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The best tartar sauce should be creamy and balanced—and definitely not gloppy.
Published Sept. 1, 2008. Appears in Cook's Illustrated September/October 2008, Cook's Country TV Season 2: Surefire Seafood
What You Need To Know
The French created tartar sauce as a simple mayonnaise with a few chopped gherkins mixed in. These days, the condiment is just as likely to come loaded with flavorful additions ranging from horseradish and onions to capers, cabbage, and celery. We sampled eight brands against our own homemade version to find a worthy sauce.
None truly compared to homemade. Most tasted gloppy and saccharine, though we found two acceptable stand-ins. One sample stood apart for its creamy, nicely balanced base chock full of tasty bits of cucumber, onion, cabbage, celery—even red bell pepper—and a second sample was almost as good.
Everything We Tested
Lots of vegetable chunks and a “sweet/tart balance” made this condiment from New England’s most famous seafood destination taste less like bottled.
Recommended with reservations
Tasters praised this “rich, eggy” sauce with “good acidity” and an abundance of sweet pickle bits.
This sauce from one of Philadelphia’s oldest seafood establishments ran too heavy on the horseradish.
Tasters condemned this “artificially thick,” “greasy” sauce with “Miracle Whip” sweetness.
“Custard-like” and overly sweet, this bore no resemblance to the tartar sauce we wanted.
Reviews you can trust
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