Tartar sauce is a condiment made from mayonnaise, pickles, capers, herbs, and lemon juice.

Tartar Sauce

What is Tartar Sauce?

Tartar sauce is a condiment made from mayonnaise, pickles, capers, herbs, and lemon juice. Other ingredients used may include mustard, garlic, olives, sea salt, and yogurt. This sauce has a rich, savory, and tangy flavor.

  • It is often served with seafood dishes, such as fish and chips, fish fingers, fried fish, as well as French fries, roasted vegetables, sandwiches, and potatoes.
  • In the United States, this sauce is most popular in Alaska and Montana.

Some of the most popular tartar sauce brands are:

  • America’s Choice
  • Hellman’s
  • Kraft
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Bookbinder’s
  • Woeber’s
  • Schlotterbeck and Foss
  • Whole Foods

Origin of tartar sauce

Not much is known about who actually invented this sauce. Most food historians believe that the sauce dates back to the 18th century, because mayonnaise, a key ingredient in tartar sauce, was invented at the time. The name of the dish is derived from the Tatar horsemen of Central Asia. According to a legend, the Tatars placed raw horse meat under their saddles to be softened by riding. This idea was taken back to Europe by German sailors, resulting in the invention of beef or steak tartare, which is thought to be a French invention. This sauce was served as an accompaniment to beef tartare.


One tablespoon of tartar sauce contains:

As it is high in calories and fats, it is advisable to limit the consumption of tartar sauce. Other than sodium, the condiment has no other beneficial vitamins or minerals in useful quantities. Also, this sauce is considered an advanced glycation end product, which may lead to oxidative stress and inflammation. Overconsumption is likely to lead to health issues, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Commercial production

To prepare this sauce, the main ingredients required are mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill pickles or relish, horseradish, capers, and herbs. The pickles, capers, and herbs are chopped finely, and all the ingredients are whisked together. Next, salt and pepper are added, along with preservatives. Finally, the finished sauce can be stored in an airtight container and labeled.

Tartar sauce recipes

This sauce is often used as a dip for different dishes. However, it can also be used to provide flavor to sandwiches, rice dishes, and pasta dishes. Here are a few recipes to try:

FDA regulations

Tartar sauce falls under the category of sauces, dips, gravies, and condiments in the FDA code of regulations. The USDA defines tartar sauce as the food made by using a salad dressing or mayonnaise as a base to which dill or pickles have been added. Also, the sauce may contain capers, onions, cucumbers, or peppers. The sauce must have a tart flavor with an off-white or light cream color, and a thick and creamy texture. 


Morris, Kathy. “Each State’s Favorite Sauce (Hint: There’s a Reason Why It’s on Most Restaurant Tables).” Zippia, Zippia, Inc., 1 Apr. 2021, www.zippia.com/advice/states-favorite-sauce-hint-theres-reason-restaurant-tables/

“Tartar Sauce: The Beef Tartare Condiment.” SPICEography, Cindermint, LLC, 6 Jan. 2020, www.spiceography.com/tartar-sauce/

Uribarri, Jaime et al. “Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association vol. 110,6 (2010): 911-16.e12. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704564/