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Classic Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

A timeless appetizer, the shrimp cocktail has graced many dinner tables, party spreads, and restaurant menus. Here’s how to make this simple yet elegant dish.


For the Shrimp:

  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, to taste

For the Cocktail Sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (adjust according to your heat preference)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • A few dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco), optional
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare the Shrimp:
  • Fill a large pot with water, add the lemon halves, peppercorns, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the flavors infuse for about 10 minutes.
  • Bring the water back to a boil, then add the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until they are pink and opaque.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to an ice bath (a large bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes) to stop the cooking process.
  • Once cooled, drain the shrimp and pat them dry with paper towels. Place them in the refrigerator to chill.

2. Prepare the Cocktail Sauce:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using). Mix well.
  • Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate the sauce for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

3. Serve:

  • Arrange the chilled shrimp around the edge of a serving platter or in individual cocktail glasses. Place a bowl of cocktail sauce in the center.
  • Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.

Serving Tip:

Classic shrimp cocktail is often accompanied by a slice of lemon and a sprig of parsley for added presentation.

Enjoy your classic shrimp cocktail! Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just enjoying a quiet evening at home, this dish is sure to be a hit.

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