6 shrimp hanging off of a glass with cocktail sauce in the glass.

How To Make A Perfect Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Learn how to make a perfect shrimp cocktail at home, including your own homemade cocktail sauce and instructions for the type of shrimp to use and how to cook them so that they’re tender, juicy and delicious.


Units Scale
  • 24 large shrimp (2125 count per pound, raw, deveined and easy peel, thawed*)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 of a lemon (optional)
  • 810 peppercorns (optional)
  • a handful of fresh parsley (optional)
  • 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. Fill a large saucepan 3/4 full of water.
  2. Add salt.
  3. If using lemon, squeeze the juice of the lemon into the pot and add the peel and flesh once squeezed. Add the peppercorns and parsley if using.
  4. Bring the pot to a rapid boil over high heat.
  5. Remove from the heat and let it stop boiling.
  6. Add the shrimp. Stir. Put the lid on the saucepan.Cover the pot. Let sit for 4-5 minutes, until shrimp are opaque and pink.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath: In a large bowl put two cups of ice cubes and fill halfway with cold water.
  8. When shrimp are cooked, drain off the hot liquid and transfer shrimp (but not the aromatics) to the ice bath. Let them sit in there for a few minutes to fully cool off before draining.
  9. Peel shrimp but leave the tails on.
  10. In a medium bowl, combine the ketchup, horseradish, pinch of salt, and the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce, if using.
  11. Taste, add more horseradish if desired.
  12. Divide sauce among 4 small bowls or wine glasses or martini glasses.
  13. Hang shrimp from the rims. Serve immediately. (See above in blog post for alternate serving suggestions.)

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*You can make this using still-frozen shrimp. You just need to keep them in the hot water (step#6) for longer, about 10 minutes. See information about cooking shrimp from frozen over here.