Easy shrimp cocktail (roasted or poached)

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Shrimp cocktail is an appetizer staple in many restaurants, but it's very easy to make at home and much more affordable. In less than 15 minutes, you can eat delicious shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce to serve at any party or special occasion.

Every time I see a shrimp cocktail on a menu or at a party, I immediately want to eat it all. There is something so delicious about the sweet cold shrimp and the hot sauce. It makes me hungry just thinking about it. Plus, it's low in calories (and points), making it obvious to anyone trying to eat healthy.

However, I don't love the price. Shrimp cocktail at a restaurant can cost between $ 10 and $ 15 and you usually end up with only 4-6 shrimp. Do it at home and you can eat more than a pound of shrimp for the same price. And don't get me started at the store bought shrimp cocktail rings. In my opinion, they are almost always a disappointment. Shrimp are watery and tasteless.

So instead of throwing away a nice penny at a restaurant or on store-bought cocktail rings, make your own delicious shrimp cocktail at home. It couldn't be easier to make and it's very tasty. We eat it all summer long and I am regularly asked what my secret is to making shrimp that taste so good.

Two ways to make shrimp cocktail

When it comes to making this snack, there are two methods that work very well. The traditional option is to quickly poach the shrimp in water with some herbs, spices, and lemon juice. The other option is to grill the shrimp, according to the famous Ina Garten recipe. My personal favorite: grilling. I think it adds a little extra flavor and the shrimp always come out perfect every time.

  • Poaching: Fill a large pot with water and add 1 lemon in half, 1/4 onion, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1-2 bay leaves and some peppercorns. You can also add Old Bay, parsley, or any other seasoning you want. Bring to a rapid boil and add the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes until pink and opaque. Remove immediately and add to an ice bath to stop cooking.
  • Roast: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix shrimp with olive oil, salt, pepper, and seasonings as desired. Put in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes until it is pink and opaque.

How to make cocktail sauce

Making your own homemade cocktail sauce is really extremely easy and can be made in less than five minutes.

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  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish prepared (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco to taste
  • Pinch of salt (if necessary)
  • Instructions: Mix everything and test. Adjust as needed. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

What kind of shrimp to buy for shrimp cocktail?

Unless you live somewhere where you can buy fresh shrimp from the ship, you are likely to buy frozen shrimp. And you know what? Frozen shrimp are great. It freezes instantly as soon as it's caught, so it preserves all that great fresh shrimp flavor. Wondering about that "fresh" shrimp in your supermarket. 99% of the time it's just thawed frozen shrimp.

The next question about shrimp is which size is better. Personally, I think the shrimp cocktail is best when you use 21-25 shrimp per pound or 26-30 per pound. This is considered giant and large shrimp. These sizes look beautiful on a serving tray, are affordable, and stay nice and cute. Smaller shrimp will work too, just keep in mind they will cook faster.

Lastly, I always look for raw shrimp that deveins without the shell. This eliminates the need to clean and shell the shrimp yourself. Save tons of time.

How to defrost shrimp

Without a doubt, the best way to thaw frozen shrimp is to let them rest in the refrigerator overnight. Put it in a container, right in the bag, to catch any excess moisture.

If you don't have time to let your shrimp thaw overnight, you can quickly thaw them in cold running water. Just add the shrimp to a large bowl filled with cold water. Let the water continue to run slowly into the container. After 10-15 minutes, the shrimp will be completely thawed. Drain them in a colander and dry them.

Shrimp cocktail recipe ideas

As much as I love the classic version of this dish, sometimes I like to mix things up and try new things. These are some of my favorite twists on the classic shrimp cocktail recipe.

  • Swap the sauce: Although the shrimp cocktail is classically paired with the cocktail sauce, don't be afraid to mix things up or provide more than one option. Some of my favorites include pesto, romesco (that's what appears in the picture), a spicy green sauce made with serrano peppers, a little garlic aioli, or a healthy yogurt sauce.
  • Make it spicy: Add a little heat to your shrimp by sprinkling with red pepper flakes before roasting. If you are hunting your shrimp, serve them with a hot sauce.
  • Make it Mexican: The Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is a spicy tomato-based dish with lots of flavor. To make, mix the cooked shrimp with chopped cucumbers, avocados, red onion, coriander, jalapeƱos, and tomatoes. Then add a little V8 juice, lime juice, and hot sauce if desired. For a thicker sauce, use tomato sauce instead of V8.
  • Try Old Bay: One of my favorite ways to add flavor to shrimp is to add it to Old Bay seasonings before grilling. You can also add a healthy dose of Old Bay to the poaching fluid.
  • Try different poaching fluids – Another way to infuse flavor is through poaching fluid. Instead of water, consider poaching your shrimp in beer, white wine, or even a combination of water and citrus juice.

How many calories are in a shrimp cocktail?

Generally speaking, there are about 20 calories in a large shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce. If you leave the sauce, each shrimp has about 10 calories.

Easy shrimp cocktail (roasted or poached)

PREPARATION TIME: 5 minutes COOKING TIME: 10 minutes TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes


  • 2 pounds shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 u lemon

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Roast: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the shrimp with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add any other seasoning you want. Lie down on a baking sheet. Roast for 8-10 minutes until pink and cooked through. Let cool and serve at room temperature or cold. Serve with fresh lemon.


Poached: Fill a large pot with water. Add 1 lemon cut in half, 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 onion, 1-2 bay leaves, some peppercorns, and any other seasonings you want. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes until pink and well cooked. They will begin to curl slightly. Remove and add to an ice bath (a bowl filled with water and ice). Once it is completely cold, in about 5 minutes, drain the shrimp and serve.

Roast ShrimpCocktailPoachedEasy

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