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Plate of the old school classic-shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce



This old school classic is so delicious and yet so easy, you won’t order a shrimp cocktail in a restaurant or buy a grocery store ring any longer.  And, making your own cocktail sauce makes this dish extra special.



For the shrimp:

¼ cup Kosher salt

¼ cup sugar

2 lemons, cut into quarters

1 onion, quartered

1 head of garlic, cut ¼-inch off of the top

1 bunch parsley

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 pound large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail left on (16-20 count)

For the cocktail sauce

1 cup chili sauce (I like Heinz)

¾ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Few dashes of hot sauce (I like Frank’s)

¼ teaspoon celery salt


Make the shrimp.

Combine the salt, sugar, and 7 cups of water in a large Dutch oven.  Squeeze the lemon quarters into the pot and toss in the lemons quarters, onion, garlic, parsley, and peppercorns.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Let boil for 10 minutes to extract the flavors from the onion, lemon, and parsley.  Turn off the heat.

Add the shrimp and allow to cook just until they turn opaque – about 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice.

Drain the Dutch oven into a colander.  Dump the hot shrimp into the bowl of ice and toss to coat.

Allow the shrimp to cool for at least 10-15 minutes.

Drain the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least 1 hour.

Make the cocktail sauce.

In a medium bowl, mix together the chili sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, horseradish, pepper,  hot sauce, and celery salt until well combined.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Serve the shrimp arranged on a plate with the sauce on the side.  Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs, if desired.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Starters - Appetizers
  • Method: Poach
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: old school classic, shrimp recipes, appetizer recipes, easy recipes, cocktail hour, happy hour