Fresh shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce is an easy appetizer that will have you switching to homemade instead of store-bought forever!
Why We Love this easy Shrimp Cocktail recipe
- You can make this shrimp cocktail the day before and chill it until you’re ready to serve making it great for parties. Or you can pop into the fridge for a bite over a couple of days like my husband does…if you’re not sharing.
- It’s so cheap compared to ordering this dish at a restaurant! Sure you have to buy a bag of jumbo shrimp which is like $9 to $15, but compare that to $7+ PER SHRIMP at some restaurants? You’ll be saving so much money!
- Homemade cocktail sauce is great because you can fiddle with the recipe to get it just the way you like it. Want a kick? Add more horseradish and hot sauce. Like it tart? Add more lemon juice. So easy!
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Shrimp Cocktail and Cocktail Sauce
SHRIMP: The easiest way to make this recipe is with jumbo shrimp that’s been peeled and deveined. You can use tail-on or tail-off, it’s up to you. Tail-on is traditional, but it’s nice to be able to pop the whole thing into your mouth with no tail too.
BEER: Grab a 12-ounce can of your favorite lager or light beer for this recipe. A red ale would work too but stay away from IPAs, stouts, or wheat beers.
SEASONING: Old Bay adds just the right amount of flavor and it complements seafood perfectly. I also like to have lemon wedges ready for serving to add some bright citrus flavor.
SHRIMP COCKTAIL SAUCE: To make the cocktail sauce you’ll need ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce along with some lemon juice.
How to Make Shrimp CocktailJump to Recipe
STEP 1 Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour in the beer and season with Old Bay.
STEP 2 Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes until it’s pink. Then use a spider strainer or large slotted spoon to remove the shrimp from the pot.
STEP 3 Place the shrimp into a metal or glass bowl, cover, and pop the bowl in the fridge until the shrimp is completely chilled.
How to Make Shrimp Cocktail Sauce
STEP 1 Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until evenly combined.
STEP 2 Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Tips & Tricks
- The best way to make shrimp cocktail is to cook the shrimp and pop them in the fridge overnight so they are chilled through.
- I recommend making the Cocktail Sauce the day before to really let all the flavors marry together. If you want a little more zing to your cocktail sauce you can add extra horseradish and/or hot sauce to your liking.
- Don’t put the cooked shrimp directly into a water bath to stop the cooking. This will remove some of the seasoning and flavor from cooking the shrimp cocktail. If you need to cool them quickly, put a glass or metal bowl in an ice bath and then put the shrimp in that cold bowl instead.
- If you can’t find jumbo shrimp you can use extra-large or large shrimp instead.
- Personally, I’m not to fond of cocktail sauce, but my husband LOVES it. So I make up an easy remoulade sauce or sriracha mayo to dip my shrimp. They’re really tasty together.
Shrimp Cocktail FAQ
Is shrimp cocktail raw?
If you purchase a shrimp cocktail tray at the store, the shrimp is already cooked. Raw shrimp are naturally grey. The pink/orange color appears after the shrimp have been fully cooked, this is when you know they’re done. Most times, store-bought shrimp cocktail is frozen and needs to be thawed. It also comes with a cup of cocktail sauce for dipping.
Store-bought shrimp cocktail trays have about 130 calories per 5 ounces of shrimp + 2 tablespoons of cocktail sauce. Homemade shrimp cocktail calories run about 122 kcal for 4 ounces of shrimp + 2 tablespoons of cocktail sauce and it tastes SO much better!
Why is it called shrimp cocktail?
There is an “oyster cocktail” that dates back to the mid-1800s. It was a combination of shucked, raw oysters, mixed in a glass with whiskey, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Then you swig it back. The US and Britain started making different variations – some dishes made with spirits and some that just use the cocktail styling.
As shrimp became more common (thanks to refrigeration and overfishing of US oyster beds) it took over as the seafood of choice. Shrimp Cocktail became really popular during the mid-1900s. The dish was served chilled with a Marie Rose sauce or cocktail sauce in a martini glass with the shrimp hanging around the edge of the glass.
What is cocktail sauce?
Cocktail sauce is also known as seafood sauce. It’s the American version of Britain’s Marie Rose sauce. Its name comes from its use in seafood or shrimp cocktail as the dipping sauce.
The US version is made with ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. The UK version is made with ketchup, mayonnaise, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brandy, and lemon juice. The big difference is the addition of mayo.
Other Recipes You May Like
- Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
- Mango and Shrimp Quesadillas
- Sun Dried Tomato and Balsamic Shrimp Pasta
- Easy Shrimp Scampi
- 15 minute Shrimp Alfredo
Shrimp Cocktail & Cocktail Sauce Recipe
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour in the beer and Old Bay and stir. (The beer will cause the pot to fizz up a bit, don't worry.)
- Add the shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes until pink and tender. Remove the shrimp from the water with a spider strainer or pour the pot out into a colander.
- Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or foil. Place in the fridge until chilled, about 4 hours to overnight.
- Stir all the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl until evenly combined. Adjust to taste with more horseradish, lemon juice, or hot sauce as desired. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Nutritional information is for 0.25 pounds of shrimp and 2 tablespoons of cocktail sauce.
- The shrimp can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
- Don’t place the shrimp in a water bath. This will remove some of the seasoning/flavor. If you need a quick cooling option, place a glass or metal bowl in a water bath and put the cooked shrimp in the bowl.
- You can use tail-off or tail-on shrimp. Jumbo shrimp (21/25) or extra large shrimp (25/30) are recommended but you can use large shrimp if they’re on sale.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.