Kitchen Tips

How Long Is Tartar Sauce Good For? (storage tips)

Have you ever reached for your jar of sauce in your fridge and thought, “How long is tartar sauce good for?” You’ve come to the right place. We’ll be talking about how long tartar sauce stays fresh and how to identify when it’s time to toss it in the garbage.

Few things pair better with tartar sauce than crab cakes, air fried fish sticks or salmon burgers. The only problem is, like all good things, tartar sauce does not last forever. Here’s a little overview of how to enjoy it at peak quality.

If you’re making this during lent, you have to try this cute rainbow fruit platter! St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner.

Homemade sauce can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

How Long is Tartar Sauce good for?

The shelf life of your sauce depends on whether it’s store-bought or homemade:

Store-bought tartar sauce:

  • Unopened: Typically lasts for 2 months after the expiration date printed on the packaging, as long as it’s stored in a cool, dry pantry.
  • Opened: Once opened, store it in the refrigerator and storage time should last for up to 2 months.

Homemade tartar sauce:

  • Since this lacks preservatives, homemade tartar sauce has a shorter lifespan. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.

General tips for storing tartar sauce:

  • Always store your sauce in an airtight container to prevent spoilage and contamination.
  • Do not leave your sauce out at room temperature for extended periods.
  • Discard any sauce that shows signs of spoilage, such as discoloration, off odor, or mold growth.

Since this sauce has eggs and oil, we need to keep it in the fridge to stop it from spoiling.

Understanding Tartar Sauce

This is a creamy condiment made of simple ingredients:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Chopped pickles (or pickle relish)
  • Capers
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Fresh herbs (such as dill or tarragon)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: finely chopped onions or shallots
  • Optional: dijon mustard or horseradish for an extra kick

It’s creamy and a bit tangy. A splash of lemon juice or vinegar gives it a zesty flavor. These ingredients make this sauce taste so good, especially with your favorite seafood dishes.

The mayonnaise base in tartar sauce comes from mixing egg yolks and oil and adding something acidic like vinegar or fresh lemon juice. This mix not only makes it tasty but also helps keep it from going bad too quickly.

Since it has eggs and oil, we need to keep it in the fridge to stop it from spoiling. It can last a different amount of time depending on if you buy it from the store or make it yourself, and storage conditions.

How to Store Opened Sauce

Always refrigerate tartar sauce, whether store-bought sauces or homemade.

Close the lid tightly after each use to keep air and germs out.

For homemade sauce, use a clean, airtight container to store it.

Keeping your sauce cold and well-sealed helps maintain its freshness and safety.

How to Store Unopened Sauce

  • Keep it Cool: Store your unopened tartar sauce in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. A pantry or cupboard is perfect.
  • Check the Label: Some sauces might need refrigeration even when unopened, so it’s always a good idea to check the label for storage instructions.
  • Avoid Heat Sources: Keep your sauce away from any heat sources, like ovens or stovetops, to prevent it from getting warm. (Sometimes easier said than done)
  • Use Before Best By Date: For the best quality, try to use the your sauce before the “best by” date on the jar. You can sometimes use it up to 2 months after expiration date based off conditions.

The smell, color change or texture of your sauce may tell you the tartar sauce is expired.

Signs of Spoiled Tartar Sauce


If it smells off or different than when it was fresh, it might be spoiled.

Color Change:

A change in color or the appearance of mold indicates it’s time to discard it.


If the sauce becomes lumpy or watery instead of smooth/creamy texture, it’s no longer good.

Trust Your Senses:

When in doubt, it’s safer to throw it out. If something seems off, don’t eat it.

Ideas to Use with your Tartar Sauce

  • Spread on Sandwiches: Adds a tangy twist to your usual sandwich.
  • Mix into Potato Salad: Acts like a salad dressing and gives extra flavor to potato salad.
  • Dip for Fried Veggies: Perfect as a dip for crispy fried vegetables.
  • Zesty Deviled Eggs: Incorporate into your deviled eggs for a zesty flavor.
  • Tuna or Chicken Salad: Stir some into tuna or chicken salad for a fun dinner twist.

Whether you’re all about the store-bought stuff or if you make the best tartar sauce recipe, now you can better understand it. Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some up and plan a delicious dinner with fried seafood or fish sandwiches.