Classic Cocktail Sauce for Shrimp and Seafood

Breaded shrimp and cocktail sauce
Jeffreyww/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Ratings (52)
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 10 servings

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. 

If you're like me and aren't a fan of horseradish, you can leave it out. The chili sauce for this recipe isn't the Asian chili paste, it is a spicy 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.

Turn up the heat with some Tabasco or Texas Pete, or add your own favorite hot sauce.

See the tips and variations for how to boil shrimp for shrimp cocktail and how to make prepared horseradish from fresh horseradish root. 


  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (see how to make freshly prepared horseradish, below)
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
  • 1 dash salt (or to taste)
  • 1 dash 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.


It's easy to make prepared horseradish with fresh ingredients. Peel an 8- to 10-inch length of horseradish root. Chop the root and put it in a food processor with 1 tablespoon 2 tablespoons of water and a dash of kosher salt. Horseradish is very strong, so take care to ventilate the room and don't get too close to it once its ground.  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.

Shrimp Cocktail - 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. Add 1 cut-up lemon. Add the shrimp and boil for about 3 minutes, or until opaque and pink. Put them in a colander to drain and run cold water over the shrimp to cool them quickly. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve with the cocktail sauce.