How To Make Tartar Sauce Without Capers

Tartar sauce is a classic offered with fish and chips, but it can also be served fried seafood and other dishes like sandwiches, burgers and even used as a salad dressing. 

While the traditional recipe includes capers, these ingredients don’t have to be there if you don’t like them or don’t have them on hand. 

This article will provide you with all the possible alternatives for making tartar sauce without capers.

What Is The Purpose Of Capers In Tartar Sauce?

If typically the case that you’ve enjoyed the nice tangy flavor of tartar sauce without actually knowing or bothering to know the essential role capers play in the condiment. 

Truth is however, capers is quite a heavy and key ingredient in Tartar sauce, as pairing it with ingredients like mayonnaise, lemon juice and pickles, bring complexity and balance to the mix. 

Here are the different ways that capers affect the entire flavor of tartar sauce.


One of the main roles capers play is lending their natural saltiness to tartar sauce. This salty character helps harmonize the sweetness of mayonnaise and acidity from lemon juice, so as to create a well-rounded taste.


In addition to saltiness, capers impart a distinct savoriness that works harmoniously with other ingredients to lift their flavors and draw out their best qualities — that what a savory component mostly does to creamy bases. 


A great sauce isn’t just about flavor – texture also plays a significant role, as we’ve seen with Tartar sauce. Capers add a pleasant, slightly crunchy texture to tartar sauce that makes each bite more interesting and satisfying. Paired with the additional crunch from relish? Makes everything even more engulfing. 

Special Flavor

Finally, capers boast a one-of-a-kind taste that cannot be exactly replicated by any other ingredient. Their unmistakable flavor imbues tartar sauce with a unique identity and charm that sets it apart from other condiments on the market.

What Can I Use Instead Of Capers In Tartar Sauce?

At times, you may find yourself craving a tasty tartar sauce to accompany your fried fish or other seafood dishes, only to realize that you’ve run out of capers. 

We’ll, in this case, we have some excellent alternatives for you that can still yield a decent Tartar sauce without those briny, salty capers.

Skip the Capers

You can always ditch the capers and proceed with the recipe as-is, but the caveat to doing so is that the sauce will undoubtedly be missing that distinctive tang and saltiness. 

To make up for their absence, consider adding a bit more lemon juice and salt to balance out the flavors.

Green Olives

A fantastic substitute for capers is green olives. With their savory taste, saltiness and slight tanginess, they can easily mimic the briny sensation that capers provide. Simply chop them finely and add them to your tartar sauce in place of capers in a 1:1 measurement. 

Pickled Nasturtium Seed

Although not as commonly found in grocery stores, pickled nasturtium seeds are another excellent alternative to capers. Their crunchy texture and vinegary bite make them a perfect addition to your tartar sauce if you’re looking for something outside the box.

Don’t Forget the Dill Pickles

While it’s not a direct replacement for capers, ensuring that dill pickles are included in your tartar sauce recipe is crucial for maintaining its tangy and flavorful character (it should by default). If you’ve already got dill pickles in your mix, simply adjust their quantity slightly to compensate for any missing flavor from the omitted capers.

How To Make Tartar Sauce Without Pickles

Whipping up a batch of tartar sauce without pickles might seem like an impossible task, since most recipes even call for both relish and pickles, but we’re here to show you just how simple and delicious it can be.

To begin, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Kewpie works wonders here)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped dill
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped (no rinsing or blotting necessary)

The supplementary ingredient here is shallot of course, and offers a similar texture while keeping the flavor profile balanced without being overpowering. 

It’s presence has nothing to do (directly) with replacing the kissing taste of pickles as the drained and chopped capers alon side, the dill and lemon juice would help to bring in some of that fermented flavors of the pickles. 

With your ingredients assembled, it’s time to create your masterpiece.

Simply combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. To get the best flavors possible, store your homemade tartar sauce in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. 

What Are The Optional Ingredients In Tartar Sauce?

As much as tartar sauce is flexible and can include a ton of other ingredients besides the staple of Mayo, lemon juice and pickle, it’s crucial to know which ingredients you can leave out so you don’t freak out when you don’t have them. 

Here’s a list of ingredients you really don’t need when making a basic tartar sauce:

  • Yellow Mustard
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Onion or shallot
  • Garlic
  • Dijon mustard
  • Seasoning
  • Herbs

3 Ingredients Tartar Sauce

There’s a saying, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, and truly, it does apply to making tartar sauce. 

Liven up your fish and chips, seafood dishes or even sandwiches with this essential 3-ingredient tartar sauce which takes very little time to create. 


  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

To whip up this fuss-free tartar sauce, simply combine all three ingredients in a bowl, stirring until they’re well mixed. 

Let the sauce chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

What Are Some Alternatives To Tartar Sauce?

If you’ve found yourself in a pinch or simply want to change up your dipping game, there are a handful of fabulous alternatives to tartar sauce. 

Here’s a list of some mouthwatering options for you to explore:


Aioli is a delicious creamy and garlicky mayo-based sauce perfect for dipping fried seafood or slathering on sandwiches.


This tangy and robust French-inspired sauce is made with mayonnaise, mustard capers, chopped pickles, herbs and spices — nearly the same ingredients as Tartar sauce. It’s perfect for pairing with fish cakes or shrimp and adds an elegant touch to any dish.


A refreshingly cool Greek dip made from yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and dill. Tzatziki works wonders with grilled seafood or as a dip for crunchy veggies. It’s an excellent choice if you’re seeking a lighter alternative to Tartar sauce.

Thousand Island dressing

A delightful combination of mayonnaise, ketchup, sweet pickle relish, and finely chopped onion makes this classic dressing an ideal stand-in for tartar sauce. Try it with your next batch of fish sticks or crispy calamari.

Sriracha Mayo

For those craving a bit of heat with their seafood fare, sriracha mayo offers the creaminess of traditional tartar sauce but packs quite the punch thanks to its fiery hot sauce counterpart.

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