Make Your Own Cocktail Sauce

Save money and never throw out cocktail sauce again

Shrimps and cocktail sauce in bowl
Daniel Grill / Getty Images

A quick homemade cocktail sauce can save money, avoid waste, and taste great at the same time. Since it isn't useful for much beyond seafood, half-empty jars can sit in your refrigerator for months. It's also not the cheapest condiment and it can be hard to find one you actually like.

The good news is that making your own cocktail sauce is very easy. You probably have the three base ingredients right there in your kitchen. If not, you will find that they are a better investment than store-bought cocktail sauce because you can use them in other recipes.

Cocktail Sauce Ingredients

Cocktail sauce is nothing more than ketchup, prepared horseradish, and lemon juice. If those three items are in your refrigerator, you're set.

If you look at the ingredient list of many commercial cocktail sauces, you will notice that it is not this simple. That's because the majority of those include additives like high fructose corn syrup. Not only is this homemade version cheaper, but it's also good to know that it's healthier.


To make cocktail sauce, mix 1 cup ketchup with 2 tablespoons horseradish and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Stir it well and give it a taste. You'll notice that it tastes exactly like the cocktail sauces you're used to buying.

You can add more of any of the three ingredients to adjust the flavor to your preference. For the best results, chill your sauce before serving.

Beyond the ability to customize it, you'll also enjoy this recipe because you can make as much as you like. Either make just enough for the one meal or mix up a little extra to store in the refrigerator.

Customize the Flavor of Your Cocktail Sauce

Ketchup, horseradish, and lemon juice create a nice foundation for a great homemade cocktail sauce. Adding spices and other ingredients will enhance its flavor and make it even better.

Look around your kitchen and think about what you can add to complement that signature taste. Begin with 1/2 teaspoon or less of each ingredient. Continue to stir and taste until you're happy with the results.

Some of the more popular options include:

How Much Money Are You Saving?

Prepared cocktail sauces range in price from $5 to $15 for a 12-ounce bottle. Some of those cheaper options will need a little help in the flavoring department, so you may find yourself adding an ingredient or two anyway. But how much money are you really saving by making your own cocktail sauce?

  • A cheap 24-ounce bottle of ketchup can be picked up for about $2. At that price, 1 cup costs about $.67.
  • A 6-ounce jar of decent horseradish can be found for around $3. Two tablespoons of that would cost about $.50.
  • The average lemon yields about 3 tablespoons of juice, which is a little more than what is needed. Let's assume you found lemons at the market for $.65 each.

In this scenario, 1 cup (8 ounces) of homemade cocktail sauce costs $1.82. There's proof that five minutes of your time can save you at least $3 while reducing the clutter in your fridge.