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Classic Shrimp Cocktail.
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5 from 7 votes

Classic Shrimp Cocktail

Ready in minutes and always a crowd pleaser, Classic Shrimp Cocktail is the perfect make-ahead appetizer for any gathering. It combines succulent boiled shrimp with a spicy tomato-based sauce for the ultimate blending of flavors.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Total Time32 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Southern
Servings: 6
Calories: 234kcal
Author: Chula King


Cocktail Sauce

  • 12 ounce bottle of chili sauce (See Tip 1)
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish (See Tip 2)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 pounds large head-on shrimp (10 to 15 count or 16 to 20 count) (See Tip 3)
  • 1-½ quarts water
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce


Cocktail Sauce

  • Whisk together chili sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and pepper. Season with more horseradish if a hotter sauce is desired. Refrigerate until ready to use. Yield: 1-½ cups


  • Remove shrimp heads and shells, leaving tails in-tact; devein. Add onion, celery lemon, Worcestershire sauce, salt, paprika and hot sauce to water. Bring boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend together. Return water to a boil. Add shrimp and return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, and cover in ice water to cool completely. Rinse well with cold water and drain. Pat shrimp dry with paper towel; refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Serve with cocktail sauce.
  • Yield: Serves 4.


  1. Chili sauce is similar to ketchup but is spicier. In a pinch, you could use ketchup.
  2. Prepared horseradish is not the same as creamy horseradish or horseradish sauce. Prepared horseradish which is grated horseradish in vinegar is found in the cold food section of a grocery store. Don't be tempted to use creamy horseradish or horseradish sauce for the cocktail sauce.
  3. The 10 to 15 count shrimp is preferable if you're going to serve individual servings in a wine glass. Either the 10 to 15 count or 16 to 20 count works fine if serving the shrimp in a bowl with the cocktail sauce on the side.


Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 381mg | Sodium: 1765mg | Potassium: 419mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 21.3mg | Calcium: 248mg | Iron: 3.9mg