Tartar sauce is best known for its mouth-watering pairing with seafood. But there are so many other things that this creamy and tangy sauce can go on. If you recognize that magic already, you have two options.
You can either pick up a bottle from the market or make your own. You need to know the foods you want it on and to get that just right, you need to know what makes tartar sauce as good as it is. That means taking a look at the flavor and ingredients that make it the delicacy that it is.
Once you learn about those little factors, your ability to buy a great sauce off the shelves and make one at home will both get infinitely better. Of course, you will also know the perfect food combos for this yummy delight.
How to Choose the Best Tartar Sauce
So, whether you are buying it or making it at home, here are a few things to note. We start with the things that will help you buy tartar sauce more efficiently.
Flavor is a very important factor because you need to know if you want to stay in the mainstream or get a little quirky and try some offbeat recipes from leading manufacturers. With tartar, you can get both.
In fact, you can even try buying both types and put them together to make a great combo with your choice of food. That works like gangbusters because a lot of people like to take their tartar sauce with seafood.
And it goes great if you make it a little spicy, if you can handle it. This also keeps the food from being boring, which is the case if you overdo the same flavor combinations.
Now, the flavor is also a matter of personal choice, so you will have to spend some time looking at the ingredients of the choices you have in front of you. This will also help you make a great tartar sauce at home should you get there at some point.
The flavor is also critical, even if you have narrowed down your food choices to seafood. Different dishes work differently with tartar sauces. So, you want to make sure that your choice of tartar sauce has the right amount of vinegar or lemon, depending on the food you are going to pair it with.
Size and Expiry
Next up is the size of the sauce bottle. Typically, you will get tartar sauce in packets, jars or bottles. If you are trying something new and don’t want to risk it, you might want to get packets because they are single-serve and you won’t have to throw out a lot of it if you end up not liking it. Packets are also portable. So, there’s that.
Then there is the plastic bottle option. This is a good quantity and is also very easy to use which is why it is quite popular. A lot of people prefer this option also because it is lightweight. It is a good option for those who have pets and kids around and are afraid that one of the little ones might knock it off the counter.
Then there are the glass jars which are food grade and free from all the chemicals that come with standard plastic bottles. While the health effects of these chemicals can be debated, you want to get a glass jar if you are one of cautious types. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
After you’ve picked the size, you also want to take a look at the packaging for the date of expiry. Typically, tartar sauce is good for about six months after you open it. But you must keep it sealed and in the fridge for that to happen. This works with both plastic and glass containers that have a tight lid.
But that is not always the case. You can see tartar sauce going bad even before it hits the date of expiry. So, how do you know if it’s good and bad? It’s actually really easy. Take a look at its color, texture, smell or taste. Any change and you know it’s time to get rid of the container.
The quality of tartar sauce depends on how you store it. So, find a cool and dry place and keep it there all the times you don’t use it.
Typically, no matter the brand, tartar sauces essentially have the same set of ingredients. The base is made of mayo which contains oil and eggs. This makes it creamy and that’s why it is a good match for many different kinds of foods.
Some brands omit the eggs and use a base made of oil and garlic instead. This makes it a suitable choice for vegans.
The spicy type of tartar sauce contains ingredients like horseradish, jalapeno and mustard seeds. They also have herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro and turmeric, adding to the flavor and fragrance. Some sauces also have lemon, making them extra zingy and a great choice for seafood.
If you like your tartar sauce to have a lot of texture, you should pick one that has onions, cucumbers and pickles chopped into it. This is not just about the flavor profile but also about giving it an added crunch. And they make for an excellent choice if you want to pair them with fried food items.
But if you don’t want these bells and whistles, you should go for something that has basic seasonings, aioli and egg yolks. This also gives you the freedom to add whatever extra ingredients you want.
Our Top 5 Tartar Sauce Recommendations
Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for let’s look at some of the top brands in the market and help you choose the best one for your needs.
1. Beaver Tartar Sauce
This is a very popular choice because it goes well with a variety of foods. It has a high rating on Amazon to prove that very point. It has a rich history as a brand and the taste is pretty great too because of its status as a gourmet sauce.
This one has dill and capers, which gives it that extra tang. But it is simple enough to suit those who don’t want to make a production out of their evening snacks.
This sauce is available in a plastic bottle which makes it easy to use and best of all, there are no preservatives which also makes it a relatively healthier choice too.
- The bottle is well-designed and easy to use
- Value for money
- Has the right amount of flavor add-ons
- Known to be a high-quality sauce
- Not for those who like sweet sauce because there are no ingredients that will balance the zest
2. Frischs Tartar Sauce Original
The second one on our list is highly popular in restaurants like Big Boy and comes in a glass jar. It has been around since 1946 and is a popular name globally. It has the basic ingredients like onions, sweet pickles, spices and egg yolk without any artificial flavors, which is a point in its favor.
Those who have used it say it has a unique taste, making it a great pick not just for seafood but also for fries, beef, and chicken breast.
- Well-established brand
- Best known for quality and flavor
- Glass jar makes it durable and safe
- If you don’t like your tartar sauce tangy, you might want to rethink this one. Because of the dill, it can be stronger than the sweet pickles
3. Louisiana Fish Fry Tartar Sauce
Next up on the list is the tartar sauce that is marketed for fish fry but it does go with other seafood, fried food, sandwiches and more. This sauce comes in a glass jar and is a bit creamy and spicy too. The latter comes from the onion, mustard and garlic.
Most customers who bought this have been happy with its taste and versatility. And maybe that’s because it has a little more tang than sweetness which is quintessentially southern.
- Just the right balance of creamy and spicy
- Works with a whole range of foods
- The glass jar is durable
- The level of corn syrup can be a bit much
4. Inglehoffer Seafood Tartar Sauce
This is a tartar sauce of simple ingredients. It is made of vinegar, egg, cucumber and oil. There’s also a topping of capers and lemons, which adds a little tang to the taste. But it is also equally creamy, which makes this one a pretty good choice too.
And it comes in one of those squeeze bottles, which makes it easy to use. Once you taste it, you will know why it is easy to market this bottle. It’s got everything you want in a good-quality basic tartar sauce.
- Flavor is of high quality
- Bottle is easy to use
- Has a little bit of tang
- If you buy it online, you might not be satisfied with the shipping
5. Kraft Tartar Sauce
And last but most definitely not the least is the tartar sauce from Kraft. This one is sweet and has a little bit of tang, thanks to the onions and mustard in it. You can also find a little crunch in it because of the bits of pickles. It is creamy and smooth too, which works well for sandwiches.
- Comes in a nice squeeze bottle
- Great as a dip and a spread
- It could be considered boring as it is quite close to mayo in flavor
Recipe: Make Your Own Tartar Sauce
If you want to make tartar sauce at home, here’s a simple recipe.
What You Need
- ½ cup of mayo
- 1 tsp mustard
- ¼ tsp onion and garlic powder
- Diced dill pickles
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
Put the ingredients in a food processor and blend them till it turns into a paste. It will last for a week in the fridge.