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Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Posted May 30 2011 7:52pm

Shrimp cocktail is an all-time favorite of mine so it’s not surprising that I have a shrimp cocktail recipe or two in my files. In addition to being tasty, it’s healthy too.

Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

We enjoyed shrimp cocktail every Christmas Eve when I was growing up and it remains one of the best easy Christmas appetizers recipes, in my opinion. (For me it’s not officially Christmas without out it.)

Now that shrimp is more plentiful and less expensive than it was just a few decades ago, I indulge in shrimp cocktail more often, both as an easy appetizer and quick easy dinner.

More About Shrimp

Shrimp come in several sizes from tiny to colossal and are labeled by the number of shrimp per pound. The best size for cocktails are medium (16 to 25 shrimp per pound).

You can buy frozen raw shrimp either in the shell but not deveined or shelled and deveined. Most frozen cooked shrimp come already shelled and deveined, making them a quick easy option.

Frozen raw shrimp are better when thawed before cooking. Most brands include preferred directions for thawing right on the package so be sure to follow them for best results.

How to Make Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp cocktail is nothing more than cooked shrimp accompanied by a tangy cocktail sauce. So all you need to do to make shrimp cocktail is cook the shrimp and make (or buy) a sauce.

Most of the time to keep things quick and easy, I just thaw and drain already cooked peeled shrimp when making shrimp cocktail, so all I need to do is arrange them on a platter and make a simple cocktail sauce.

If you prefer to cook them yourself, here’s what you need to know.

Deveining Shrimp

Boiling is the most popular way to cook shrimp for cocktail. You can shell and devein them either before or after you cook them, it’s totally up to you. To peel them, start at the large end and peel away the thin shell. To devein them, make a a shallow cut down the center  back (outer curved side) with a small sharp knife and pull out the dark vein. Rinse away any remaining bits of the vein under cool water.

To boil the shrimp, allow 1 quart of water per pound of shrimp, and 2 tablespoons of salt for unshelled shrimp and 1 tablespoon for shelled. Bring the salt and water to a boil in a pot, then add the shrimp, cover the pot and simmer just until the shrimp turn pink.  This should take about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp. Drain and if still in the shell, shell and devein them, leaving the tails on. Chill  them thoroughly.

While the shrimp chill you can make your cocktail sauce any way you like it – it smooth or chunky, spicy, mild, traditional or with the ingredients required to turn it into a Mexican shrimp cocktail. If you don’t know how to make shrimp cocktail sauce, I’ve got several great homemade cocktail sauce recipes here for you to chose from.

When you are ready to serve.  Arrange your shrimp attractively on a platter and serve with your sauce and lots of cocktail napkins.

Classic Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Yield: 1 cup


1 cup ketchup or chili sauce
1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2-3 dashes red hot pepper sauce


Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It’s best to make the sauce at least 30 minutes before serving it to give the flavors a chance to blend.

Creamy Cocktail Sauce Variation: Use 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce, instead of all ketchup and proceed as directed above.

Cranberry Horseradish Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Yield: 2 cups

When you are looking for a unique variation of traditional shrimp cocktail sauce, here’s one worth trying, that’s especially nice during the holidays. This sauce is good with other seafood and fish too.


1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds


Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.

Easy Shrimp Cocktail with Chunky Cocktail Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with onions, undrained
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 pound store-bought large cooked shrimp that have already been peeled and deveined


Place all the ingredients (except the shrimp) in a medium-sized bowl and stir to combine. Cover  and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, arrange the shrimp attractively on a platter. Spoon the sauce into a serving bowl and enjoy

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Easy Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

I never knew there was such a thing as Mexican shrimp cocktail when I was growing up. (Heck, I didn’t even know what an avocado was until much later in life!) But if I had, I think I would have fallen in love with it immediately.  This makes a great quick easy summer dinner when you want something light and healthy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, undrained
1 small avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Hot pepper sauce to taste


Place all the ingredients (except shrimp) in a medium-sized bowl and stir to combine. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, arrange the shrimp attractively on a platter.  Spoon the sauce into a serving bowl and enjoy.

More Easy Healthy Shrimp Recipes

Favorite Healthy Shrimp Recipes – a collection of great easy healthy shrimp recipes when you are looking for quick easy dinner ideas
Shrimp Salad Recipes – easy and delicious shrimp salad done several tasty ways
Shrimp & Pasta Recipes – easy and delicious easy dinners with pasta and shrimp

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