9 Best Substitute For Tartar Sauce

Tartar Sauce Substitute

Tartar sauce, a creamy and tangy condiment typically enjoyed with seafood, is revered for its flavor-enhancing abilities. This delightful sauce is a combination of mayonnaise or aioli, along with a selection of flavorful ingredients like pickles, capers, lemon juice, and herbs. The end result is a condiment that brilliantly balances creamy, tangy, and slightly sweet notes, amplifying the natural flavors of the dishes it complements.

But what if tartar sauce isn’t available or you’re simply looking for a twist in flavor? It’s time to turn to substitutes that can fulfill the same purpose with aplomb. From a simple combination of mayonnaise and dill, to the robust flavor of remoulade, the alternatives to tartar sauce are plentiful and diverse. These substitutes not only mirror the creamy consistency of tartar sauce but also offer a variety of flavor profiles to choose from, thus adding a unique touch to your dishes. So, without further ado, let’s get started on this flavorful journey.

What is Tartar Sauce?

Tartar sauce is a creamy condiment that is typically used with seafood dishes. It is a staple in many cuisines, especially in the United States and France. The base of the sauce consists of mayonnaise or aioli, into which other ingredients like pickles, capers, lemon juice, and herbs are mixed to lend it its unique tangy and slightly sweet flavor profile.

Quick View of Substitutes For Tartar Sauce

  • Mayonnaise and Dill
  • Greek Yogurt and Mustard
  • Sour Cream and Lemon
  • Aioli
  • Vegan Mayonnaise
  • Cocktail Sauce
  • Pesto
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Remoulade

Best Substitutes For Tartar Sauce

Let’s delve deeper into the characteristics, preparation, and ideal uses for each of these substitutes to help you make the perfect choice when you’re out of tartar sauce or simply looking for a change in flavor.

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Mayonnaise and Dill

Mayonnaise and dill make for a simple yet effective tartar sauce substitute. Both ingredients are easily accessible, and the combination results in a sauce with a rich, creamy texture similar to tartar sauce.

Mayonnaise acts as a base, providing the creamy, dense profile, while the dill imparts a bright, refreshing flavor that helps cut through the richness of the mayonnaise. You can add some lemon juice for acidity and extra chopped pickles for a crunchier texture.

This substitute is not only easy to make but also versatile. It pairs well with seafood dishes and also works wonders as a dip for fried food items. Plus, if you wish to add more flavor dimensions, you can experiment with other herbs and spices.

Greek Yogurt and Mustard

The combination of Greek yogurt and mustard offers a lighter alternative to tartar sauce. Greek yogurt is thicker and tangier than regular yogurt, which makes it a good match for the creaminess and tanginess of tartar sauce.

Adding mustard into the mix introduces a depth of flavor with its spiciness and a hint of acidity. It balances the tanginess of the Greek yogurt, thus creating a substitute that’s just as flavorful as tartar sauce.

This combination works brilliantly in cold seafood salads or as a dipping sauce. Plus, it is a healthier option, being lower in calories and higher in protein compared to tartar sauce.

Sour Cream and Lemon

Sour cream and lemon is another great substitute for tartar sauce. Sour cream offers a creamy texture with a slight tanginess, while lemon juice adds a refreshing zing and acidity that complements it.

Together, these ingredients mimic the rich, tangy profile of tartar sauce. You can enhance this substitute by adding fresh herbs or even some grated garlic for extra flavor.

This versatile sauce works well with seafood, fried foods, and can even be used as a salad dressing.

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Aioli, a Mediterranean sauce made of garlic, olive oil, and egg yolks, serves as a delectable substitute for tartar sauce. Its creamy consistency is akin to tartar sauce, while the strong flavor of garlic provides a robust and distinctive flavor profile.

Aioli offers a depth of flavor with its earthy garlic and the fruity undertones of olive oil. While it lacks the tanginess of tartar sauce, the inclusion of lemon juice in some aioli recipes can help bridge this gap.

You can serve aioli with grilled seafood, as a spread on sandwiches, or as a dip for vegetables and fried foods.

Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan mayonnaise is an excellent choice for those following a plant-based diet. Made with plant-based oils, vinegar, and sometimes plant milk, vegan mayonnaise mimics the creamy texture and mild tanginess of traditional mayonnaise, making it a good stand-in for tartar sauce.

Adding pickles, capers, or lemon juice can make vegan mayonnaise even more similar to tartar sauce. This plant-based substitute works well in vegan and vegetarian dishes, especially those that need a creamy, tangy addition.

Cocktail Sauce

Cocktail sauce, with its tangy and spicy flavor profile, offers a more intense alternative to tartar sauce. Made from ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice, cocktail sauce packs a punch and goes especially well with seafood.

While cocktail sauce has a thinner consistency than tartar sauce, its strong, distinctive taste more than makes up for this difference. It’s an ideal dipping sauce for shrimp and works wonderfully in seafood cocktails.


Pesto, with its fresh, herby profile, presents a unique substitute for tartar sauce. Made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, pesto is a sauce with a depth of flavor that can elevate any dish.

While it doesn’t mimic the flavor of tartar sauce, pesto does offer a creamy texture and a burst of fresh flavors. It pairs beautifully with seafood pasta dishes and can be used as a spread on sandwiches.

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Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing, a staple in American cuisine, is a versatile substitute for tartar sauce. Its base of buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream gives it a creamy texture similar to tartar sauce, while the addition of herbs and spices imparts a savory flavor profile.

Ranch dressing can be used in much the same way as tartar sauce, making it a great alternative. It’s particularly good with fried foods and works well as a dressing for salads.


Remoulade, a condiment hailing from France, is a fantastic alternative to tartar sauce. Like tartar sauce, remoulade has a mayonnaise base, but it gets its unique flavor from ingredients like mustard, capers, pickles, and herbs.

With its creamy texture and tangy, complex flavor profile, remoulade is a natural substitute for tartar sauce. It’s traditionally served with meats and fish, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire.

Substitutes for Tartar Sauce: Nutritional Profile

Here’s a brief comparison of the nutritional profile of these tartar sauce substitutes per ¼ cup serving:

SubstituteCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)Gluten
Mayonnaise and Dill36040000No
Greek Yogurt and Mustard600.44.6010.4No
Sour Cream and Lemon120102.502.5No
Vegan Mayonnaise34036600No
Cocktail Sauce7001800Yes
Ranch Dressing16016201No

Note: The nutritional information may vary depending on the brand and specific recipe used.


Every sauce brings its unique blend of flavors to a dish, and while tartar sauce holds its own in the world of condiments, there are numerous substitutes that can match or even enhance its creamy and tangy character. From the fresh and tangy Greek yogurt and mustard to the distinctive and savory remoulade, the choice depends on your palette, dietary preferences, and the ingredients at hand. With this guide, you’re now equipped to navigate the landscape of tartar sauce substitutes and find the perfect complement to your culinary creations. Happy cooking!

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