Dungeness crab meat is sweet, salty and succulent, with a meaty texture that makes it substantial enough to enjoy straight out of the shell — with no implements required besides your bare hands. Also, our Dungeness crab legs are ready to snap and eat, so all you really need is a dipping sauce (or three!) on the side.
Here are 13 different sauces for Dungeness crab legs that you’ll want to try out for easy meals and snack attacks.
A classic to serve with crustaceans, tartar sauce is a zesty accompaniment to Dungeness crab legs. While many of us may have grown accustomed to buying tartar sauce in a jar, this is one of those sauces that’s just too easy to make at home to justify buying a premade jar of it ever again. Rachael Ray’s straightforward recipe for tartar sauce is made with dill pickles, mayo, parsley (but you can use dill or tarragon), and a squeeze of lemon juice.
For a tartar sauce with heat that’s reminiscent of New Orleans, make this version from Food52 that’s spiced up with either tabasco or sriracha and a spoonful of whole-grain mustard.
Another classic, a tangy cocktail sauce goes great with chilled crabmeat, cracked straight out of the shell. Martha Stewart’s super simple recipe can be made with either prepared horseradish or freshly grated root.
Green Cocktail Sauce
As an alternative, you can use tomatillos rather than ketchup as the base of your cocktail sauce for the green version that you can find at the bottom of this recipe from Food Network. If you are substituting prepared horseradish for this sauce, hold off on the rice wine vinegar and just add enough to taste.
If you’ve never made clarified butter before (also known as drawn butter), you have no more excuses — it’s very easy to make and just goes so nicely with sweet, succulent crab meat. Follow along with Alton Brown’s no-fuss recipe to make yourself a big batch, which can be refrigerated or frozen for an extended period of time.
Ethiopian-Spiced Clarified Butter
For a little more flavor to go along with the decadence of clarified butter, try out The Kitchn’s recipe, made with an Ethiopian kibbeh-spice blend of fresh and dried herbs like turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cardamom. This butter can also be stored for several months in the refrigerator or freezer.
Wasabi Pea Dip
Wasabi paste brings the spice factor for this otherwise mellow green dip from Cooking Light, made with mashed green peas, lime juice and zest, and parsley.
Meyer Lemon Aioli
The mellow citrusy flavor of Meyer lemon juice is the perfect foil to a homemade aioli, adding a hint of brightness and sweetness to this aioli recipe from Food and Wine. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, you can substitute the juice of regular lemons or try Food52’s hack that combines lemon juice with tangerine juice; after all, Meyer lemons were created by crossing lemons with mandarin oranges.
Vegan Chipotle Mayo
For a vegan-friendly dip, Well and Good’s recipe for a smoky chipotle mayo is made with soaked cashews that are blended into a creamy emulsion with filtered water, lemon juice, and chipotles in adobo sauce.
Shanghai-Style Ginger Sauce
Serious Eats has a delicious recipe for a Shanghai-style sweet and sour dipping sauce, made with Chinkiang vinegar (otherwise known as Chinese black vinegar), brown sugar, and ginger. If you don’t own a bottle of Chinkiang vinegar, you can use rice wine vinegar instead — but we really think it’s a bottle that’s worth keeping in your cabinet, as it will come in handy for steamed and stir-fried dishes inspired by a broad range of Chinese cuisines.
Creamy Mustard Sauce
Inspired by the addictive sauce from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, this recipe for a creamy mustard sauce is excellent with chilled Dungeness crab meat.
Curried Yogurt Dip
Thick, greek-style yogurt is an easy base for a healthy dip — and it’s as simple as adding in a tablespoon or so of your favorite curry powder, as suggested by this recipe from Real Simple. If yogurt isn’t your jam, you can always use mayo instead.
This tomato-chili diablo sauce from Saveur is more than a spicy marinara dip. Made with a mix of spices and chilis, the smokiness and heat of this sauce contrasts nicely with the sweetness of Dungeness crab meat.