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Shrimp Cocktail

Easy Shrimp Cocktail is a classic appetizer for parties and celebrations. Shrimp is quickly cooked in a delicious broth and served with homemade cocktail sauce.

Shrimp Cocktail with cocktail sauce

Shrimp Cocktail

Quick and easy appetizers are the best for holiday entertaining. Set up a delicious appetizer bar with this easy Shrimp Cocktail, Knorr Spinach Dip, Alabama Fire Crackers, Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts. Add a batch of this Grilled Honey Mustard Shrimp and these Steak and Shrimp Appetizers that can all be made ahead of the party. 

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Just take me to the recipe! If you are in a hurry and just looking for the recipe, you will find it by scrolling to the bottom. Otherwise read on for tips and step by step photos for making shrimp cocktail at home. 



How to Make Shrimp Cocktail:

Peeled shrimp in a bowl- raw

  • Peel and devein shrimp.

broth for cooking shrimp

  • Add water to a sauce pan and add the following:
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Bay Leaf
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Whole Peppercorns
  • Coarse Black Pepper
  • Bring mixture to a boil and remove from burner. 

cooking shrimp in broth

  • Add shrimp stirring until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Shrimp will curl and turn pink. They will no longer be translucent and gray when they are done. 

Cooked shrimp

  • Remove from pan and place in a bowl, set aside to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. You can make the shrimp up to 24 hours in advance. 
  • Discard broth.
  • If you are serving immediately, dunk shrimp in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes and drain well.

Shrimp cocktail

  • Serve shrimp with homemade Cocktail Sauce. 

This recipe will serve 4-6 people for an appetizer, double the recipe as needed. 

Tips for buying shrimp:

Do not buy precooked shrimp. I know it’s easy, but cooking shrimp is so simple. If you cook your shrimp it is guaranteed to be more flavorful and have a much better texture. 

I like to buy larger shrimp for shrimp cocktail, 16 to 20 count works great. Shell on or off is fine.

Peel and devein the shrimp before cooking. 

 I remove the tails when cleaning them so that party guests don’t have to deal with the mess. You can leave them on if you prefer to have them for the presentation. 

Shrimp Cocktail Appetizer in a glass bowl

How to Thaw Frozen Shrimp:

Keep shrimp frozen until ready to cook. Place shrimp in a colander and run cool water over shrimp until thawed. This should only take about 5-10 minutes. If you are thawing several pounds of shrimp, just stir occasionally.

Shrimp with cocktail sauce

Cocktail Sauce:

You will love this quick and easy recipe for homemade Cocktail Sauce. Ingredients include ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, granulated garlic and pepper. Easy to make with pantry ingredients. 

Easy Appetizers for Parties

Shrimp Cocktail can be made in about 20 minutes and makes a great appetizer or easy dinner for busy weeknights!

Tray with shrimp cocktail and sliced lemons



If you love this Recipe as much as I do, please leave a comment and a five star review, and be sure to help me share on Pinterest!

Shrimp Cocktail
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Shrimp Cocktail

Easy Shrimp Cocktail is a classic appetizer for parties and celebrations. Shrimp is quickly cooked in a delicious broth and served with homemade cocktail sauce. 
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to cook shrimp, Old Bay shrimp, shrimp, shrimp appetizer
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 193kcal
Author: Milisa



  • Add water and lemon juice to a saucepan.
  • Stir in Old Bay Seasoning, bay leaf, peppercorns and ground pepper.
  • Bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add shrimp.
  • Continually stir shrimp until they are cooked through, curled and pink. Shrimp will no longer be gray and translucent.
  • Remove shrimp from broth to a bowl. Cool slightly, cover and chill until ready to serve.
  • If serving immediately, place shrimp in ice water for about 5 minutes. Drain well.
  • Serve with Cocktail Sauce.


Shrimp can be made a day in advance and chilled until ready to serve.
Double recipe as needed.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 239mg | Sodium: 1723mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g








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