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5 from 1 vote

Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Try this classic, easy, make ahead appetizer for your next dinner party. Recipe is easily doubled or tripled as needed.
Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4 Appetizers
Author: Tricia


For the steamed shrimp:

  • 20 shell-on jumbo shrimp (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

For the cocktail sauce:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

For serving:

  • Lemons slices and parsley for serving
  • Lettuce leaves for serving if desired


To prep the shrimp:

  • It’s personal preference but I like to remove the dark vein, or intestinal track from larger shrimp. With kitchen shears cut through the meat and top shell along the back of the shrimp to expose the vein. Use a toothpick to pull the vein up, then remove and discard. Watch the video linked in the NOTES for a how-to technique. Leave the shells and tail on.

To steam the shrimp:

  • If you don’t have a steamer pan, use a large mesh strainer set over a pot with a lid.
  • Set a large bowl in the sink filled with cold water and ice. The cooked shrimp will be added to the ice water bath to stop the cooking process and quickly chill the cooked shrimp.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place half the shrimp in the steamer basket or strainer. Sprinkle shrimp with 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning and toss to coat. Place the shrimp over the boiling water, put the lid on the pot and steam the shrimp for 3 - 4 minutes. Toss the shrimp halfway through to move them around. The shrimp are done when slightly curled, pink and firm. Don’t overcook or you will have rubbery shrimp. Add the cooked shrimp to the ice water bath. Repeat by tossing the remaining uncooked shrimp with Old Bay and steaming until firm and pink. Add the shrimp to the ice water and allow to cool.
  • Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the cocktail sauce:

  • Combine the ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice. Stir well, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • To serve on appetizer plates, line the plate with a small lettuce leaf. Arrange 5 shrimp over the lettuce. Add a small cup of Cocktail sauce for dipping and lemon wedges for drizzling.


Click HERE to watch a VIDEO by The Spruce for an easy tutorial on how to devein shrimp. 
Cooked shrimp will keep well for several days if properly refrigerated.