be as noticeable, such as in a potato salad or a fish pie. 

While freezing tartare sauce is possible, I would always suggest making it fresh when possible for the best taste and texture. If you still decide to freeze it, remember to store it in an airtight container, and always defrost it in the refrigerator for safety reasons. 

While you can freeze the tartare sauce, it’s always a compromise between convenience and quality. But with a few adjustments, you can make it work. 

The Health Profile of Tartare Sauce  

I have been a lifelong lover of tartare sauce and have often found myself adding a dollop of this tangy condiment to my dishes. However, as I became more conscious about my diet, I began to ponder – is tartare sauce healthy? 

Understanding the healthiness of tartare sauce starts with analysing its core ingredients. The base is mayonnaise, which is known to be high in fat and calories. However, it’s not all negative.  

Mayonnaise also contains a good amount of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and some omega-3 fatty acids that support heart health.  

Then, we have gherkins, packed with vitamin K, vitamin A, and essential minerals like potassium and magnesium. Lemon juice and parsley, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, add a healthy punch too. 

However, like most things in life, moderation is the key. Because of its high-calorie content from mayonnaise, tartare sauce can quickly add to your daily intake if not consumed responsibly.  

A tablespoon or two in your fish and chips isn’t likely to harm your diet, but dousing your food with it could lead to consuming more calories than you might like. 

A homemade tartare sauce, like the one I prepared, allows you to control the quality and quantity of ingredients, which can help make it a bit healthier. Opt for a high-quality, low-sodium mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, and organic gherkins to create a sauce that’s flavourful without being overly caloric. 

While tartare sauce isn’t considered a healthy food, it doesn’t have to be a villain either. It all boils down to mindful consumption and balance in your overall diet. 

Discovering the Origin of Tartare Sauce 

The allure of tartare sauce lies not only in its tangy, creamy flavour but also in its rich history. The origin of tartare sauce has intrigued me for years, and I’ve spent countless hours exploring its roots. 

The term “tartare” traces back to the Tartars, a group of Turkic tribes that inhabited the Central Asian steppes. However, the sauce we know today has a distinctly French origin.  

It was first introduced in the 19th century in France and was initially served with “steak tartare,” a dish of raw minced beef or horsemeat, hence its name. 

In its traditional French version, tartare sauce was a blend of mayonnaise, capers, gherkins, and various herbs. It was the perfect accompaniment to the rich, uncooked meat, offering a tangy counterbalance.  

Over time, tartare sauce travelled across the world and became a staple in British cuisine, often served with fish and chips. 

Interestingly, variations of tartare sauce have evolved in different regions. For instance, in the United States, tartare sauce often includes chopped pickles or pickle relish and sometimes hard-boiled eggs. In Belgium and the Netherlands, it leans towards a green colour due to the addition of lots of chopped herbs. 

Preparing my own tartare sauce, I respect its rich heritage while also allowing room for customization to suit my personal taste. And it’s not just a condiment for seafood anymore; it has found its place alongside vegetables, meats, and sandwiches, transcending its original use. 

Tartare sauce, with its robust flavour and rich history, has earned a special place in global cuisine. It’s a testament to how a simple blend of ingredients can create a timeless favourite. 

Exploring Gherkin Substitutes in Tartare Sauce  

I often find myself improvising and experimenting in the kitchen. One question that sparked my curiosity was – what can I substitute for gherkins in tartare sauce? 

Gherkins, with their distinct sweet and tangy flavour, are a crucial element of tartare sauce. However, there can be times when gherkins aren’t available or someone may have a particular aversion to them. But, fear not. I’ve discovered a few replacements that maintain the overall taste and texture of the sauce. 

The first and most obvious substitute is pickles, specifically dill pickles. They are similar to gherkins and carry a tangy flavour that works wonderfully with the creamy mayonnaise base. Make sure to chop them finely to mimic the texture of gherkins. 

Capers are another option that I’ve found to be effective. These small, pickled flower buds bring a tangy punch and a unique flavour profile to the sauce. They are more pungent than gherkins, so use them sparingly. 

In a pinch, relish can also be used. It’s essentially chopped pickles in brine, providing the necessary crunch and tang to the sauce. However, as it’s sweeter, it will alter the tartare sauce’s flavour profile, making it slightly sweeter. 

While gherkins are a classic ingredient in the tartare sauce, they can be replaced by several alternatives like dill pickles, capers, or relish. Each brings its unique taste to the table, keeping the essence of tartare sauce intact.  

I always encourage creative twists in cooking. After all, it’s about making a dish your own! 

Finding Mayonnaise Alternatives for Tartare Sauce  

I’m a firm believer in kitchen versatility and the magic of ingredient substitutions. One question I’ve often encountered in my culinary journey is – what can I use if I don’t have mayonnaise for tartare sauce? 

The creamy base of mayonnaise is a key aspect of tartare sauce. However, I understand that there can be situations where you might need to find a substitute, whether due to dietary restrictions, personal preferences, or simply running out of mayo. 

Greek yoghurt stands out as an excellent replacement for mayonnaise. It provides a similar creamy texture and also brings a tangy taste, complementing the other ingredients of tartare sauce well. Plus, Greek yoghurt is a healthier alternative, being low in fat and high in protein. 

Sour cream is another alternative that I’ve successfully used. It provides a rich, tangy flavour and creamy texture, mimicking the characteristics of mayonnaise quite well. 

For a vegan version, I’ve found that silken tofu can work as a mayonnaise substitute. It needs to be blended until smooth and then seasoned appropriately. This substitute not only provides the necessary creaminess but also makes the sauce significantly lighter. 

Alternatively, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try a mixture of mashed avocados and a bit of olive oil. This combination provides a creamy base and adds a unique flavour twist to the tartare sauce. 

While mayonnaise is a fundamental component of tartare sauce, it can be replaced with alternatives like Greek yoghurt, sour cream, silken tofu, or even avocados. Each substitute adds its unique touch, opening up a world of possibilities for your tartare sauce! 

Creating a Vegan Tartare Sauce: A Delicious Guide  

Vegan cuisine has always intrigued me. It’s remarkable how plant-based alternatives can imitate traditional recipes while providing unique flavours. One such culinary adventure I embarked upon was creating a vegan tartare sauce. 

A traditional tartare sauce, while delicious, is not vegan-friendly due to the presence of mayonnaise which contains eggs. But I discovered that with a few ingredient swaps, a vegan tartare sauce is not only possible but also incredibly flavourful. 

For the creamy base, I replaced the mayonnaise with vegan mayo. It provides a similar texture and taste without any animal products. Several brands offer vegan mayonnaise options made from plant-based ingredients like soy protein or processed peas. 

I kept the gherkins and parsley in the recipe, as they’re already vegan and contribute significantly to the sauce’s flavour profile. Lemon juice, salt, and pepper were also retained for their zesty kick and seasoning. 

However, if you can’t find vegan mayo, there are other alternatives. Blended silken tofu, for example, is a superb substitute that provides a creamy base. Another option is a well-pureed ripe avocado mixed with a little olive oil. 

It’s important to note that adjusting the tartness is crucial when using vegan mayo or other substitutes as they can vary in tanginess compared to traditional mayonnaise. So, always taste your sauce and adjust the lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed. 

Creating a vegan tartare sauce is not only feasible but also a fun way to explore plant-based alternatives. It’s proof that vegan options don’t have to compromise on taste and that with a bit of creativity, we can enjoy our favourite recipes while sticking to our dietary preferences. 

The Great Parsley Debate: Fresh vs. Dried  

I’ve often found myself caught in the fresh versus dried herbs debate. It’s particularly relevant when I make tartare sauce, and the question arises – can I use dried parsley instead of fresh in tartare sauce? 

In my experience, fresh and dried herbs have their unique strengths and use in cooking. Fresh parsley brings a vibrant, refreshing flavour and aesthetic appeal to the tartare sauce. It contributes to the overall freshness of the sauce, which beautifully complements the tanginess of the other ingredients. 

That said, there are circumstances where fresh parsley may not be available, or you may want the convenience of dried herbs. Can dried parsley step in for fresh? In a word, yes. 

Dried parsley can be used in place of fresh. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh ones.  

Therefore, you’ll need less dried parsley compared to fresh. A good rule of thumb I follow is to use a third of the quantity of dried parsley if a recipe calls for fresh. 

It’s also worth noting that dried parsley may not provide the same vibrant green colour as fresh parsley. So while the flavour might be there, the visual appeal may be slightly less. 

While fresh parsley is an ideal choice for tartare sauce, dried parsley can serve as a viable substitute in a pinch. It’s about adjusting the quantities appropriately and understanding that while the taste may be similar, there might be slight differences in texture and colour.  

Cooking is about flexibility, and adapting to what’s available is part of the culinary journey. 

Adjusting the Tanginess in Tartare Sauce: A Balancing Act  

As someone who thoroughly enjoys the complex interplay of flavours in food, I find tartare sauce to be a fascinating condiment. It’s tangy, creamy, and packed with nuanced flavours. However, I’ve often been asked – how can you adjust the tanginess in tartare sauce? 

The tanginess in tartare sauce primarily comes from two ingredients: lemon juice and gherkins. These two ingredients create a beautiful balance against the creamy mayonnaise base and the savoury hint of parsley. 

But, as with any dish, personal preferences can vary, and sometimes, you might want to tweak the tanginess to your liking. 

To reduce the tanginess, there are a couple of methods I’ve found effective. First, you can decrease the quantity of lemon juice. Start by adding half the recommended amount, taste, and then add more if necessary. Remember, it’s always easier to add more than to take away. 

Similarly, gherkins also contribute a tangy taste. If you find your sauce too tangy, try reducing the number of gherkins. Or, consider replacing gherkins with something milder like cucumber. 

On the other hand, if you prefer a tangier sauce, increase the amount of lemon juice and gherkins to fit your palate. You can even add a small amount of white vinegar for an extra tangy kick. 

Balancing flavours in cooking is indeed an art, and it often requires a bit of experimentation. The key is to start with less, taste, and adjust as necessary. Cooking, after all, should cater to personal preferences. So don’t hesitate to tweak and make your tartare sauce exactly how you love it! 

Creating Tartare Sauce Without Lemon Juice: A Zesty Challenge  

I have always loved the versatility of tartare sauce. Its perfect balance of creamy, tangy, and salty elements makes it a great companion for a variety of dishes. However, a question that once presented a fun challenge for me was – can you make tartare sauce without lemon juice? 

Lemon juice, with its bright acidity, is a key component of tartare sauce. It cuts through the richness of the mayonnaise and complements the other ingredients. But if you find yourself without lemons, or perhaps you have an allergy to citrus, there are ways to create a delicious tartare sauce. 

Vinegar is the first alternative that comes to mind. It offers the same acidic quality that lemon juice provides. White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can make excellent replacements. They’re mild, not overly sour, and blend well with the other ingredients. 

Another option I’ve explored is pickled cucumber brine. The pickling liquid has a tangy flavour that can substitute for lemon juice. Moreover, if you’re using pickled gherkins, their brine can also be used to maintain the tartare sauce’s characteristic tang. 

In more adventurous attempts, I’ve also tried using tamarind paste. While it offers a slightly different flavour profile, it brings a unique tanginess to the sauce that some may find enjoyable. 

Finally, remember that tartare sauce is about balance. When substituting lemon juice, add your alternative acid incrementally, tasting as you go.  

This way, you’ll ensure your tartare sauce retains its delightful balance of creaminess, tanginess, and savoury notes, even without the lemon juice. Cooking is all about creativity, and there’s no one perfect way to create your favourite dishes. 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

Before you leave, let me share some delectable delights that could beautifully complement the French tartare sauce that we just whipped up. 

Imagine serving some crispy Chicken Tenders on a Sunday evening. My recipe gives you a crunch that is music to the ears, and the tenderness of the chicken melting in your mouth is pure bliss. Trust me, dunk those golden beauties in our tangy tartare sauce, and you’re set for a fabulous treat! 

Now, who doesn’t love Fish and Chips? There’s something deeply satisfying about biting into a crisp batter revealing succulent white fish inside.  

My version of this quintessentially British dish has a light, crunchy batter that beautifully absorbs our homemade tartare sauce. A side of chips takes this dish to the next level. 

Now let’s head to the streets of America with the classic Hamburger. It’s a meaty patty sandwiched between soft, slightly sweet bread. It’s loaded with fresh veggies, tangy pickles, and then here’s the twist.  

We’re going to slather on our rich, homemade tartare sauce instead of the usual mayo or ketchup. Every bite is a medley of flavours, and it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. 

Next up, how about some heavenly Crispy Buffalo Wings? These babies are a perfect party starter. The sauce is a perfect balance of heat, tang, and sweetness, slathered generously on perfectly fried wings. A dip of tartare sauce takes the heat down a notch and adds an extra layer of flavour. 

Feel free to explore more of my mouth-watering recipes, all waiting to be paired with our delightful tartare sauce. I assure you, it’s going to be a culinary journey worth remembering. And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and see your delightful creations in the comments section! 

Tartare Sauce

Tartare Sauce

by Nabeela Kauser
Explore the origins and delicious taste of tartare sauce in this fun, first-person guided recipe. Regardless of your kitchen expertise, unravelling this staple sauce's secrets is a delightful journey! 
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Sauces & Dips
Cuisine French
Servings 8
Calories 171 kcal


  • 200 grams Mayonnaise
  • 1 Gherkin
  • 1 tbsp Parsley Finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 pinch Black Pepper


  • Finely chop the parsley, and gherkins then set aside
  • In a mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, chopped parsley, gherkin, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Carefully mix to combine, make sure all the ingredients come together.
  • For optimal results, transfer to a serving bowl or an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.


Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 171kcalCarbohydrates: 0.3gProtein: 0.3gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.05gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 165mgPotassium: 10mgFibre: 0.03gSugar: 0.2gVitamin A: 59IUVitamin C: 1mgVitamin D: 0.1µgCalcium: 3mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword Fish, Food, Recipe, Seafood, Simple, Tartare
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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