Have you ever stopped by a restaurant and wondered what to do with the tangy, flavor-packed tartar sauce that came with your meal?
Tartar sauce is an incredibly versatile condiment, perfect for almost any seafood dish.
But what if you can’t find it in stores or want to try something new? Fear not.
There are several delicious substitutes you can use to bring that signature zing to your meals.
From zesty horseradish mixtures to smooth mayonnaise or savory yogurt blends, there’s a substitute option out there for everyone.
Read on to learn more about how to make and store tartar sauce, as well as the five best alternatives if you don’t have any at hand.
What is Tartar Sauce?
Tartar sauce is a condiment typically served with fried fish dishes, and also on sandwich buns with fried fish sandwiches.
It is made from mayonnaise, cucumber pickles, capers and fine diced onions.
Tartar sauce originated in France, but the earliest written recipe for an American version was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1895.
Tartar sauce has remained popular through the years and continues to be served alongside many classic American seafood dishes such as fish and chips, fried shrimp and fried oysters.
Though most tartar sauces are store-bought due to their convenience, they can also be made at home if you are feeling ambitious or if you want to give your dish a unique flavor.
Making tartar sauce at home starts with making a basic mayonnaise which is then mixed with the other ingredients such as pickles, capers and herbs of your choice until you get a desired consistency.
While tartar sauce provides an excellent balance of flavors when paired with crunchy seafood dishes, sometimes it’s useful to have alternatives such as flavored mayonnaises or remoulades available if you prefer something different from the usual tartar flavor.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Tartar Sauce
In many cases, people find they do not have access to tartar sauce when they need it most.
For these scenarios, various substitutes can be used to bring out the flavor of your fish and seafood dishes.
Here are five of the best alternatives to tartar sauce you can use:
1 – Garlic Aioli
Garlic Aioli is a delicious substitute for tartar sauce.
It’s made from mayonnaise, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice or vinegar.
It’s seasoned with salt and pepper to give it a flavorful balance that complements seafood dishes well.
You can easily make it at home by combining the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
The amount of garlic can be adjusted to your own preference—more for stronger flavor, less if you don’t like garlic as much.
Garlic Aioli goes great with fried and grilled fish and makes an excellent dip for french fries, potato chips, and veggies.
2 – Remoulade Sauce
Remoulade sauce is a bit like tartar sauce in its texture and bright yellow color, but the taste will be quite different.
The primary flavors of remoulade sauce come from mustard, pickles, capers and herbs.
Remoulade is often called a French version of tartar sauce but it does carry its own unique flavor profile.
Its popularity as an accompaniment to seafood dishes has gained traction over the years, as evidenced by its inclusion on many restaurant menus now.
Though more assertive than tartar sauce in flavor, this condiment goes well with grilled or fried seafood and makes a great dipping sauce for shrimp or oysters.
3 – Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki is a traditional Greek sauce, made from strained yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and sometimes dill or mint.
While not an exact replacement for tartar sauce because of the absence of capers and dill pickles, it still has a mild flavor and creaminess that pairs well with fish.
It is simple to make on your own or it can be purchased in stores.
To make your own tzatziki sauce at home, all you need are thick Greek yogurt, quarter cucumber (grated), garlic (minced fine), olive oil (approximately 1-2 tablespoons), some salt and pepper to taste, and fresh parsley or chopped dill leaves.
Simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl, store it in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving to let the flavors develop fully.
When ready to serve simply spoon over fried seafood dishes such as calamari rings or served along with grilled dishes such as grilled shrimp skewers or fish fillets.
You can also use tzatziki as a dip for vegetables and pita bread.
4 – Thousand Island Dressing
Thousand Island dressing is one of the most common substitutes for tartar sauce.
This popular condiment has a ketchup-based base and can include ingredients such as horseradish, pickles, relish, chives, and onion.
Thousand Island dressing pairs well with seafood dishes and some people prefer it as an alternative to tartar sauce since it has lively flavor notes.
You can make your own Thousand Island dressing using ingredients such as mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and seasonings.
5 – Sriracha Mayo Sauce
Sriracha mayo sauce is a delicious, spicy alternative to tartar sauce.
It is a combination of Sriracha hot sauce and mayonnaise, creating a zesty condiment that is perfect for seafood dishes.
This type of condiment has a slightly spicy and creamy taste, much like tartar sauce, but with a bit more kick.
All you need to do to make it yourself is mix equal parts Sriracha hot sauce and mayonnaise together in a small bowl or cup.
You can also mix other ingredients together such as lemon juice or freshly chopped herbs to create unique flavor combinations.
Sriracha mayo sauce is great served as an accompaniment to fish and other seafood dishes either on the side or spooned directly over the food.
Tartar sauce is a condiment commonly used to accompany seafood.
Its distinctive taste makes it a popular choice, but not everyone likes it or has access to it.
Luckily there are several savory alternatives that can give your seafood dishes the same glorious flavor without the tartar sauce.
Whichever substitute you decide to use, these alternative condiments will give you the same flavorful balance and tenderness that tartar sauce often provides while giving your meal an exciting edge of unique variation in flavor.