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shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce lemon wedges on black plate

Shrimp Cocktail with Spicy Cocktail Sauce

Fresh, plump shrimp served cold with a side of homemade cocktail sauce are a party favorite that takes almost no time at all.
Course Appetizer, Appetizers
Cuisine American Classic
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chilling Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 People
Calories 66kcal
Author Diana Reis


  • Large pot for boiling


  • 1 Pound Jump Shrimp peeled, deveined
  • ½ Cup Ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Creamed Horseradish
  • 2 Lemons juice of 1 Lemon, 1 lemon for garnish
  • 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Dashes Hot Sauce optional
  • Salt for boiling water
  • 2 Bay Leaves for seasoning water


  • First, prepare the cocktail sauce by mixing together ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and horseradish. Then let it sit in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before serving.
  • Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt to water along with two bay leaves.
  • Prepare an ice bath for the cooked shrimp. Don’t wait until you’ve already put the shrimp in the boiling water, because they cook really fast and you want to have them out and chilling as soon as they are finished.
  • Then, add fresh peeled and deveined shrimp to the boiling, seasoned water. Let cook until the shrimp are opaque and firm. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
  • Scoop the cooked shrimp out of the boiling water and drop them into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Leave them in for about 30 seconds, then remove from the ice water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Finally, arrange on a plate and serve with lemon wedges and homemade spicy cocktail sauce.


Can I use raw frozen shrimp for a fresh shrimp cocktail?
Absolutely, yes! Frozen shrimp are a great option for making fresh shrimp cocktail and are extra easy because they often come cleaned and peeled. The trick is to defrost the frozen shrimp before boiling. You can do this by placing the bag of frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight. Drain away any excess liquid before plunging them into the boiling water.
How long can I keep shrimp cocktail in the refrigerator?
You can keep cooked shrimp in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They need to be put in the fridge two hours after cooking.
However, just because the shrimp is still healthy to eat, doesn’t mean it is going to have prime texture. I would not recommend making a fresh shrimp cocktail any more than a day ahead of when you plan to serve it. On the second and third days, the shrimp starts to lose the plump firm texture and can smell a bit more fishy.
Tips and Tricks
  • Do season the boiling water well with salt and bay leaves. This is the one and only chance to add flavor to the shrimp. The salt brings out the natural flavor of the shrimp and bay leaves, when used sparingly, are a light aromatic that is vaguely mint like. 
  • Watch the shrimp closely once you start to cook them. It is difficult to undercook shrimp because they are small and cook very quickly. It is very easy to overcook them. Look for shrimp to turn opaque and firm up. Take them out as soon as they change color.
  • The ice bath is necessary to stop the cooking quickly. If you were to just drain the shrimp and transfer them hot to the refrigerator, they would continue to cook and then become rubbery.
  • They only need 30 seconds to one minutes to chill in the ice bath. You want them to get cold, but not take on too much water.
  • Promptly remove them from the ice water and pat them dry for perfectly plump tender shrimp.
  • I like to make my cocktail sauce ahead of time, at least 20 minutes prior to serving. You can easily make this up as early as a few days ahead because it can sit in the fridge for up to a week. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. 


Calories: 66kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 473mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 187IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg