Classic Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

5 from 3 votes
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The Classic Shrimp Cocktail will always be a hit with a dinner crowd! This popular party option is super easy to make and goes well with some good conversation! It’s a great appetizer before serving up some delicious Porterhouse Steak  especially when you serve it with my homemade cocktail sauce!

2 servings of Classic Shrimp Cocktail in sauce garnish with a slice of lemon and parsley leaves
Classic Shrimp Cocktail

Classic Shrimp Cocktail

It often surprises me when people seem a bit intimidated about trying to make shrimp cocktail, but it’s often just a fear of over or under cooking the shrimp, or they think that the homemade sauce is hard (you are going to be shocked how easy it is, I’m serious)  But this is really a basic recipe and it’s simple to make- so don’t overthink it (easier said than done!).  

How To Make a Shrimp Cocktail  

  1. Quickly prep the homemade cocktail sauce by following the recipe instructions.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and place it beside your stove.
  3. Bring a pot with water and add about 2 teaspoons of salt
  4. Once it’s started to boil you can add the shrimp and stir until they’re cooked
  5. You’ll know the shrimp are ready once they’ve turned pink. Remove them and place them into the bowl of iced water to cool off, then drain.
  6. Add about 1 or 2 ounces of the cocktail sauce to each glass.
  7. Slice the lemon into quarters and add 6 cocktail shrimp around the serving glass. Then just add a lemon wedge with a sprig of parsley and you’re good to go!

6 cocktail shrimp around a serving glass with Cocktail Sauce garnish with a slice of lemon and parsley leaves

Shrimp Cocktail Tips and Tricks

  • Buy frozen shrimp already deveined and cleaned and with the tail still on. All you have to do is cook them quickly, without all of the dirty work! This is my favorite cheat!
  • To REALLY save time use pre-cooked shrimp! I’ll tell you straight, no one at your party is going to be able to tell the difference! Get big, jumbo pre-cooked shrimp. Who cares? The jumbo might be hard to find pre-cooked however.
  • Jumbo shrimp are the most impressive with this and you do need very big shrimp if you are using cocktail glasses. If you aren’t buying a pre-made shrimp cocktail then go for it with the good quality large shrimp.
  • It’s all about the homemade cocktail sauce, so don’t skip out on making it.
  • You can pan-fry the shrimp in some garlic if you prefer to give them an extra flavour!
  • You can make the cocktail sauce a day in advance if you keep it refrigerated.
  • The shrimp can also be cooked a day in advance and are served cold.
  • You can add some variation according to taste, e.g if you want a more tangy sauce try adding more lemon juice.


high angle shot of cocktail shrimp around a serving glass with Cocktail Sauce garnish with a slice of lemon and parsley leaves

Other Shrimp Recipes You Might Like:

Shrimp Surprise Spread – The Best Shrimp Dip Ever!

Easy Shrimp Fried Rice

Buttery Old Bay Steamed Shrimp Recipe

Shrimp Alfredo

OK, can we all give ONE BIG HUGE CHEER THAT SCHOOL IS BACK IN?!!  I’m celebrating today. Man, it’s been a summer – the kids are 13 and 15 and have decided that this was the year that they are going to start arguing non-stop. I was ready to knock their heads together and it didn’t help that we literally had the worst summer weather ever. Rainy, cold days and miserable. BAH! Fall had better be nice!

Happy baking and happy back to school for everyone!!!!! Here’s to a great fall and (dare I say it?) that means that Christmas is coming! I’ll be getting started on those Christmas recipes this month, I can’t wait!






Cooked, cold shrimp served in a coupe or martini glass with homemade cocktail sauce is the perfect appetizer for every occasion! This Classic Shrimp Cocktail Recipe has been popular for decades for good reason! #shrimp #appetizer


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Classic Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Cooked, cold shrimp served in a coupe or martini glass with homemade cocktail sauce is the perfect appetizer for every occasion! This Classic Shrimp Cocktail Recipe has been popular for decades for good reason!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time
30 minutes
Cook Time
3 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


  • 24 large shrimp cooked peeled but leaving the tail on and deveined ( plan on 6 per person)
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 batch homemade cocktail sauce
  • 4 martini or coupe cocktail glasses


  • Prepare the homemade cocktail sauce according to the recipe instructions.

To cook the shrimp

  • Place a large bowl of ice water beside your stove.
  • Fill pot with enough water to boil your shrimp in, then add in 1-2 teaspoons of salt.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then add the shrimp.
  • Cook the shrimp until they are just pink, then remove with a slotted spoon straight into the bowl of iced water to cool them immediately and stop the cooking process.
  • Once cooled, drain the shrimp.
  • Place 1-2 ounces of the cocktail sauce in each glass.
  • Slice the lemon into quarters.
  • Place 6 cocktail shrimp around one side of the serving glass, then place in a lemon wedge, a sprig of parsley and serve!

Recipe Notes

Make sure to make your own homemade cocktail sauce, it's SO much better than store bought! 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 44kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 91mg, Sodium: 280mg, Potassium: 66mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 59mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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