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Captain D’s Tartar Sauce Recipe

Nothing goes better with crispy fish and chips than great-tasting tartar.

And nobody knows tartar better than Captain D’s.

Captain D’s is a casual fried fish restaurant chain with over 500 locations across the United States. They are famous for their crispy fish and chips and tangy tartar sauce. Not sold in stores, the only place to get hold of their delicious tartar is to visit the restaurant.

But not anymore.

Now you can make great-tasting Captain D’s tartar sauce in the comfort of your kitchen.

Though the recipe is a closely guarded secret, I’ve put together a version that’s super easy to make and tastes just like the original.

Traditional tartar sauce is made with mayonnaise, dill pickles, capers, and fresh herbs.

However, Captain D’s includes a few extra ingredients that give it its unique flavor.

This Captain D’s tartar sauce recipe goes great with all types of fish, grilled meats, and even your favorite sandwich.

And at the end of the recipe, I’ve included several variations so you can try out different combinations and discover your favorite version.

Read on to learn how to make great tasty Captain D’s tartar sauce that tastes just as good (or even better) than the original.

What Do You Need To Make Captain D’s Tartar Sauce



I recommend using homemade mayonnaise for a richer, creamier flavor, but you can use your favorite store-bought brand.

However, I don’t recommend Miracle Whip for this recipe as it significantly changes the taste of the tartar sauce.

Dill Pickles

Use your favorite brand. Feel free to substitute sweet pickles or pickle relish for the dills if you want a sweeter-tasting tartar.


The diced onion deepens the flavor of the tartar.

You can substitute a red onion if you want a more intense onion flavor.

Fresh Dill

Fresh minced dill is a crucial ingredient in Captain D’s tartar sauce.

If you can’t find fresh, you can use dried dill.

However, be sure to reduce the amount by half and taste it before adding more because dried dill has a more intense flavor than fresh.

Lemon Juice 

If at all possible, use fresh lemons.

However, you can use four tablespoons of bottled lemon juice if you don’t have access to fresh lemons.

Yellow Mustard

The mustard gives your tartar sauce some tang. Feel free to substitute dijon or whole-grained mustard as you desire.

Salt and Black Pepper 

I recommend using coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Salt helps unlock the other flavors in the tartar sauce, but be sure you taste it, so you don’t over-season your tartar sauce.

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  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Non-reactive mixing bowl
  • Spoon or spatula

How To Make Captain D’s Tartar Sauce

Step One: Chop the dill pickles, and peel and chop the white onion. Depending on your preference, you can chop them as fine or coarse as you like.

Step Two: Rinse and then finely mince the fresh dill.

Step Three: Add all the ingredients to a non-reactive bowl and mix well until they are evenly distributed throughout the sauce.

Step Four: Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Feel free to adjust the amount of the ingredients to get your desired flavor and texture.

Step Five: Chill in the fridge for at least one hour before serving. I usually leave my Captain D’s tartar sauce to chill overnight, intensifying the flavors.

Serve cold, and enjoy.

Other Things To Consider When Making Captain D’s Tartar Sauce

You Can Customize Your Tartar Sauce

Captain D’s tartar is excellent in itself. But you can also use it as a base to add other ingredients.

For example, add Thai chili or garlic paste to give your tartar a unique Asian flavor that goes great with sesame-seed seared tuna.

Or add some canned chipotle peppers (make sure you include a bit of the adobo sauce) for a delicious south-of-the-border tartar that goes great on fish tacos.

Give your tartar some spice by adding ground cayenne pepper or red chili flakes.

Or consider substituting sweet pickle relish for the dills for a deliciously sweet tartar.

I like adding four minced garlic cloves to my tartar sauce to deepen the flavor. And sometimes, I’ll substitute fresh herbs, like thyme, oregano, or chives, for the dill.

There are no hard and fast rules to making great-tasting tartar sauce. Instead, play around with the recipe and discover your favorite version.

What Can I Eat with Captain D’s Tartar Sauce

Of course, Captain D’s tartar sauce is the perfect tartar for crispy fish and chips. But why be limited?

You can use this delicious tartar sauce on so many more dishes. It tastes that good!

  • Serve with grilled asparagus for a great-tasting vegetable side.
  • The fresh dill flavor of Captain D’s pairs well with grilled salmon.
  • Heat your tartar sauce and serve over grilled fish or meats.
  • Goes great with french fries or roasted potatoes.
  • Use instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches.
  • Spice it up with Thai chili paste and serve with seared tuna.
  • Add some chipotle for a great south-of-the-border sauce to serve with fish tacos or burritos.
  • The rich, tangy flavor of Captain D’s tartar sauce pairs well with an ice-cold Pale Ale or chilled glass of Chardonnay

Serve Captain D’s Tartar Sauce Hot or Cold!

When most people think tartar sauce, they think cold.

But Captain D’s tartar sauce tastes great hot and can be used instead of traditional sauces.

Its tanginess adds the perfect flavor to grilled fish and, surprisingly, grilled meats.

Heated and with a bit of red wine vinegar, it makes an excellent sauce for baked or grilled halibut.

In addition, Captain D’s will keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks in an airtight container. However, I wouldn’t recommend freezing it.

Yield: 2 ½ cups of sauce (approx 8 servings)

Captain D's Tartar Sauce Recipe

Captain D's Tartar Sauce

This delicious copycat Captain D's Tartar sauce taste brilliant hot or cold. Plus, it only takes 8 ingredients to make, or can be adapted to suit your dish or taste preferences!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 5 tbsp dill pickles, chopped
  • 3 tbsp white onion, diced
  • Juice from two lemons
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1 ½ tsp yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop the dill pickles to your desired thickness.
  2. Peel and dice the white onion.
  3. Rinse and mince the fresh dill.
  4. Add the mayonnaise, dill pickles, diced onion, lemon juice, minced dill, and yellow mustard to a non-reactive mixing bowl. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated throughout the mayonnaise.
  5. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight to intensify the flavor.
  6. Serve cold, and enjoy!


  • Looking for some spice? Add a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
  • Substitute a sweet or red onion to give your tartar sauce a unique flavor.
  • Add fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, or chives, or substitute them for the dill.
  • Use sweet pickle relish instead of the dill pickles if you prefer a sweeter tartar sauce.
  • Add red wine or balsamic vinegar for a delicious Italian- flavored tartar that goes great with grilled fish.

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Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 234Total Fat: 19.5gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 685mgCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 2g
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