How to Make Shrimp Cocktail

shrimp cocktail

If you're wondering how to make shrimp cocktail, rest assured that it's one of the easiest gourmet seafood dishes you can make. This tasty ocean appetizer looks impressive with only a little bit of effort, and it's sure to please your dinner guests - if you don't eat it all before they arrive!

Learning How to Make Shrimp Cocktail

First things first - you want to use fresh shrimp for this dish. Since you'll be serving the shrimp cold, their flavor (or lack thereof) will be the first thing you notice. If you're unsure how to prepare shrimp, you can get high quality pre-cooked shrimp from your local butcher. Be sure to taste one before you buy, since mealy shrimp will definitely ruin the texture of your dish.

Making the Cocktail Sauce

Cocktail sauce is easy to make and can be finished in less than five minutes. Make this ahead of time so that all you have to do when you want shrimp cocktail is cook up your shrimp.


  • 6 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • A pinch of celery salt


  1. Combine all ingredients and blend well, getting rid of any lumps. Serve with cold, cooked shrimp.

How to Cook the Shrimp

If you don't know how to cook shrimp, here's a sure-fire way to have them turn out perfectly. Shrimp is actually very easy to cook, with the primary concern being that you don't want to overcook them, even for a minute. The texture of shrimp is very delicate, and overcooking will cause them to go from light and fluffy to tough and chewy. Here's a tip: make sure to keep an eye on your pot once you add them to the water - don't walk away, for even a few seconds!


  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite seasoned salt
  • 1/2 a lemon, cut into four slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 32 medium-sized shrimp, with the tails still on


  1. First, set up your workstation. Set a large bowl of ice water (large enough to hold the water and the shrimp) on the counter next to where you will be boiling your pot of water.
  2. In a large pot of water, stir in seasoned salt, lemon, garlic, shallot, cayenne and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add your shrimp to the boiling water, cooking them just until they turn bright pink. Do not overcook them! You'll end up with shrimp the texture of pencil erasers.
  4. Drain shrimp right away and pour shrimp into the ice water for two minutes.
  5. Again drain shrimp and peel off their shells, leaving the tail in tact.
  6. Dry shrimp with paper towels, and serve with cocktail sauce.

Mexican Cocktail Sauce

For an amazing variation on your regular shrimp cocktail, try this Mexican recipe. Avocados add something special to this dish, and your guests will love it.


  • 1 tablespoon garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup white horseradish paste (optional)
  • The juice of three or four small, fresh limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 very ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed coarsely
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion


  1. In a small bowl, make a coarse paste of garlic, cilantro, horseradish, lime juice and sea salt.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together avocado, tomato juice, ketchup and hot sauce.
  3. Pour garlic paste mixture into avocado mixture, stirring until well incorporated.
  4. Stir in red onion.
  5. If you like, you can throw the whole shebang in the blender for a very smooth sauce.
  6. Serve with cooked, cold shrimp.
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How to Make Shrimp Cocktail