It turns out that figuring out how to make shrimp cocktail was surprisingly easy. No fancy ingredients boiled into the water and no stress about getting the shrimp cooked just perfectly.
Some people overthink shrimp cocktail. Boiling carrots, celery seed and whole black peppercorns for up to 30 minutes, essentially making a brine for a quick dunk.
Why Is Cooking Shrimp So Hard?
I’ve made shrimp that way and I’ve made them this way and let me tell ya… I can’t tell the difference.
I also think people are intimidated by shrimp cocktail. Either worried about overcooking or undercooking and thus ruining a pricey appetizer or munchie.
It doesn’t take much heat or time to cook shrimp. The shrimp will tell you when they are done. They turn pink and their tails curl.
How Much Shrimp to Make Per Person
How much you make really depends on several factors. What else are you making with your meal and how large are the shrimp?
If it is a sit-down meal with large or extra large shrimp, account for 4-5 per person. If you are hosting a party and it is buffet style, 2-3 ounces per person should be good. I would also suggest using a smaller shrimp.
This is the perfect appetizer for any parties I host, especially around the holidays. I mean, is it really a New Year’s Eve party if there’s no shrimp cocktail appetizer?
Why You’ll Love This Classic Shrimp Cocktail
Plump shrimp served with a homemade cocktail sauce- what’s not to love!
- Quick and easy – From start to finish, you can have this shrimp ready in only 15 minutes total.
- Perfect for parties – Because it’s so quick to make, you can easily have it ready to go for a party in no time.
- Loved by all – A classic dish such as this is sure to be a hit with just about anyone you serve it to.
For this Classic Shrimp Cocktail recipe, I went back to the basics. The only ingredients in what I consider to be the best shrimp cocktail recipe are lemon, salt and, of course, shrimp cocktail sauce for serving.
- Water – A large pot of hot water will essentially serve as our poaching method. The shrimp don’t need to cook long, just long enough to turn pink and absorb that lemon flavor.
- Lemon – Lemon wedges will be boiled in the water to help give the shrimp some flavor. You can also serve your shrimp cocktail with extra lemon wedges or lemon slices. Some people like to squeeze lemon juice on theirs.
- Salt – I always use Kosher salt for this homemade shrimp cocktail. It gets added while the water is boiling to help create tender shrimp.
- Jumbo shrimp – For a classic shrimp cocktail, you’ll want tail-on shrimp that have been deveined. Frozen shrimp is usually the way you buy it at the grocery store. But just make sure it id deveined shrimp.
- Homemade cocktail sauce – You can either make your own cocktail sauce, or just buy some at the store. I like making my own so that I can control the heat with the amount of horseradish I use, but it’s just personal preference.
How to Make Shrimp Cocktail
You are going to love how easy it is to make this juicy shrimp cocktail.
- Boil lemon and water. Bring water and lemon to a rolling boil in a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Add salt. Add salt, boil a little longer.
- Boil shrimp. Add raw shrimp and remove from heat.
- Allow to turn pink. You’ll know when they’re done because cooked shrimp turn pink and the tails curl.
- Drain and cool. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. You can transfer to an ice bath to speed this process along.
- Refrigerate. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve with cocktail sauce.
How to Serve Shrimp Cocktail
There are plenty of ways to serve these perfectly-cooked shrimp! I like to serve with classic cocktail sauce. You can dress up a store bought sauce by adding hot sauce and worcestershire sauce, or make your own.
My favorite way to serve them is with some saltine crackers or even tortilla chips. Serve them on a shrimp cocktail platter with sauce and you’ve got a winning dish.
There are a few ways you can make this shrimp cocktail your own.
- Seasonings – If you want to step up the flavor, try sprinkling some celery salt, or my favorite secret ingredient, Old Bay seasoning!
- Chop it up – You can chop up the shrimp and turn it into more of a salad. Add in red onion, creamy avocado and fresh lime juice and give it a toss.
- Mexican shrimp cocktail recipe – With a blend of tomato juice, avocado and seasonings, try my Mexican shrimp cocktail!
Storage and Freezing
Can You Make Shrimp Cocktail Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can make shrimp cocktail ahead of time by cooking and chilling the shrimp, and preparing the cocktail sauce separately. Keep the components refrigerated, and assemble the dish just before serving for the freshest taste and texture.
How Do You Store Shrimp Cocktail?
You can store this shrimp dish in the refrigerator for three to four days. Make sure it is in an airtight container. If you want to make it ahead of time, make it at least 1 hour before serving, but you can make it up to 24 in advance. Make sure you refrigerate until ready to eat.
Can You Freeze Shrimp Cocktail?
Most shrimp was previously frozen and should not be frozen a second time and cocktail sauce can be frozen.
More Easy Shrimp Recipes
How To Make Shrimp Cocktail
- Bring the water and lemon to a rolling boil in a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Add the salt, boil for 1 more minute, allowing it to dissolve.
- Add the shrimp and remove from the heat.
- Stir the shrimp until they turn pink and curl.
- Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve with Classic Cocktail Sauce.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.