We Ranked the 8 Best Tartar Sauces You Can Buy

What exactly is tartar sauce? If we were to categorize it, it would fall in the condiment genus under the mayonnaise family (along with remoulade, blue cheese, and ranch). The difference, however, is that while those other sauces have a range of culinary uses, tartar sauce is generally limited to seafood. In that way, tartar sauce is an outlier in the broader condiment canon. 

I think tartar sauce only needs mayonnaise and chopped pickles to truly qualify as a tartar. That said, this classic seafood sauce often contains other ingredients. Lemon juice is the third most prevalent addition, followed by chopped onions, capers, and herbs. But, so long as tartar sauce has that creamy, briny tang and chunky consistency, I think it can be labeled as such. We tried a bunch of different tartar sauces (19 to be exact), about half of which skewed sweet, while the rest leaned sour. Personally, we favor sour varieties that have just a hint of sweetness. These were our top eight.

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Best of The Best

Legal Sea Foods House Tartar Sauce

My mouth is watering just thinking about this one. It’s creamy, mustardy, and briny with a great dill pickle flavor. It also contains caramelized onions, mustard powder, dried garlic, salted eggs, and pure cane sugar. Sauce is an alchemy, and Legal Sea Foods tartar is the perfect mixture of sweet and tart, but it’s not just that. There’s also sweetness from the onions and sugar, tartness from the vinegar, savoriness from the eggs, and a nice herby punch from the dill. Legal Sea Foods tartar is thoroughly creamy and delicious, and overall just the clear winner. You can use this on any piece of seafood, and, heck, put it on some French fries, too.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Bite

Inglehoffer Seafood Tartar Sauce

Inglehoffer makes great mustard, honey mustard, and horseradish sauce. And, hey, guess what? They make good tartar, too. It’s creamy, dill-forward, and packs a potent tangy punch. The numerous ingredients in this fancy tartar include celery, capers, parsley, dill weed, and mustard, to name just a few. But the big chunks of dill pickle are the real standouts: They’re crunchy and lend the sauce that excellent tartar texture. The best tartar is a balance of savory, sweet, and tangy, and Inglehoffer nails it.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best for a Fish Sandwich

Matheny’s Tartar Sauce

Matheny’s is creamy—like, really creamy. It also comes in a little jar and not a squirt bottle, so you know the stuff is thick. To me, this feels like a fancy mayonnaise, and I love it. It’s got big chunks of dill pickle in it, which I personally look for, to add some bonus texture. Matheny’s has a lot of heft, which means it’s great for a fish sandwich. Is there anything better than a good fish sandwich? A toasted bun, a fried piece of flaky cod, some iceberg lettuce, a thin slice of American cheese, and big glops of tartar sauce. What a perfect sandwich.

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best with Catfish

Frisch’s Original Tartar Sauce

“This is practically salad dressing, it’s so creamy,” said managing editor Gwynedd Stuart. Frisch’s is very simple. It doesn’t have a ton of herbs, or capers, or really anything that would feel extra. However, it does contain a classic, creamy, pickle-packed tang, and it feels like the freshest tartar sauce on this list. Frisch’s makes a great product. This would immediately enhance any finger food. To me, this is the perfect tartar to lift up something mild that needs some flavor enhancement, like a fried catfish.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Secret Ingredient

Trader Joe’s Tartar Sauce

Trader Joe’s tartar sauce is really sweet and really tangy. It brings the flavor hard. It’s got a nice, mouth-smacking quality and a strong piquancy. This tartar is made with extra virgin olive oil, so it’s got a bold, rich, slightly bitter taste. There’s also some rosemary oleoresin in it, which I guess is to help preserve the tartar sauce itself, so you do get a bit of rosemary flavor at the end. It’s actually quite nice. Trader Joe’s makes a fatty, herby, deliciously balanced tartar sauce. I’m a fan.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Dill Flavor

Beaver Brand Tartar Sauce

Beaver’s tartar sauce is tangy and sharp, and it comes loaded with dill flavor. It’s got some capers, too. This is really, really tangy, and I’m in love with it (although my  personal palate gravitates towards vinegar and sharp, bright flavors, so keep that in mind). If you’re looking for something less acidic and tart, you might not want Beaver. Still, I think the capers and dill add enough excitement to this tartar sauce that it had to land on this list.

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Budget

Great Value Tartar Sauce

This is standard tartar, but an exemplary standard nonetheless. It feels like it contains both sweet pickles and dill pickles, which is really nice. Great Value’s tartar is cheap as hell and pretty delicious. It does contain the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. You probably aren’t trying to buy healthy tartar sauce, but you should be aware of what these products contain (a few on this list contain corn syrup). Flavor wise, however, you could do a lot worse than Great Value. It’s a bit oily, but still not bad.

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best with Fish Sticks

Burman’s Original Tartar Sauce

Burman’s, an Aldi product, is a great mild tartar sauce. It doesn’t contain an overload of tang, or dill, or capers. Instead, it’s quite simply mayonnaise and pickles. If you like that simplicity, this tartar sauce is for you. This would be great with some fish sticks if you want a mild flavor to complement your breaded seafood.

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

The rest of what we tasted: Duke’s Tartar Sauce, Stonewall Kitchen Down East Tartar Sauce, Woeber’s Tartar Sauce, Kraft Tartar Sauce, Bob’s Tartar Sauce, Primal Kitchen Tartar Sauce, McCormick Tartar Sauce, First Street Tartar, Market Pantry Tartar, 365 Tartar Sauce, Louisiana Tartar Sauce

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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