Make Zesty Cocktail Sauce At Home With Ingredients Already In Your Fridge

What's one kind of cocktail that you can indulge in to your heart's content with no fear of a hangover or need for a designated driver? That would be cocktail sauce, a simple yet flavorful condiment that is often used to accompany seafood. The "cocktail" part of the name refers to shrimp cocktail, which is an appetizer consisting of cooked shrimp in a spicy(ish) sauce served in a tulip-shaped glass. This dish seems to have been created, or at least popularized, by a Las Vegas casino back in the '50s, although the glasses this establishment employed would otherwise have been used for ice cream, not booze.

Cocktail sauces may vary from recipe to recipe, but developer Susan Olayinka is sticking with a pretty standard four-ingredient version of zesty cocktail sauce. "I think the best part about this recipe is how simple it is to make," she tells us. The condiments it calls for are ones you may already have in either your pantry or refrigerator: Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and horseradish (prepared, not creamy). But wait, that's just three! Yes, ingredient number four isn't technically a condiment. Instead, it's the juice of that most versatile and seafood-friendly of fruits, the lemon. Olayinka also notes that "you can make this recipe your own [by] adding different herbs or spices [or] swap[ping] out the lemon juice for lime juice or vinegar," while stirring in Tabasco or cayenne would make for a spicier sauce.

Cocktail sauce isn't just for shrimp

Once you've stirred together your cocktail sauce — the work of mere moments — you can, of course, use it to make a shrimp cocktail. Olayinka calls it "a delicious dipping sauce for your weeknight shrimp." But she also says that "it goes great with ... other seafood." One origin story for cocktail sauce, which dates back to the 1800s, says that it was originally served with oysters and it remains many people's go-to sauce for raw or fried oysters to this day. It can also work well with clams and crab, although it might be a bit too overpowering for more delicate types of shellfish such as lobster and scallops.

Of course, cocktail sauce needn't be saved for seafood alone. It can be stirred into tomato juice to add a little zing or mixed with mayonnaise to make a zestier version of fry sauce. It can also be mixed into burgers, meatloaf, or deviled eggs and makes a great dip for chicken wings or nuggets and mozzarella sticks.