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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Bent

Homemade Tartar Sauce - A Recipe’s original recipe jumbo lump crab cakes

While the exact moment when tartar sauce was first served with crab cakes may be unclear, there's no doubt that this classic combination has become a beloved tradition in seafood cuisine. 


It's plausible that tartar sauce began to be served alongside crab cakes as early as the mid-20th century, as the popularity of both dishes grew in seafood restaurants and home kitchens across the United States. The tangy and creamy qualities of tartar sauce complement the delicate flavor of crab meat, making it a natural pairing. 

One theory suggests that tartar sauce may have been inspired by various condiments and sauces used in European cuisine, such as rémoulade sauce in France or tartare sauce in England. These sauces typically consisted of mayonnaise or aioli combined with herbs, pickles, capers, and other flavorings. 


While its precise origins may remain uncertain, tartar sauce has undoubtedly become a beloved condiment enjoyed with a wide variety of seafood dishes, from fish and chips to crab cakes and beyond. 


A Maryland crab cake with a spoon of homemade tartar sauce

Homemade Tartar Sauce 


  • 1 cup mayonnaise 

  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish 

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers (or leave them whole) 

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 

  • Salt and pepper to taste 



1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. 


2. Taste the tartar sauce and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Adjust the lemon juice or mustard if desired for extra tanginess or flavor. 


3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tartar sauce for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. 


4. Once chilled, give the tartar sauce a final stir before serving. Use it as a condiment for fish and seafood dishes, such as fish and chips, fried shrimp, or crab cakes. 


5. Store any leftover tartar sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

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