Shrimp Cocktail Recipe (with Homemade Cocktail Sauce)

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Are you looking for the perfect appetizer to impress your guests at your next gathering? Look no further than this shrimp cocktail recipe with homemade cocktail sauce. This dish is not only delicious and easy to make, but it also features a flavorful homemade cocktail sauce that will take your taste buds to the next level.

Not only will this shrimp cocktail be a hit at your next party, but it’s also a great option for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. With its simple ingredients and straightforward instructions, you can have a restaurant-quality dish on your table in no time. Plus, with the added benefit of being able to make the cocktail sauce ahead of time, this recipe is perfect for busy schedules. So why not give this shrimp cocktail recipe a try and see for yourself why it’s sure to become a new favorite in your recipe collection?

How to Make Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Plump, tender shrimp with a zesty homemade cocktail sauce is my go-to for a delicious, classy appetizer. That’s what you create with this shrimp cocktail recipe. Very popular, made in 15-20 minutes, and definitely one of the healthier appetizer choices out there.

Prep Time: 6 mins

Cook Time: 4 mins

chill: 5 mins

Total Time: 15 mins

Course: appetizers

Cuisine: American

Servings: 4 -6

Calories: 151kcal

Ingredients of Making Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Shrimp and Poaching Liquid

  • 6 cups (1.5 liters/quarts) of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • optional: instead of the seasonings above, you can add 1 tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning to the water.
  • 1 pound (450 grams) medium-large or large shrimp (21-25 or 16-20/pound/450g), peeled and deveined, Note 1 thawed if frozen.
  • a large bowl of ice water

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 cup (237ml/270g) ketchup (1/4 of this can be chili sauce instead)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (not the creamy horseradish sauce)
  • optional: I also add 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or zest. Add a couple of drops of hot sauce like Tabasco if you want a spicy cocktail sauce.

Instructions for Making Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Shrimp Cocktail Recipe


Bring water and seasonings to a boil on high heat in a medium pot. Add shrimp and immediately remove the pan from heat. Let shrimp sit in the water, uncovered, for the amount of time based on the size of shrimp, Note 1. Times are from Bon Appetit and work well:

  • 1.5 minutes for 26-30/lb
  • 2 minutes for 21-25/lb
  • 4 minutes for 13-15/lb
  • 5 minutes for 8-12/lb


Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to cool down quickly for 5 minutes. Or drain the shrimp and add lots of ice to the pot, then toss to cool down the shrimp quickly.


In a small bowl, combine ketchup, prepared horseradish, optional Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and/or hot sauce if desired. Serve shrimp with sauce on the side for dipping. Or drizzle it on top of the shrimp.

Recipe Notes

  1. Shrimp: Frozen shrimp come in bags with a number on it (e.g. 16-20) indicating the number of shrimp per pound (450 grams). Medium-large shrimp are 21-25/pound (450g) and large is 16-20/pound(450g), the preferred size for an appetizer. Thaw them if frozen and leave the tails on. For a shortcut, buy peeled and deveined shrimp. If peels are still on, here’s a video on how to peel and devein shrimp. It’s important to cook the shrimp based on their size as they are easy to overcook.
  2. Sauce alternatives: Instead of making the shrimp cocktail sauce recipe above, try 5-minute herb sauce, roasted red pepper sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce,1000 Island dressing or Russian dressing, or chimichurri
  3. Serving options: Serve shrimp in a serving bowl or platter, around a martini glass, in a shot glass, on skewers, or on individual spoons.
  4. Make Ahead: The shrimp can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. The homemade cocktail sauce can be made 4-5 days ahead. Bring the shrimp to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition values are estimates based on 1/4 pound/113 grams of shrimp per person with sauce. Approximately 4-5 shrimp.


Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 2372mg | Potassium: 333mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 516IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 1mg

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About the Author: Vicky Lau

Chef Owner at Tate Dining Room, Butler Luxury Caterer, Poem Patisseri

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