Classic Cocktail Sauce for Shrimp and Seafood

Breaded shrimp and cocktail sauce
Jeffreyww/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 10 servings

One of the most perfect food pairings is shrimp and cocktail sauce. Although easy enough to buy off of the shelf, making your own cocktail sauce allows you to customize it, adjusting the level of spice and kick from the horseradish (if you're not a fan of horseradish, you can leave it out). Turn up the heat with some Tabasco or Texas Pete, or add your own favorite hot sauce.

Serve this classic seafood cocktail sauce with boiled chilled shrimp or another kind of shellfish. It also makes a great dip or sauce for fried shrimp, scallops, or fish. 


  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash of Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
  • 1 dash of salt, or to taste
  • 1 dash of freshly ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Combine the chili sauce and ketchup in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Blend well.

  2. Serve this cocktail sauce with shrimp, oysters, and other shellfish, or serve it with fried shellfish or fish.


The chili sauce in this recipe isn't the Asian chili paste, it is a tangy ketchup-type of sauce found near the ketchup in the supermarket. If you can't find chili sauce, the cocktail sauce may be made with all ketchup.

It's easy to make homemade horseradish with fresh ingredients; all you need are fresh horseradish root, water, salt, and vinegar. Peel an 8- to 10-inch length of horseradish root, chop the root, and put it in a food processor with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and a dash of kosher salt. Process until finely ground. Drain off excess water and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Transfer to a jar and cover. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. (Horseradish is very strong, so take care to ventilate the room and don't get too close to it once it is ground.)

A delicious homemade cocktail sauce is the perfect partner for not only shrimp cocktail but also raw shellfish, crab legs, fried calamari, and fried fish.

Classic Shrimp Cocktail

Party guests are always pleased when a tray of shrimp cocktail appears, but when a homemade tray comes out of the kitchen, you can bet it will become empty very quickly. It tastes better than store-bought, with a more appealing texture. To make it yourself, peel and devein 2 to 3 dozen medium to large shrimp, or about 1 1/2 pounds, leaving the tails on. Bring a large saucepan of water (about 3 quarts) to a boil over high heat and add 1 cut-up lemon. Add the shrimp and boil for about 3 minutes, or until opaque and pink. Transfer to a colander and run cold water over the shrimp to cool them quickly; drain well. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve with the homemade cocktail sauce.