Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

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Shrimp cocktail is a classic appetizer that’s perfect for any occasion. This refreshing dish combines tender shrimp with a zesty sauce, making it a favorite at parties and gatherings. Let’s dive into this delicious recipe and learn how to make it step-by-step.


  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • ½ cup lemon juice, divided
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus a little more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • Olive oil, for garnish


Step 1: Prepare the Shrimp

  1. Boil the Shrimp:
    • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and a pinch of salt to the boiling water.
    • Add the peeled and cleaned shrimp to the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque.
  2. Cool the Shrimp:
    • Remove the shrimp from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain the shrimp and pat them dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Marinate the Shrimp

  1. Marinate:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, finely chopped onion, chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Toss to coat the shrimp evenly.
    • Cover and refrigerate the shrimp mixture for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

Step 3: Prepare the Cocktail Sauce

  1. Mix Sauce Ingredients:
    • In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce (if using). Stir until well combined.

Step 4: Assemble the Shrimp Cocktail

  1. Combine Shrimp and Sauce:
    • Gently toss the marinated shrimp with the prepared cocktail sauce until the shrimp are well coated.
  2. Serve:
    • Transfer the shrimp cocktail to a serving dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with additional chopped parsley.

Step 5: Serve

  1. Serve and Enjoy:
    • Serve the shrimp cocktail chilled with lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy this refreshing and classic appetizer!

Cooking Notes and Tips

  • Shrimp: Use large shrimp for the best texture and presentation. Ensure they are properly cleaned and deveined.
  • Chilling: Allowing the shrimp to marinate in the refrigerator enhances the flavors and makes the dish more refreshing.
  • Spice Level: Adjust the amount of hot sauce in the cocktail sauce to suit your taste preference.


Spicy Shrimp Cocktail

  • Extra Spice:
    • Add more hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper to the cocktail sauce for an extra spicy kick.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

  • Add Avocado and Cilantro:
    • Add diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and a splash of lime juice to the shrimp mixture for a Mexican twist.

Mediterranean Shrimp Cocktail

  • Add Feta and Olives:
    • Add crumbled feta cheese and sliced black olives to the shrimp mixture for a Mediterranean flavor profile.

Serving Suggestions


  • With Crackers:
    • Serve the shrimp cocktail with a variety of crackers or crusty bread for a delightful appetizer.


  • Wine:
    • Pair with a crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
  • Cocktails:
    • Serve with a classic cocktail like a Bloody Mary or a Margarita.

Additional Sides

  • Salad:
    • Serve alongside a fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette for a balanced meal.


Q: Can I make this shrimp cocktail ahead of time? A: Yes, you can prepare the shrimp and cocktail sauce a day in advance. Store them separately in the refrigerator and combine them just before serving.

Q: How do I store leftovers? A: Store any leftover shrimp cocktail in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Q: Can I use frozen shrimp? A: Yes, you can use frozen shrimp. Thaw them completely before cooking and proceed with the recipe as directed.

Q: Can I substitute the mayonnaise? A: Yes, you can use Greek yogurt or a mixture of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise for a lighter version of the cocktail sauce.

Q: What can I use instead of tomato sauce? A: You can use ketchup or a combination of ketchup and a bit of horseradish for a more traditional cocktail sauce flavor.

Shrimp cocktail is a classic and refreshing appetizer that’s perfect for any occasion. With its tender shrimp, zesty sauce, and fresh flavors, this dish is sure to impress. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or try one of the variations, shrimp cocktail is always a hit. Enjoy making and sharing this delightful appetizer with your family and friends!

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