This vegan tartare sauce is the perfect partner to vegan 'fish' & chips. Salty and sour - pile it onto your crispy fried batter and chunky chips.
I'm doing a bit of a two-part post this week, in celebration of a very traditional British comfort-food feast - a fish & chip supper, or in this case, a vegan 'beer-battered banana blossom fish' and chip supper. You can hop over to the 'fish' recipe here, and read on for the all-important tartare sauce.
If you're reading from across the pond wondering what on earth is going on, tartare sauce is a condiment traditionally served with a British fish & chip supper. Made from creamy mayonnaise with capers, gherkins, fresh herbs and lemon, it is sour, salty, piquant and creamy all at the same time. Practically perfect for cutting through the batter (and, let's face it, grease) that is all-important to a deep-fried dinner.
It has been many years since I've tried tartare sauce out of a sachet or bottle, (I don't think any pre-made vegan versions exist, do correct me if I'm wrong). But I remember it being pretty dreadful stuff - like comparing a cheap, watery salad cream to a homemade mayonnaise made from extra-virgin olive oil. But homemade tartare sauce is something else. You can make it at home in less than five minutes, and probably have all the ingredients in your cupboards already.
Whether you're planning a homemade 'fish' and chip supper using my Banana Blossom Fish & Chips recipe, or if you have a lovely local chippie like the one in my village with a vegan menu, (whoop!), tartare sauce will lift your supper to a whole new level.
So go on, get out your gherkins and crack open your capers.... you need some homemade vegan tartare sauce on those chips!
📝 What you need
Vegan mayonnaise In the last few years the range and quality of ready-made vegan mayonnaise available in supermarkets has improved dramatically. When I first tried the Hellmans Vegan Mayo a few years ago I genuinely couldn't tell the difference from their non-vegan version. Vegan mayonnaise is also straightforward to make, especially in a blender or food processor. I have a recipe here for Pea & Wasabi Vegan Mayo but you could simply leave out the peas and wasabi to make a plain mayo for the basis of this tartare sauce.
Capers There are two ways to buy capers - either in brine, or 'dry' salted capers. In tartare sauce I much prefer the dry version, (though they do need a rinse or they would be overly salty). They have more bite and texture to them, whilst the brined capers can be a little on the mushy side. But either will work fine, it is a matter of personal preference.
Gherkins Look for the small, whole gherkins (or cornichons, what a fabulous word), rather than large slices of gherkin in brine. And once again, give them a good rinse and pat dry before adding to the sauce. You can always add a little salt at the end if necessary, but you can't take it out!
Parsley gives a fresh zing of grassy green in the sauce, a great partner to the sour capers and gherkins, and lovely with your vegan 'fish'. Don't skimp on it! Chives also work really well in tartare sauce, if you have some to hand on in your garden.
Lemon juice The final flourish - you can add as much or as little as you like to your own taste.
🤔 How do I serve tartare sauce?
The classic pairing for tartare sauce is fried food and chips. The salty-sour sauce is just perfect piled onto freshly fried batter. Have you tried my Vegan Banana Blossom Fish & Chips pictured below?
But if you've made up a batch of tartare sauce and have some left over, how else could you serve it? I think it works really well with:
- Tempura Vegetables for the same reason as it works with 'fish' & chips - a piquant and creamy sauce to cut through the batter.
- In a Vegan Burger. I rarely eat a vegan burger without a dollop of mayo and a generous pile of gherkins, so tartare sauce is an obvious condiment to pile in instead. I actually tried this last week when I was testing the recipe and it was incredibly good. Take a look at my Black Bean & Japaleño Burger or my Marmite & Chilli Burger.
- In a Lunchtime Wrap with shredded lettuce and vegan 'fish fingers' or goujons (Waitrose do some lovely fish-less goujons and I've heard great things about Moving Mountains Fish Fingers too).
🍟 What else can I serve with vegan 'fish' & chips?
A proper 'fish' & chip supper is made extra special by all the bits on the side. As it is a fairly occasional treat, I like to go the whole hog when we do homemade 'fish' & chips, with:
- Homemade ketchup like my epic Beetroot & Chilli Ketchup - it has quite a kick to it, but you can leave out the chilli if you prefer.
- Mushy peas which I make quite simply by boiling peas, draining them then mashing with a potato masher with a little vegan butter. Or if you want a more authentic chip shop flavour, there's a good BBC recipe using Marrowfat Peas - just replace the butter with vegan block margarine.
- Salt and vinegar mustn't be skimped on.
- Pickled onions but they must be really big and very sharp ones, (not the puny little silverskins you get on sticks!)
- ....and of course your very own homemade Vegan Tartare Sauce!
What else do you serve with your vegan 'fish' & chip suppers?
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For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
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Vegan Tartare Sauce
- 4 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tsp capers
- 2 tsp gherkins
- 2 tsp fresh parsley
- lemon juice
- Put the mayonnaise into a small bowl or jug.
- Rinse the capers and gherkins and pat them dry, then finely chop and add to the mayonnaise.
- Finely chop the parsley and stir through the sauce.
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice, taste and add more a little at a time until it is to your taste.