This classic Shrimp Cocktail is ready in ten minutes, can be prepared ahead of time, and is an easy appetizer for dinner or parties.
Where do you go when you’re at a party? Are you the social butterfly, flitting from group to group? Do you hide with a friend in a corner, and wish desperately that you were at a coffee shop instead? I’ll tell you where you’ll find me– I’ll be wherever the shrimp cocktail is!
With a little effort– and by “little,” I mean about 10 minutes of effort– you can make your own Classic Shrimp Cocktail at home, and it will taste even better than the pre-made “shrimp cocktail rings” you see in the store!
When I was little, I was the kid who, when left unsupervised, would sneak as many of those tasty cold shrimp off the cocktail rings as possible, and then come back for more. (Okay, okay… I still do it!!!) We all know, though, that the pre-made shrimp cocktail rings have issues!
For one thing, it’s hard to time the thawing process. Have you ever grabbed a few shrimp at a party, only to find, to your complete dismay, that they are still partially frozen? And sometimes the shrimp have thawed, but the cocktail sauce is still frozen solid. It is a problem!
You’ll also find, when you make your own shrimp cocktail, that the shrimp will taste better! I tested this theory at a recent party– the freshly cooked shrimp were most definitely tastier. This shouldn’t be a surprise, right?
Learn More about Buying Shrimp: Not sure what to look for when you’re buying shrimp? Check out this post: Types of Shrimp- The Ultimate Guide!
Making a Shrimp Cocktail
Making your own Classic Shrimp Cocktail is fast– possibly even faster than attempting to thaw out a pre-assembled frozen platter. All you need to do is place raw frozen shrimp in a cold water bath to thaw while you bring a large pot of water to a boil.
When the water is at a rolling boil, add the shrimp to the pot. (Ideally, all the shrimp should be totally thawed, but if a few are still a partially frozen– it’s okay.)
Boil the shrimp for 3-4 minutes, until they’ve all turned bright pink. Drain the shrimp from the pot, and then quickly add all the shrimp to an ice water bath to cool them off. Mix together all the cocktail sauce ingredients, and you’re ready!
Serve your shrimp on a platter, or be extra fancy-schmancy and serve them in individual glasses. You’ll be the most popular, shrimp-toting person at the party!
Want more SHRIMP recipe ideas? Try these:
- Cajun Shrimp and Grits Appetizers
- Shrimp and Rice with Easy Guacamole
- Mini Tacos with Shrimp + Pineapple
Want more GAME DAY + TAPAS recipe ideas? Try these:
- Vegan Sloppy Joes
- Albondigas de Pescado: Fish Meatballs
- A Canned Sardine Recipe: Mini Sardine Fish Cakes
Serves about 8 people as an appetizer.
- 1 lb raw shrimp, thawed (tails on or off, medium or large shrimp) * See Recipe Notes
- 1/2 cup ketchup organic ketchup, or ketchup without corn syrup preferred
- 2 TB horseradish (or more, if desired) (prepared OR freshly grated)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp mustard
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add shrimp and boil for 3 minutes, or until they've turned pink.
Drain shrimp from the water, and place shrimp in ice water until chilled. Store shrimp in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
Mix together all the ingredients for the cocktail sauce. Add more horseradish if desired.
Serve shrimp on a tray with the sauce on the side, or divide sauce into small glasses and serve with shrimp on the side. (Keep in mind, depending on the size of the shrimp and the shape of the glass, the shrimp may or may not balance well on the edge of the glass.)
If not serving right away, store both the shrimp and the sauce in the fridge.
Should you Pre-Peel the Shrimp? Serve the shrimp either peeled or unpeeled, but keep your guests in mind. If you think your guests will have trouble peeling the shrimp, go ahead and serve them peeled.
The cocktail sauce in this recipe is a variation of a cocktail sauce from Food Network.