Homemade Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

People who love shrimp have undoubtedly enjoyed it in every which way possible. As we shrimp lovers know, there are a lot of recipes for grilling and frying shrimp, but when it comes down to shrimp cocktail, we usually buy it at a store or a restaurant. Contrary to popular belief, shrimp cocktail is pretty easy to make, and it's also more affordable to do it yourself than to get it from the grocery store or on a night out. This recipe also includes a wonderful cocktail sauce recipe as well because shrimp and cocktail sauce go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Recipe developer Hayley MacLean comes up with plenty of wonderful recipes, and this is one of our faves. "My favorite part about this recipe is how tender and succulent the shrimp come out after poaching them — they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!" MacLean raves. "Additionally, their light flavor pairs so well with the sharp horseradish flavor of the cocktail sauce — the perfect combination." 

Keep reading to find out how to make this excellent shrimp.

Gather the ingredients for your shrimp cocktail

Are you ready to get started on some of the best shrimp around? If so, start by taking a trip to the grocery store. You will need to gather all of the necessary items to throw this dish together. Begin with salt and granulated sugar. While you're in the spice aisle, pick up some black peppercorns. Next, pop by the produce section and get parsley leaves, a few cloves of garlic, and lemon.

The star of the recipe is shrimp, and you will need about a pound and a half. MacLean suggests finding 16 to 20 shrimp. "Here, I used Patagonian pink shrimp, as they are currently in season and most available. However, if you can source locally, that is the best. Make sure to get shrimp with the tails on for dipping purposes!" 

Then, grab some ketchup, chili sauce, and horseradish. The recipe also calls for Worcestershire sauce, fresh lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce. Last but not least, toss some salt and pepper into your cart.

Add the ingredients to a saucepan

Now that you've gathered all of your ingredients, it's time to get started. The recipe prep time only takes about 10 minutes, making it simple and quick. 

Begin by filling the saucepan about halfway with water. Then, toss in the salt, sugar, and peppercorns first. This will add a little bit of flavor to spruce the water up a bit. Next, toss in the parsley and garlic. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the pot. Then, chop up the juiced half and add that into the water as well.

Boil the water

Once you've added all your ingredients into the saucepan, place it on your stove and crank the heat up to high. Bring the water to a rapid boil. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Once you see bubbles reach the surface of the water, remove the saucepan from heat and add the shrimp. Then, place the lid on the saucepan and let it sit for about three to five minutes. You can either use a timer or just keep an eye on the clock.

When all is said and done, the shrimp should be opaque and pink.

Transfer the shrimp to an ice bath and make the sauce

Once your timer goes off, transfer the shrimp to an ice bath and let them fully cool. "The ice bath stops the cooking process so the shrimp don't become overcooked and tough, and you are left with a buttery, succulent bite!" MacLean shares. Once cooled, use a colander to drain the shrimp and then set them aside when they're chilled.

In a medium mixing bowl, start combining the ingredients for the sauce. Start with ketchup, and then add the chili sauce, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. At this time, you can also throw in the lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. If spice isn't your thing, you can always leave the hot pepper sauce out. Then, season with a little bit of salt and pepper. To finish things off, slice the remaining half of a lemon into wedges for serving.

Serve and enjoy

Feel free to present and plate the shrimp and cocktail sauce however you would like. "This shrimp cocktail is great to serve at get-togethers with family and friends during the holidays! It will be the star of the show in any appetizer assortment," MacLean raves. "It also goes great with a crisp green salad or cold pasta salad on the side."

Anything left? "While this dish is best served fresh, leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for three to four days," MacLean shares. "So, if you are making this to bring to a gathering, feel free to make it a day in advance!"

Homemade Shrimp Cocktail Recipe
5 from 33 ratings
Shrimp cocktail is pretty easy to make, and it's also more affordable to do it yourself than to get it from the grocery store or on a night out.
Prep Time
Cook Time
shrimp cocktail in a bowl
Total time: 10 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 lemon, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • 4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  1. Fill a large saucepan halfway with water. Add the salt, sugar, peppercorns, parsley, and garlic. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon into the pot, and then chop up the juiced half and add it to the water.
  2. Bring the water to a rapid boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, add the shrimp, and put the lid on the saucepan. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes until the shrimp are opaque and pink.
  3. When done cooking, transfer the shrimp to an ice bath to fully cool. Drain the shrimp and set aside, chilled.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ketchup, chili sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the remaining lemon half into wedges.
  5. Serve the shrimp immediately with the cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
Calories per Serving 140
Total Fat 1.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 142.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 15.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Total Sugars 8.5 g
Sodium 1,162.3 mg
Protein 16.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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