Tartar sauce is the best companion for battered fish and crispy French fries. And Captain D’s is the ultimate tartar sauce.

Although you won’t find the original recipe anywhere online, we’ve developed a formula for Captain D’s tartar sauce that tastes so much like the original that you won’t be able to tell the difference.

The ingredients are simple, but the taste is far from it. You can make this mouthwatering sauce in just a few minutes to add some creaminess and tang to your dinner, or whip up a last-minute condiment everyone will love at your next party.

Below you will learn how to make our recipe for Captain D’s tartar sauce and a few variations that will turn any dish into a unique culinary experience.

What Is Captain D’s Tartar Sauce?

Captain D's Tartar Sauce

Captain D’s is a restaurant that started in Donelson, Tennessee, in 1969 under the name Mr. D’s Seafood. Since then, the popular restaurant chain has provided families with delicious fish fried for generations.

Their mouthwatering tartar sauce is not available for purchase in your local supermarket. But that doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the nostalgia of Captain D’s right at home. With our recipe for Captain D’s sauce, you can make it yourself with just a few common ingredients.

This version of Captain D’s famous sauce is perfect for all sauce lovers, including those who are trying to stay healthy. Every item on this ingredient list not only tastes good but is packed with nutritional benefits. Your taste buds will thank you for every bite, and your friends will ask you to bring this condiment over to every get-together.

The ingredients are a perfect combination of creamy, tangy, and zesty – all the flavors you need for a sauce that is perfect on fried fish.

Ingredients for Captain D’s Famous Sauce


Mayonnaise is the base ingredient in our recipe for Captain D’s tartar sauce.

If you make your own mayonnaise, this is the best time to use it. Homemade mayonnaise will give it the flavor you’re looking for. However, store-bought mayonnaise will do just fine if you’re in a pickle or haven’t made your own before.

If you choose store-bought mayonnaise, we recommend skipping the Miracle Whip. The taste of Miracle Whip is not complementary to the other ingredients and will not create the desired flavor profile.

Yellow Mustard

Yellow mustard is what gives the tartar sauce its tangy flavor. You can substitute traditional yellow mustard with Dijon or whole-grain mustard, depending on your preferences.

Lemon Juice

Fresh lemons are best. However, you can use bottled lemon juice if you have it available. Be careful not to use more than the recommended amount, or it may cause the sauce to be too tangy or runny.

Dill Pickles

Use any dill pickles, including your own. For a sweeter taste, you can substitute the dill pickles for pickle relish.


White onion is recommended, but you can use red onion instead if you prefer a stronger onion taste. Dicing the onion will also create a stronger flavor than using larger, coarser slices.

Fresh Dill

Fresh dill is essential in this recipe. If you are unable to find fresh dill, then you can use dried dill instead, but the flavor won’t be totally authentic.

Keep in mind that only half the amount of dry dill should be used. Otherwise, the taste will be too strong and cover up the other herbs and spices you use.

Salt and Black Pepper

Sea salt and fresh black pepper are highly recommended for seasoning. Salt highlights the taste of the other ingredients in the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste to prevent over-seasoning.


  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 5 tbsp chopped dill pickles
  • 3 tbsp diced white onion
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped dill weed
  • 1½ tsp yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Our Recipe for Captain D’s Tartar Sauce

Below are the five quick and easy steps to our tried and true recipe for Captain D’s tartar sauce.

Step One

Peel the outer layer off the onion and chop it into pieces according to your preference. It can be chopped finely or stay coarse, depending on what you like.

Pour the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and mustard into a large mixing bowl. Then add the chopped dill pickles and diced up dill weed.

Step Two

Mix everything together gently. Thoroughly combine everything before moving on to the next step.

Make sure all chopped ingredients are evenly mixed throughout. You don’t want any large clumps anywhere in the mixture.

Step Three

Generously season the mixture with freshly ground pepper. Taste the mixture and add pepper and salt as needed.

Don’t hesitate to add more or less of any ingredients to achieve the desired taste and consistency.

Step Four

Cover the top of the bowl and allow it to chill for at least an hour. You can leave the bowl in the fridge overnight for stronger flavors. The longer the bowl chills, the more potent the flavors will be.

Step Five:

Stir the sauce before serving cold. Now it’s time to enjoy!


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon or spatula
  • Cling wrap


  • If you’re in the mood for spicy sauce, consider adding a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. This spice will bring the heat and add another layer of flavor to this tasty sauce.
  • Instead of using a white onion, you can replace it with a red or sweet onion. This substitution will give it a unique flavor and allow you to make the sauce your own.
  • If you want to use some of the herbs in your spice rack, add chives, oregano, or thyme for extra flavor. You can use any one of these in place of dill weed if you prefer.
  • For those with more of a sweet tooth, you can also substitute the dill for pickle relish without overpowering the other flavors.
  • For an Italian twist, add red wine or balsamic vinegar. This version of Captain D’s tartar sauce goes best with grilled fish.

What to Consider When Making Your Own Version of Captain D’s Famous Sauce

This recipe for Captain D’s tartar sauce is excellent as is. But you can add additional ingredients to jazz it up.

To make it spicier, you can add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. On the other end of the spectrum, you can use sweet pickles or pickle relish to make the sauce sweeter.

If you’re making the tartar sauce to go with fresh tuna, you may want to consider adding Thai chili to your ingredient list to give it a unique flavor. These additional ingredients will go well with most Asian fish dishes.

You can also deepen the flavors with fresh herbs in your spice cabinet or by adding some minced garlic.

Cooking is all about having fun. So try out some of these suggestions and see which versions of the sauce are your favorite!

What to Eat With Captain D’s Tartar Sauce

What to Eat With Captain D's Tartar Sauce

As mentioned, Captain D’s tartar sauce is the best condiment for battered fish. But why stop there?

You can pair this delicious sauce with a number of other dishes. These are some of the best:

  • This recipe for Captain D’s tartar sauce is made for fish dishes, but it’s great on chicken too. Whether it’s crispy or grilled, Captain D’s is the must-have condiment for your plate.
  • Fish isn’t the only seafood that Captain D’s tartar sauce tastes good with. Calamari and prawns also pair well with this recipe.
  • French Fries. French fries and other fried potato variations bring out all the flavors of this tartar Captain D’s will make any fried side dishes mouthwateringly good.
  • You can also use it as a drizzle for a salad entree or side salad to add personality to every bite.

When it comes to tartar sauce, most people eat it cold. And depending on the dish, that may be the best way to eat it. However, you can also eat it hot.

You can add ingredients, such as red wine vinegar, to give it some tanginess. This goes great with white fish and veggies.

If you’ve finished your meal and still have some sauce left, you don’t have to throw it out. Captain D’s tartar sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks after being made. Don’t freeze it, though – it’ll throw off the texture completely.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoy our recipe for Captain D’s tartar sauce. It’s a classic! Although it was originally created to accompany battered fish and French fries, you can add it to almost anything.

What makes it such a hit is how simple the recipe is and how easy it is to make at home. So, stop waiting and get started on making your new favorite condiment! Enjoy it with your next dinner or another meal that calls for a creamy and zesty tartar sauce.

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