This Homemade Shrimp Cocktail with spicy cocktail sauce will make you rethink ever buying store-bought shrimp cocktail again. The flavor infused in this appetizer from the seafood stock combined with this tasty cocktail sauce is unmatched.
Why You Need to Make This Homemade
Shrimp cocktail is often the forgotten-about appetizer that we pick up at the supermarket last minute before our guests arrive. It's a bland, rubbery shrimp dipped in barely seasoned ketchup. The alternative is the BEST homemade shrimp cocktail. And the best part is it only takes 15 minutes.
When you buy from the store and the shrimp comes already cooked, it loses all of its flavor upon defrosting. Sometimes, it's necessary to pick up last-minute items at the supermarket, but this shrimp paired with our spicy cocktail sauce truly makes this hors d'oeuvre worth having on the table.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Shrimp Stock. It's important to keep the shells of the shrimp to make the stock to boil the shrimp. A lot of the flavor comes from the shells.
Cocktail Sauce. The key to the cocktail sauce is the calabrian chili peppers. I always get mine from Trader Joe's but there are plenty of brands that sell them. I like to let the cocktail sauce marinate overnight but it's not necessary.
How to Boil the Shrimp
This is the step where we infuse all of the flavor into the shrimp. It's important to buy uncooked shrimp with the shell on. The cocktail sauce is to die for, but most of the flavor of this dish is in the shrimp.
Peel the shrimp and place the shrimp aside. Save the shells for the stock!
Start by filling a large pot with water ¾ of the way. Add 1 lager or golden ale to the water. I used a Landshark for mine. Squeeze in the juice from a lemon and throw the lemons in. Add the shells, stir in two tablespoon of old bay seasoning, and bring to a boil.
Once the stock comes to a boil, add in your shrimp.
You're going to boil them for 2-3 minutes or until they are pink and the tails begin curling. While cooking the shrimp, stay right on top of them. Overcooking them will result in a rubbery texture.
As soon as the shrimp are done, remove them from the heat and strain them. Transfer the shrimp right into an ice bath and allow them to cool for 5 minutes.
Strain them again and toss in 2-3 tablespoon of old bay seasoning. The shrimp will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days, so this is the perfect dish to get out of the way in advance before your guests arrive.
Spicy Cocktail Sauce
The key to this sauce is the calabrian chili peppers. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then taste!
Adjust the heat of the sauce, by taste testing and then add more hot sauce or add in some Tabasco to increase the heat. Add more ketchup if it's too hot.
- When boiling the shrimp, be ready to pull them out immediately so that they don't overcook. As soon as they are opaque or pink, remove them from the stock.
- Letting the spicy cocktail sauce sit overnight will let the flavors marinate and make it taste even better.
Making Ahead and Storage
This is a great appetizer to make a day or 2 in advance. In fact, it will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Place the shrimp in an airtight container and refrigerate. Keep the cocktail sauce in a bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap. It will keep for 7 days.
Guests will always pick on shrimp cocktail, so whether you make this or buy it from the store, people will eat it. But if you want people to remember your appetizers as more than just a time filler before dinner, try this dish because I guarantee people will compliment it.
More Amazing Seafood Dishes!
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The Best Homemade Shrimp Cocktail
- 1 large pot
- 1 lager or golden ale
- 1-2 pounds shrimp
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup old bay seasoning
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ tablespoon calabrian peppers
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- ½ tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire
- Defrost shrimp overnight or in running cold water. If you buy unpeeled shrimp, you can save the peels for the boil. Peel and devein. Leave the tails on.
- In a large pot, fill to ¾ of the way with water. Add your beer, squeeze the juice from the lemon, and place the squeezed lemon in the pot. Stir in half of the old bay seasoning and bring to a boil. If you saved, peels you can also put peels into the pot for taste.
- While waiting for the water to come to a boil, combine cocktail sauce ingredients, stir, and store in the fridge covered.
- Once the water comes to a boil, drop in your shrimp for 2-3 minutes or until pink and the tails start curling. Strain the shrimp and immediate place in a bowl of ice water for 10-15 minutes to stop the cooking process. Strain and serve with cocktail sauce.
- When boiling the shrimp, be ready to pull them out immediately so that they don't overcook. As soon as they are opaque, remove them from the stock.
- Letting the spicy cocktail sauce sit over night will let the flavors marinate and make it taste even better.