Captain D’s Tartar Sauce Recipe

Looking for tempting tartar sauce? Aye aye, captain!

Elen Rustick By Updated December 24, 2022

For the perfect seafood dipping sauce, try this copycat Captain D’s tartar sauce recipe! It’s delicious, creamy, and simple to make.

copycat Captain D_s tartar sauce recipe

The tartar sauce at Captain D’s inspired this tangy recipe. Captain D’s restaurants are a fast-casual chain in America that serves high-quality fish and seafood at affordable prices.

In 1969, Raymond L. Danner Sr. opened the first store in Donelson, Tennessee. At that time, he named it Mr. D’s Seafood and Hamburgers.

Today, the restaurants serve everything from lobster, shrimp, and crab to fried fish and chicken sandwiches. And one of their most popular condiments is tartar sauce.

Tartar sauce has a mayonnaise base, but its unique flavor is both tangy and savory. And with just a few ingredients, you can whip it up at home!

In addition to mayo, you add lemon juice, chopped onion, chopped dill pickles, and black pepper. Then, stir everything together, and you can start snacking.

I’ve taken the original recipe and tweaked it a bit to suit my own tastes. And I guarantee: once you start dipping shrimp in this tartar sauce or spreading it on sandwiches, you won’t be able to stop!

Tips and Tricks for Making Captain D’s Tartar Sauce

Make in Advance

Captain D’s tartar sauce recipe will taste best if you let it sit for a few hours in the refrigerator. In fact, I actually prefer eating it the next day!

That way, all of the flavors have a chance to combine and develop into a delicious dipping sauce.

Puree the Tartar Sauce

Sometimes, pieces of dill pickle can make your sauce too chunky for dipping. If this is the case, puree your homemade tartar sauce in the blender or food processor for a few seconds.

That way, you’ll end up with a silky texture.

Spice It Up

Make this delicious tartar sauce your own with some extra ingredients. For example, add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce or a little dijon mustard for an extra kick.

Or, add other spices like garlic powder, onion powder, or dill weed.

All About Captain D’s Tartar Sauce Recipe Ingredients


Although lots of American dishes use mayonnaise, this sauce actually comes from France. To make it from scratch, cooks slowly drizzle oil into raw egg yolks while beating the mixture.

This forms the popular creamy emulsion we all know and love.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a very popular ingredient in American kitchens, and you find it in everything from savory dishes to desserts. Because it’s very acidic, it adds tanginess to your cooking.

As well, lemon juice tastes great on poultry and seafood! In many restaurants, chefs serve lemon wedges alongside the entree so you can add a few drops to your food.

In Captain D’s tartar sauce recipe, lemon juice brightens the flavor of the sauce and keeps the mayonnaise from tasting too heavy.

As an alternative, you can use dill pickle juice instead.


Onions are a versatile vegetable that cooks around the world use to enhance their dishes. In fact, they’re great in everything from salads to stews, sandwiches, and appetizers.

In addition to flavor, onions also add texture and color to dishes. So, it’s no wonder that most recipes start by chopping an onion!

I love the sharp taste of white onions. But if you prefer a milder flavor, use a yellow onion or saute a white one before adding it to your dish.


For a crunchy, tangy, salty condiment, pickles are a great option! They’re a versatile food that adds spices and flavor to your meal.

While you can pickle many different vegetables, cucumbers are a popular option. In Captain D’s recipe, the pickle adds acidity and a delightful crunchy texture.

Dill pickles are cucumbers soaked in a mix of spices that include dill weed. As well, the vinegar and sugar in the brine give the pickles a sweet and sour flavor.

For this tartar sauce, I like to use traditional dill pickles. However, swap in a sweet pickles or a little sweet pickle relish if you prefer a sweeter flavor.

Some also like to use dill relish. It’s entirely up to you!

copycat Captain D_s tartar sauce recipe_

Captain D's Tartar Sauce Recipe

  • Prep Time10 min
  • Cook Time0 min
  • Total Time10 min
  • Servings40
  • Yield1½ quarts

Level: Easy




  1. Mix the Sauce

    In your mixing bowl, add all of the tartar sauce ingredients except for the pepper and salt. Then, stir everything together until it’s uniform.

  2. Season the Sauce

    Next, stir in the pepper. Then, taste your tartar sauce and add extra salt if you need it.

  3. Chill the Sauce

    Spoon the tartar sauce into the airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. Chill the tartar sauce for 30 minutes or more.

    Finally, add a big spoonful to any meal!

copycat Captain D_s tartar sauce recipe serve

Accompaniments For Captain D’s Tartar Sauce

Seafood Dishes

I love serving tartar sauce with a seafood dish because the condiment isn’t overpowering. Seafood often has a delicate flavor and aroma, and you don’t want to cover that up with your condiment.

So, try this delicious sauce with dishes such as fried oysters or calamari, grilled shrimp, or crab cakes.

Fish Dishes

Along with seafood, fish is a great option to serve with Captain D’s tartar sauce. You can slather this condiment on steamed or grilled fish, such as sea bass, swordfish, or catfish.

Of course, tartar sauce is also the perfect dip for fish sticks!

One of the reasons that tartar sauce goes so well with fish is its acidity. This helps to cut through a really strong “fishy” taste.

However, tartar sauce is delicate enough that you’ll still taste the meat.

Fish Sandwich

To make a classic seaside lunch, slather some tartar sauce on a bun, add a piece of freshly-fried cod, and sprinkle on a little extra chopped onion. Yum!

Beef Burger

For a neat twist on a typical burger, swap Captain D’s tartar sauce for regular mayo on your favorite patty.
Captain D’s Tartar Sauce Storage Instructions
In the refrigerator, your tartar sauce will last for about 3 to 5 days.

However, tartar sauces and other mayonnaise based-sauces don’t freeze well: when you thaw them, the texture changes.

So, eat your sauce up quickly!

copycat Captain D_s tartar sauce recipe - Pinterest

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
  • 94Calories
  • 7.9gFat
  • 6gCarbs
  • 0.3gProtein
Show Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 94
% Daily Value*
Total Fat7.9g10%
Saturated Fat1.2g 6%
Cholesterol6mg 2%
Sodium215mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate6g 2%
Dietary Fiber0.1g 0%
Total Sugars1.7g
Vitamin C0mcg 0%
Calcium4mg 0%
Iron0mg 0%
Potassium9mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.