Living in the state of Maryland, which is blue crab country, crab cakes are something we take very seriously — you’ve all seen Wedding Crashers when they are playing football and yell out: “crab cakes and football — that’s what Maryland does!”. It goes without saying that crab cake sauces are taken equally as seriously.
Through the years, dipping and drizzling sauces have evolved in various ways. However, the one tried and true (in addition to cocktail sauce) for all Marylanders is a remoulade sauce.
Maryland crab cakes, when made right, consist of primarily fresh lump crab meat with very little filler (think: eggs, bread or cracker crumbs, and mayonnaise). The delicate nature of the sweet, fresh crab meat demands a sauce that complements it rather than overpowering it.
While I did create this crab cake sauce recipe specifically to pair with my homemade crab cakes, keep in mind that it can be a perfect dipping sauce for tons of other seafood dishes. It’s easy to whip up and it’s likely to please even the pickiest eaters.
The next time you need a homemade remoulade sauce recipe to use as a dip or a spread, try this quick and easy one — it’s a great way to elevate any fish or shellfish.
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What is Crab Cake Sauce?
Crab cake sauce is a delicious dipping sauce that’s perfect for delicate seafood like crabs. It’s also delicious on flaky fish, scallops, and sauteed squid.
The creamy base of mayonnaise marries with the brightness from the lemon juice to make for an amazing remoulade. Other ingredients like a bit of ketchup and a dollop of honey add a layer of sweetness that pairs perfectly with the natural sweetness of fresh seafood.
Whether this is your first remoulade, or you’ve made many other versions, you’re sure to love this recipe as an accompaniment to most homemade seafood dishes. It can also work well as a base for a pasta salad or as a sandwich spread. Really any of these sauces for seafood can be used this way!
Why Ours is Different
- It can be paired with many other types of seafood, used on sandwiches, and as a dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.
- It does not use Old Bay or other types of seafood seasoning. While I love these flavors, they can also be a bit overpowering.
- It does not use horseradish. I know, I know — a crab cake sauce without horseradish. I find this funny because for a long time cocktail sauce was unacceptable and it was basically horseradish, but alas, this version doesn’t have any.
- It has a secret ingredient to help balance the flavors. And that ingredient is…. keep reading or scroll to the recipe card.
- Capers are swapped out for pickles or relish.
How to Serve It
This zingy sauce can be drizzled over a dish for a dramatic artsy feel. Use a squeeze bottle or spoon some into a small plastic bag and snip the corner allowing you to drizzle it over the food.
What to Serve it On
What can’t you serve it on is really the question. This sauce is technically considered a remoulade because it is mayo-based, but nowadays, many folks might also call it aioli. And for that reason, it can be used any way a creamy dipping sauce or aioli would be used too.
You can mix ingredients by hand, with a blender, or in a food processor.
- Mayonnaise – Use your favorite brand or make your own, but try to avoid any that have extra sweeteners that may not work well when paired with delicate seafood.
- White vinegar – This adds some tanginess to the sauce to — it the balance for sweet and savor flavors.
- Ketchup – Sweetness and acidity are key to adding layers of flavor.
- Lemon juice – The acid from the lemon cuts through creaminess and brings a brightness to the sauce.
- Capers – Capers add a brininess that imparts that umami flavor to round out the sauce.
- Honey – Use any honey that you prefer. You can also use honeys infused with other flavors that you like.
- Garlic powder – Using a powder helps to keep the sauce smooth but you can use minced garlic if you prefer.
- Onion powder – Onion powder works better for this sauce than fresh onion because it’s so much easier to make sure the flavor is well distributed throughout the sauce.
- Paprika – Paprika adds flavor but also a bit of color as well.
- Kosher salt – Just a touch of salt helps to bring out all of the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Hot sauce – Choose your favorite hot sauce and add a few dashes to taste.
- Worcestershire sauce – Add this for some added umami and a bit of salty flavor.
- Old Bay seasoning – While I don’t prefer it in my sauce (since I put plenty in my crab cakes), you can certainly shake some into this sauce.
- Cajun seasoning or creole seasoning – If you like cajun flavors, try adding a bit to this creamy remoulade.
- Fresh herbs – You can add any herbs that you think will complement your crab cakes from parsley to dill.
- Green onions – Try thinly slicing green onions and mixing them in for a pop of both flavor and color.
- Black pepper – You can add a touch of heat by adding a bit of black pepper.
- Dijon mustard – For a bit of earthiness and umami, squeeze in your favorite dijon.
- Cayenne pepper – For some spice add a little bit of cayenne.
- Bell pepper – Some people add bits of fresh peppers to their crab cakes. You can also finely chop them and add to this sauce for some chunky, fresh texture.
- Sour cream – Trying adding or substituting sour cream to impart some tanginess.
- Yellow onion – Instead of onion powder, you can use finely chopped onion.
- Fresh garlic – Make sure to mince it if you choose to substitute it for the garlic powder.
- Smoked paprika – If you like smoky flavors, you can substitute smoked paprika for the standard variety. Be sure to use sparsely to avoid overpowering delicate crab cakes with too much smokiness.
Storage & Freezing
Store this creamy sauce for up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container or a bowl covered in plastic wrap. Freezing sauces with a mayonnaise base is not recommended.
Other Dipping Sauces for Seafood
Crab Cake Sauce Recipe
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 7-8 capers
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice, capers, honey, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and salt in a small food processor. Blend well until combined and capers are well chopped.
- Chill for 1 hour to let flavors marry.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!