The Spicy Upgrade You Need To Make With Tartar Sauce

A plate of fish and chips or fried oysters are commonly paired with a ramekin filled with tartar sauce — but the condiment is far from an afterthought. It's creamy and tangy in its purest form, but it is also fairly mild. So, for seafood lovers who also appreciate a dose of heat in each bite of their food, tartar sauce could benefit from a spicy boost. To make it happen, a generous dash of your favorite hot sauce is the only extra ingredient you'll need.

There are many interesting facts about tartar sauce like how some versions contain more ingredients than you might realize. The most basic recipe for tartar sauce might have mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, and lemon juice, while elevated takes add capers or Worcestershire sauce. That means hot sauce can really stand out and easily add spiciness. You can add a few teaspoons of hot sauce to any brand of store-bought tartar sauce, or mix it into a homemade version like Tasting Table's simple tartar sauce recipe that uses dried dill as well as chopped dill pickles.

Consider your spice tolerance

To add the spicy essence of chilis to tartar sauce, grab your favorite brand of hot sauce. If you don't use it often, Frank's Red Hot or Valentina are good options for milder heat, Tabasco is a classic choice that provides a bit more kick, or go with brands like Crystal or Cholula for more spice. Still not sure? Look through our ranked list of grocery store hot sauces or you could even make your own hot sauce. But only you know your spice tolerance, so start with a couple of dashes, and add more to taste. Hot sauce is the easiest option to add heat to tartar sauce, but other ingredients work too. Consider cayenne pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes, chilis in adobo sauce (dice the peppers or just use the sauce), or the brine from canned jalapeños or cherry peppers to add heat to the condiment.

Use your spicy tartar sauce to pair with an array of seafood dishes, like a batch of classic British fish and chips or panko fried shrimp. Tasting Table's shrimp Po'boy sandwich and our classic Maryland crab cakes are delicious vessels for a piquant tartar sauce. Or add a dollop or two of spiced-up tartar sauce to your favorite fish tacos recipe. And for less conventional ways to use the leftovers, use it as a dip for your fries and onion rings, or to spruce up deviled eggs, baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, and chicken tenders.