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Here’s how to make classic tartar sauce for crab cakes, fried fish, oysters, and more. Quick, easy, make-ahead-friendly recipe with all the traditional flavors.

tartar sauce for crab cakes, fish, oysters, and more in a small bowl with a spoon and a lemon wedge
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Why we love this recipe

For fried fish, fried oysters, crab cakes, and more, tartar sauce makes a natural companion. This well-balanced condiment has it all. It’s:

  • Flecked with savory bits of pickle, caper, and shallot
  • Lightly sweetened with a bit of relish
  • Creamy but still nice and bright
  • Quick, easy, and make-ahead friendly
  • An absolute classic

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe. The quantities for everything but the mayo are quite small, and everything wants to be cut nice and small, too.

ingredients in bowls
  • You can use a good-quality supermarket mayo like Hellman’s or an easy homemade version. Truth be told, I usually go with store-bought in this recipe since tartar sauce has so many other great flavors to enhance it.
  • Sweet pickle relish gives this sauce a hint of sweetness to balance all the savory and tangy elements. This is the same stuff you may have in a jar on your fridge door from your last cookout.
  • Dill pickle or (full-sour pickle) and capers add savoriness. Use capers in brine (from a bottle) and drain them well before mincing.
  • A tiny bit of minced shallot adds a nuanced hint of heat and allium.
  • Dried dill is also called dill weed. It goes beautifully with fish and shellfish.
  • A hint of freshly squeezed lemon juice adds brightens the sauce.
  • The recipe card includes a few additional optional ingredients. I don’t usually add them, but they work well alone or in combination if you’re so inclined.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a perfect batch of tartar sauce for crab cakes and more. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Place the mayo into a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add the relish, pickle, shallot, capers, lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper, along with any optional ingredients.
  3. Mix well to evenly distribute all ingredients.
  4. Cover and chill for at least half an hour before serving, to give the flavors a chance to come together. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Tartar sauce will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, so you can make it ahead if you like, and store any leftovers that haven’t been dipped into the same way. If you’ll be making ahead and adding any fresh herbs (which are among the optional ingredients), consider stirring them in shortly before serving time.

More favorite sauces for fish

tartar sauce for crab cakes, fish, oysters, and more in a small bowl with a spoon and a lemon wedge

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tartar sauce for crab cakes, fish, oysters, and more in a small bowl with a spoon and a lemon wedge
5 from 2 votes

Tartar Sauce for Crab Cakes, Fish, and More

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Here's how to make classic tartar sauce for crab cakes, fried fish, oysters, and more. Quick, easy, make-ahead-friendly recipe with all the traditional flavors.
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
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Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
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Ingredients 

The basics

  • ¾ cup (180 grams) mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons (20 grams) minced dill pickle
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) drained, minced capers
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional additions

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

Instructions 

  • Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.
  • Mix well, until all ingredients are well-distributed.
  • Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors bloom.

Notes

  1. You can use a good-quality supermarket mayo like Hellman's or an easy homemade version. Truth be told, I usually go with store-bought in this recipe since tartar sauce has so many other great flavors to enhance it.
  2. Sweet pickle relish gives this sauce a hint of sweetness to balance all the savory and tangy elements. This is the same stuff you may have in a jar on your fridge door from your last cookout.
  3. Dill pickle or (full-sour pickle) and capers add savoriness. Use capers in brine (from a bottle) and drain them well before mincing.
  4. A tiny bit of minced shallot adds a nuanced hint of heat and allium.
  5. Dried dill is also called dill weed. It goes beautifully with fish and shellfish.
  6. A hint of freshly squeezed lemon juice adds brightens the sauce.
  7. The optional ingredients work well alone or in combination if you're so inclined.
  8. Tartar sauce will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, so you can make it ahead if you like, and store any leftovers that haven't been dipped into the same way. If you'll be making ahead and adding any fresh herbs (which are among the optional ingredients), consider stirring them in shortly before serving time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoon, Calories: 74kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 0.2g, Fat: 7.7g, Sugar: 0.7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
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Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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