I don’t think appetizers get any more popular or simple, or versatile, than this timeless classic.
If you’re going to serve it at your next party, though, don’t go and settle for those “ready-made” shrimp rings with tasteless cocktail sauce. Cooking your own shrimp and making your own Shrimp Cocktail Sauce is such a breeze, and tastes SO much better too!
Indeed, making cocktail sauce at home is so crazy easy and tastes a million times better than anything you could ever grab off the shelves at your favorite grocery store. Plus, making your own allows you to adjust it to fit your own personal taste. If you like it super zesty, add more horseradish; if you prefer a milder sauce, add less! If you like garlic in yours, feel free to throw some in… adjust the amount of hot sauce to suit your “hot and spicy” preferences. You get the idea!
You’ll soon be a master at this and create your very own flawless shrimp cocktail sauce.
As for the shrimp, I much prefer to cook my own… I’ve never been a fan of pre-cooked shrimp because I find they tend to have a rubbery texture, mostly taste like salt and iodine and lack much of the desired “sea” flavor…
Of course, I’m not stopping you from using pre-cooked shrimp if that was easier for you, or if you didn’t have time or didn’t want to be bothered to cook your own. Even pre-cooked shrimp would be totally worthy of being dunked in this super tasty, crazy delicious, homemade shrimp cocktail sauce.
If you do have time, however, I strongly encourage you to cook your own. Personally, I find that it makes all the difference in the world.
To preserve maximum flavor from my shrimp, I like to cook it with the shell on, and I also prefer to steam it as opposed to boiling it. I like to use the easy peel kind, for easier peeling (duh!) and my personal preference goes to Marina Del Ray’s Wild Caught Argentinian Shrimp, in size 26/30. Notice how vibrantly pink they are, even in their raw state? BEAUTIFUL!
I steam the raw shrimp over boiling water until the crustaceans turn completely pink and opaque, which usually takes about 5 minutes. To ensure even heat distribution, I’ll remove the lid and gently toss the shrimp around from time to time, like 2 to 3 times, during the cooking process.
Then, as soon as they are done cooking, plunge the cooked shrimp in a bath of ice cold water to stop the cooking and bring them down in temperature quasi-instantly. This will give the shrimp a much better, less rubbery texture once chilled. Don’t go leaving your shrimp in the water for too long, though, or you’d end washing down some of their delicious flavor… no bueno!
As soon as the shrimp’s all nice and cold, transfer the critters to a colander and let them drain for a bit; then carefully remove the shells but try and leave the tails on as much as you can. Not only do they look pretty, but the tails are great to hold your shrimp between your fingers while you dunk it in the sauce!
Speaking of sauce…
Now would be a good time to take care of that. Simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix them together with a whisk until well combined.
Use your favorite ketchup or make your own, then add as much or as little horseradish as you like (feel free to use prepared or fresh), throw in some lemon juice, vinegar, a generous (or not so generous) splash of your favorite hot sauce (I used piri piri, but Frank’s Red Hot or Sriracha would also be excellent choices) and some onion powder, white pepper, cinnamon and clove.
Again, you can super easily modify this sauce to match your own personal preferences…
All that’s left to do now is arrange the shrimp on a serving plate, set the sauce in the center of the plate and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges, if desired. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
And then get ready to have your mind blown: this stuff is so good, you probably won’t even want to share. I know I don’t: this whole plate is mine, mine, mine and mine alone. Hands off!
- 908g (2lb) easy peel raw shrimp (fresh or thawed) see notes*
- ½ cup (60ml) ketchup, (storebought or homemade)
- 2 tbsp prepared horseradish (or fresh, finely grated)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp hot sauce (such as piri piri, sriracha, or Frank's Red Hot)
- ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground white pepper
- pinch ground cloves
- Chopped parsley
- Lemon wedges
- Steam the raw shrimp over boiling water until they turn completely pink and opaque, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and gently toss the shrimp from time to time to help with heat distribution.
- As soon as they are done cooking, plunge the cooked shrimp in a bath of ice cold water to stop the cooking and chill them quickly, then transfer them to a colander to let them drain for a bit. Peel the shrimp but leave the tails on as much as you can.
- Make the the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing them with a whisk until well combined.
- Arrange the shrimp on a serving plate, set the sauce in the center of the plate and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges, if desired.
- Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.