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Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp cocktail

This amazing shrimp cocktail is one of the classic party appetizer recipes. It is perfect for entertaining because it is easy to make and you can make it ahead, so there is no last minute rush.

Shrimp cocktail never really goes out of style and people enjoy it whenever they get the chance to have it.

Shrimp cocktail is simply cooked shrimp served with a zesty tomato and horseradish sauce. The sauce is quite easy to make and once it’s made you can refrigerate and store it for several days.

The tomato part of the cocktail sauce comes from pre made or store bought chili sauce and ketchup. The zesty taste is from the horseradish of course, but also a bit of Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.

Add as much hot sauce as you like, or leave it out altogether if you want. I usually leave it out or just add a few drops for a bit of spicy flavor. I don’t like it hot, but if you are a hot sauce fan, go for it.

Preparing the Shrimp

I usually start out with store bought cooked shrimp, but of course you can cook them yourself. If I start out with raw shrimp, I like to boil them in some salted water that has 1/2 a lemon added to it. The lemon adds just a bit of fresh flavor.

Boil the shrimp in the salted lemon water for 3 minutes then put them in ice water right away so you stop the cooking process. Shrimp can get over cooked quite easily. Remove the shrimp and pat them dry.

Then, if you started with shell-on shrimp, remove the shells and devein them (see below).

Once the shrimp are clean keep them in the fridge if you aren’t serving them right away.

How to Clean and Devein Shrimp

Of course you can buy beautiful cooked shrimp that has already been peeled and deveined, but if you choose to do it yourself, here is how.

To remove the shell I start by removing the shrimp “legs” under the curved part of the shrimp. Just remove them then peel off the thin shell, making sure to leave the tail on. Leaving the tail on makes the presentation prettier and gives people an nice handle to hold on to when they eat the shrimp with their hands.

Now to deveining.

Once the shrimp shell has been removed you will see a thin black line all along the back edge of the shrimp. That’s the shrimp’s digestive track and really should be cut out before you eat the shrimp.

It’s fairly simple to do. Just lay the shrimp on it’s side so the black line is showing on one side. Take a sharp knife and gently make a cut right beside that black line, all along the length of the shrimp where you can see the line. Take the tip of the knife and place it just underneath the black line and gently lift it out. It may all come out at the same time, or you may have to make a couple of attempts before you get it all.

shrimp cleaning

Like I said, I usually just start with already cleaned and deveined shrimp, either raw or cooked, depending on what I’m doing with them. It’s just easier.

How to Serve Shrimp Cocktail

You can serve shrimp cocktail in a few ways:

Place 1/2 of the shrimp cocktail sauce in a bowl and place it in the middle of a serving platter. Surround the bowl of sauce with plump, fresh, cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp. You can see that version in the image at the top of the page.

OR create individual shrimp cocktails. Place some of the sauce in a small glass then sit the shrimp on the top edge of the glass, hugging the rim of the glass. See the image below for that presentation. It’s quite pretty and great to serve at a more elegant dinner.

Serving the shrimp cocktail this way is also healthier in this day of viruses that everyone is worrying about. Everyone has their own individual serving, so you don’t have to worry about anything being contaminated by touch.

shrimp cocktail and sauce

shrimp cocktail and sauce

Shrimp Cocktail and Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

How to make and elegant shrimp cocktail with homemade shrimp cocktail sauce. It's an elegant dinner party appetizer.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 112 kcal


  • 2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce:

  • 1 cup chili sauce, bottled or pre-made
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, ( to 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon onion, finely grated (optional)
  • Dash Tabasco sauce, or any hot sauce, to your taste
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar


  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and chill until you are ready to serve the shrimp cocktail.
  • Makes about 2 cups, or 8 to 10 servings.


This fabulous zesty sauce is also wonderful on lobster.
Here is a sweeter variation of this shrimp cocktail sauce recipe:
Omit the onion and Tabasco sauce. Add 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple and a bit of sugar (whatever amount suits your taste buds) and mix together for a sweet-and-sour shrimp sauce.


Calories: 112kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 13gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 1192mgPotassium: 275mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 447IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

If you like shrimp cocktail, I think you might like this shrimp dip too. Have a look.

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