Tartar Sauce Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Tartar sauce

Verywell / Emily Rose 

Tartar sauce is a condiment often served with fried fish dishes such as fish and chips, fish sandwiches, or fried oysters. Some people also dip other fried foods (like French fries) in tartar sauce. The sauce originated, however, as an accompaniment to steak tartare, which is finely minced raw beef. The condiment got its name because it was the sauce that often accompanied the French meat delicacy.

Today, tartar sauce is usually a combination of ingredients including mayonnaise, pickles, dill, and lemon but recipes vary. It may also contain capers, mustard, or different types of herbs, such as tarragon. It's easy to find tartar sauce on grocery store shelves around the country. It's also easy to make tartar sauce at home.

The way that tartar is made will determine the calorie content and nutritional profile. For example, some store-bought varieties may contain added sugars. But tartar sauce is usually consumed in small amounts, so it may not have a substantial impact on your overall eating plan.

Tartar Sauce Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a two-tablespoon (28g) serving of tartar sauce.

  • Calories: 59
  • Fat: 4.7g
  • Sodium: 187mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.7g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Sugars: 1.2g
  • Protein: 0.3g

Carbs

A two-tablespoon serving of tartar sauce is likely to contain about 59 calories and roughly 3.7 grams of carbohydrates. There is just a small amount of fiber (0.1 grams) in tartar sauce, and there are about 1.2 grams of sugar.

The typical serving size of tartar sauce can vary. For instance, the USDA indicates that a large fish sandwich is likely to contain about two tablespoons of tartar sauce (28g), but a regular fish sandwich is likely to contain half that amount (14g). A packet of tartar sauce that you might get at a fast-food restaurant is likely to contain about 12 grams or slightly less than one tablespoon.

Few people measure tartar sauce when using it as a dipping sauce with fish and chips. But the USDA estimates that a dipping size container is likely to contain about 28 grams of tartar sauce.

There is no recorded glycemic index for tartar sauce or for mayonnaise, the main ingredient. But since the food is low in carbohydrates the glycemic index is probably low. Also, since it is generally consumed in a small amount the glycemic load is also likely to be low.

Fats

Tartar sauce is relatively high in fat—especially when compared to other condiments served with fish, such as ketchup or vinegar. There are 4.7 grams of fat in a serving of tartar sauce. About 0.9 grams is saturated fat. About 1 gram is monounsaturated fat and 2.5 grams are polyunsaturated fat.

Protein

A single serving of tartar sauce is not a significant source of protein, with most brands providing about one gram. Making your tartar sauce at home with Greek yogurt can increase the amount of protein in the dressing.

Vitamins and Minerals

A single serving of tartar sauce does not contribute many substantial vitamins or minerals, except for vitamin K. Vitamin K is one of four fat-soluble vitamins that is absorbed along with dietary fat and can be stored in the body's fatty tissue.

A single serving (28g) of tartar sauce provides about 14.1 micrograms of vitamin K, according to USDA data. The recommended daily value for adults is 120 mcg, so tartar sauce would contribute approximately 12% of the recommended intake.

Health Benefits

Tartar sauce is usually consumed in small quantities, and for most people it is not a part of their regular diet. So it may not play a substantial role in your overall health. But there are some nutrients in the sauce, such as vitamin K, that can have an impact on your health.

May Help Protect Bone Health

Vitamin K is important for strong bones. If you are deficient in vitamin K, you are at a higher risk for osteoporosis. There is some research on postmenopausal women that has suggested that vitamin K supplementation can improve bone health. But getting the nutrient from food may allow you to benefit from other nutrients.

For example, if you put tartar sauce on salmon or another fatty fish, in addition to the vitamin K in the sauce, you'll get vitamin D, which assists in calcium absorption, and omega-3 fatty acids, which may also help bones.

May Protect Cardiovascular Health

There is some limited evidence that low blood levels of vitamin K may increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Some research suggests that when there is not enough vitamin K, the blood vessels that feed the heart become stiffer and narrower.

However, more research is needed to understand the relationship and much of the current research is investigating the role of vitamin K supplements.

May Reduce the Risk of Vitamin K Deficiency

Vitamin K deficiency in adults is very rare. But severe cases of deficiency can lead to bleeding and hemorrhage or reduce boned mineralization leading to osteoporosis. Consuming foods with vitamin K can help ensure that you get the amount that your body needs to function properly.

May Help Increase Seafood Consumption

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggested that most Americans eat less than the recommended intake of seafood. In fact, the report stated that about three-quarters of Americans meet or exceed the recommendation for meats, poultry, and eggs, but almost 90% do not meet the recommendation for seafood.

Current dietary guidelines, recommend that Americans of all ages—including young children and pregnant women—eat seafood at least twice a week.

For some people, flavor is a barrier to consuming more seafood. In fact, one popular journal wrote that Americans consume less seafood than is recommended because fish doesn't taste like chicken.

For some people, dressing up seafood with a familiar condiment like tartar sauce may help make fish more palatable and help them reach their recommended intake.

Allergies

Those with an egg allergy should not consume products that are made with mayonnaise, including tartar sauce. Symptoms of an egg allergy include vomiting, stomach cramps, indigestion, diarrhea, wheezing, and swelling of the lips or tongue.

It is also possible to be allergic to other ingredients in tartar sauce such as mustard or dill. Lemon juice is another ingredient that may cause reactions in those with a citrus allergy. If you have any known food allergies, check the ingredients list carefully before consuming tartar sauce. Or make your own at home so that you can control the ingredients.

Adverse Effects

If you take a blood thinner like Coumadin (warfarin), vitamin K can interfere with the anticoagulant effects of your medication. It is usually advised to maintain a consistent intake of vitamin K while on anticoagulants so your doctor can prescribe the right dosage of medication based on your typical eating habits.

Vitamin K may also interfere with other medications, including bile acid sequestrants (to lower blood cholesterol levels), certain antibiotics, or the weight loss drug orlistat (alli and Xenical). If you are on any medication, it is always smart to speak to your healthcare provider about any dietary changes you need to make.

Also, if you are watching your salt intake, you may want to be mindful about portion control when consuming tartar sauce. The American Heart Association suggests that we consume no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. They suggest that an ideal limit is no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially for those with high blood pressure.

A single-serving of tartar sauce provides about 187 milligrams of sodium which is only 8% of the limit recommended by the American Heart Association. But since the sauce is often served with salty foods (such as fish and chips) you may want to be mindful of portion control if you are watching your salt intake.

And lastly, some popular brands of tartar sauce, such as Hellman's, are labelled as gluten-free. But it is always smart to check the label before you buy if you are following a gluten-free diet.

Varieties

There aren't necessarily different varieties of tartar sauce, but there are hundreds of different brands on the market and ingredients can vary. Many list water, soybean oil, and distilled vinegar as first ingredients (in that order). You may also see ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, added salt, sweet pickle relish, egg yolk, corn starch, or lemon juice. As you might imagine, nutrition facts will also vary based on ingredients.

Nutritional Information of Tartar Sauce Brands

The nutritional information below is provided by the USDA for different brands of tartar sauce. Data is listed for a serving size of two tablespoons:

  • Heinz tartar sauce provides 90 calories, 8g of fat, 210mg of sodium, 4g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of protein.
  • Bob's tartar sauce provides 160 calories, 19g of fat, 180mg of sodium, 1g of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein.
  • Winn-Dixie tartar sauce provides 80 calories, 0g of fat, 330mg of sodium, 5g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein.
  • Silver Spoon tartar sauce provides 90 calories, 7g of fat, 260mg of sodium, 6g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein.
  • Kraft tartar sauce provides 70 calories, 6g of fat, 200mg of sodium, 4g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein
  • Shurfine tartar sauce provides 140 calories, 14g of fat, 250mg of sodium, 1g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein.
  • Roundy's tartar sauce provides 60 calories, 5g of fat, 170mg of sodium, 4g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein.
  • McCormick & Company tartar sauce provides 120 calories, 11g of fat, 170mg of sodium, 4g of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein
  • Whole Foods Market Lemon Dill Tartar Sauce provides 160 calories, 18g of fat, 260mg of sodium, og of carbohydrates, and 0g of protein.

If you prefer to make your own tartar sauce at home, you can control the ingredients. So if you are looking to cut back on added sugar or sodium, making your own at home might be the best choice.

When It’s Best

Tartar sauce is available all year long in supermarkets.

Storage and Food Safety

Once it is opened, a bottle of tartar sauce should be kept in the refrigerator. Like mayonnaise, it will stay fresh for about two months when refrigerated after opening.

Before it is opened, shelf-stable brands will stay fresh in the pantry for about 3 to 6 months, but follow manufacturer's instructions for proper storage and handling.

Tartar sauce does not freeze well.

How to Prepare

You can make your own tartar sauce at home with your favorite fresh ingredients. Simply combine a cup of mayonnaise, with about a half cup of pickle relish or chopped pickles. Use sweet pickles (like bread and butter pickles) if you prefer a sweeter tartar sauce. If you like a more savory sauce, choose dill pickles. If you're looking to cut fat or calories, you can also opt for low-fat mayonnaise. You can also use plain Greek yogurt.

Then experiment with your favorite seasonings. For example, add fresh or dried dill, mustard (yellow or dijon), capers, lemon juice, or vinegar. Some people even add horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, or cayenne pepper. Once the ingredients are mixed, refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Of course, you can dip fish sticks or fish and chips into tartar sauce, but you can also use it like a salad dressing. Drizzle it on a bed of fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other veggies. Or use it as a dipping sauce for crunchy veggies like carrots, peppers, or celery.

You can top your baked potato with tartar sauce, or use it as a dipping sauce for buffalo wings. Many people like tartar sauce on a fish sandwich or with fish tacos, but you can also use it on any sandwich with cold cuts, poultry, or roasted vegetables. You can also drizzle beef tartare with tartar sauce and enjoy it as it was originally consumed.

Recipes

Healthy Fish Recipes to Try

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