Cocktail Sauce Recipe

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This is the perfect cocktail sauce recipe. It’s sweet, spicy and delicious with shrimp or oysters or any seafood. The best part, you probably already have all the ingredients at home.

This is the perfect cocktail sauce recipe. It's sweet, spicy and delicious with shrimp or oysters or any seafood. The best part, you probably already have all the ingredients at home.

I was at an oyster bar in New Orleans a couple of months ago. I ordered oysters, of course. When the waiter brought them he asked, “Do you know how to make cocktail sauce?”

I actually do, and did, know how to make cocktail sauce but I found the question surprising. It’s not usually what one gets asked when the waiter brings your food. So I just looked at him blankly. He took this as a no and proceeded to make cocktail sauce in front of us at the table while explaining away…

“You take a little cup like this. You squirt in ketchup, scoop in horseradish and then go in with a splash of Worcestershire and hot sauce. Maybe a bit more. Stir. Taste. Do you like it? Good. Enjoy!” And then he was gone.

After he left, my delightful dinner companion admitted that he had never made cocktail sauce before, and until that moment he’d had no idea what was in it or that you even could make it yourself. So we experimented by making a couple of little batches, one for each of us. Both of us wound up with more hot sauce and a lot more horseradish than the waiter started us with.

How fun it was to stir these condiments together at our table and taste test to make it perfect for each of us. We had a blast that night, and that was even before we tasted the oysters. Omg. Don’t get me started on those!

Making cocktail sauce like that was so fun that it got me thinking about making cocktail sauce at home and how, just like we did at the table, you can customize it to your own taste. You can make it spicier, saltier, sweeter – whatever you want!

I’ve said above that this is a “perfect” cocktail sauce recipe. And it really is. Because you get to adjust it to be perfectly right for you. I’ve given you the ingredients and measurements that I use, and trust me when I say that it’s good stuff. But I’m also giving you permission to change it up and add more or less of things to suit you more.

There is one thing that I’ll say before sharing the recipe though. Make sure you like your horseradish. Not all horseradish sauces are created equal. Some are very mild, some are creamy, some are crazy-spicy. Taste your horseradish before adding it. If it’s really mild you might never get the pungency that you want once you mix it with the ketchup. If it’s very hot, you might not end up needing to add very much. For your reference, the horseradish I buy is sold in the refrigerated part of the grocery store near the refrigerated pickles. I find it to be much spicier with a richer flavor than the horseradish that is sold in the aisles. If you can get your hands on fresh horseradish, do give it a try. Just, as with the jarred horseradish, taste a tiny bit before you start adding it.

This is the perfect cocktail sauce. It's sweet, spicy and delicious with shrimp or any seafood. And, you probably already have all the ingredients at home.

Cocktail Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup


This is the perfect cocktail sauce. It’s sweet, spicy and delicious with shrimp or any seafood. And, you probably already have all the ingredients at home. The first three ingredients are required. The second set of three you can use zero, one, two or three of.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp. horseradish
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce, like Tabasco (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Taste. Add more horseradish if desired.

8 Responses to “Cocktail Sauce Recipe”

  1. Donna Haga — September 21, 2019 @ 7:08 pm (#)

    Yes please go to Felix’s it is right across the street from Acme Oyster where you will find a line around the block. We decided on Felix’s and it is a hole in the wall but the greatest place to get the real New Orleans experience. 

    • Christine Pittman — September 23, 2019 @ 6:10 pm (#)

      Glad to hear you like it there as well, Donna! So fantastic.

  2. Austin — August 26, 2019 @ 12:24 pm (#)

    What is the name of this oyster bar in New Orleans? I’m headed there this week!

    • Christine Pittman — August 27, 2019 @ 6:12 pm (#)

      The oyster bar is called Felix’s! Enjoy, Austin!

  3. FWM — January 16, 2019 @ 1:15 am (#)

    I’ve found that bottled chili sauce makes a better seafood cocktail base (more tomato flavor), plus, lemon juice should NEVER be optional because that’s what makes seafood sing, IMO. If you add salt, be sure to use freshly ground sea salt for obvious reasons. Since I’m from the South, I always add a few grinds of black pepper too. And for more zest, add a little islands hot sauce such as Pickapeppa to the Tabasco. You can be liberal with the ingredients because, if it is too spicy, you can always back it off a bit by adding ketchup to taste.

    • Christine Pittman — January 16, 2019 @ 8:51 am (#)

      Thanks for the tips!

  4. SCV — October 5, 2018 @ 5:44 am (#)

    How is this different then anyone else’s I have been making cocktail this way for yours.

    • Christine Pittman — October 29, 2018 @ 12:21 pm (#)

      It’s not different. It’s pretty standard. But people are often looking for how to make the standard recipe at home and so I’ve shown them how. I have a variation on cocktail sauce over here if you’re looking for something different

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