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Shrimp Cocktail

Recipe Info

Difficulty: Easy
Mess Level: Low
Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10 min


  • ½ LB Shrimp, frozen or fresh
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1-3 Tablespoons Spicy or Mild Horseradish
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Worcester Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • Dash of Hot Sauce (optional)


  1. Defrost your shrimp under cold, running water. Then peel them, leaving the tail and one segment of the shell on. See How to Get Perfectly Cooked Shrimp Every Time for more details on peeling and cooking shrimp.
  2. In a medium pot, cover the shrimp in cold water and then turn the heat to high. You can throw in a bay leaf, half a lemon, and some peppercorns if you’d like to add a little extra flavor but it will be fine either way.
  3. Watch closely, as soon as the first bubble of a boil appears, your shrimp will be perfectly cooked.
  4. Strain the shrimp and run cold water over them or plunge them into an ice bath till quite cold, then pat them dry. Keep the shrimp cold until ready to serve.
  5. Meanwhile, mix together the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, salt and Worcestershire sauce adding a dash of your favorite hot sauce if you like it spicy.
  6. Taste the sauce and adjust with more ingredients as needed.
  7. Serve the sauce in a bowl or cocktail glass with the shrimp hanging over the edge. If the shrimp won't stay, cut a small slit in the curve and hook the slit over the edge of the glass. Enjoy!

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Savannah Says...

  1. Why does seafood need to be kept colder than most things?

    1. Blame it on their environment...
      Seafood lives in the cold ocean so the bacteria it carries is used to surviving in a colder environment than something like beef. Keeping seafood frozen or packed between bags of ice in your fridge is the best way to keep it fresh.
  2. How do I know what to adjust if I don’t like my cocktail sauce?

    1. Just a spoonful of sugar or...
      Try to determine what taste you don’t like, is it too acidic? Too bland? Once you figure that out, add the opposite. For example, the ketchup is sweet, the lemon sour, the Worcestershire is salty, etc.. For more info on flavors check out our Managing Flavor Profiles article.

Ramblings of a Line Cook

I’ve eaten so much shrimp in the last two months I feel as though I might turn into a crustacean... This is mostly due to the fact that I am really bad about taking things out of the freezer to thaw and then I find myself at 6 pm, hungry with a 2 pound brick of frozen chicken breasts or a can of black beans for the meal's protein. I don’t think I need to explain in detail why I stay away from black beans *hums Pumba’s theme song from the Lion King*

So I've come to rely on shrimp because I can thaw it in about 10 minutes and cook it in five which is even faster than ordering a pizza. Since I've been making shrimp so frequently, I’ve come up with all sorts of fantastic ways to eat it.

Shrimp cocktail is a classic and is perfect as an appetizer or an accompaniment to whatever leftovers I’ve scrounged up from the fridge that night. You can make it ahead if you’re the ‘think ahead’ type (please teach me your ways!) or whip it up last minute if you’re in a pinch. This is the ultimate lazy party food, you use hardly any dishes or silverware and everyone thinks you’re a goddess... For other shrimp ideas check out Simple Pad Thai and Shrimp Ceviche.

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