My favorite easy Shrimp Cocktail sauce recipe only requires three ingredients and a few seconds to make. You’ll never reach for store-bought cocktail sauce again!

Want more shrimp recipes? Try Shrimp and Grits, Kung Pao Shrimp, Shrimp Alfredo, or Shrimp Tacos!

A platter of shrimp and a bowl in the middle for an easy Shrimp Cocktail sauce and one shrimp on top of the sauce.

Why I love this recipe:

  • Easy and Elegant – If I want a fancy holiday appetizer in seconds, I always turn to shrimp cocktail. All you need is ketchup, horseradish and lemon juice to make homemade cocktail sauce.
  • Delicious – Shrimp is expensive and deserves a sauce of equal quality. The flavor of this homemade cocktail sauce compliments the shrimp perfectly and is better than any of those pre-made options.

How to Make Shrimp Cocktail:

Combine: Add ketchup, lemon juice, and prepared horseradish to a bowl then mix well to combine. Taste and adjust to your preference (more horseradish if you want more of “punch” and more ketchup if you prefer milder.

A cocktail sauce in a small bowl made with ketchup, lemon juice, and horseradish.

Serve: Refrigerate shrimp cocktail sauce for at least an hour then serve cold, with cooked shrimp. Arrange on a platter and watch it disappear!

An easy Shrimp Cocktail recipe with a homemade sauce in a bowl on a platter surrounded by cooked shrimp, lemon slices, and sprigs of parsley.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions:

To Make Ahead: Shrimp cocktail sauce can be made several days in advance. Cover it tightly and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

To Store: Shrimp cocktail should be kept covered and in the refrigerator when not enjoying.

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A platter of shrimp and a bowl in the middle for an easy Shrimp Cocktail sauce and one shrimp on top of the sauce.
Prep 5 minutes
Total 5 minutes
Save Recipe



  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well to combine. 
  • Taste and adjust to your preference (more horseradish if you want it spicier and more ketchup if you want it mellower). 
  • The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days in advance.  Serve cold with shrimp.


Shrimp: There are about 16-20 large shrimp in one pound, and I recommend buying about 1 ½ lbs. You can double the recipe to serve a larger crowd. Choose large, tail-on, frozen shrimp. Large shrimp fill the space in the platter beautifully, and tail-on are more flavorful and easy for guests to grab and eat. I prefer frozen, pre-cooked shrimp for ease in preparation (as long as it’s high quality). Shrimp sold at inland grocery seafood counters was likely shipped frozen, and thawed for display
Make Ahead Instructions: Shrimp cocktail sauce can be made up to one week in advance.  Cover it tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
Storage Instructions: Keep leftover shrimp and sauce in the fridge.


Calories: 41kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 0.4gFat: 0.05gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.02gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 366mgPotassium: 115mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 205IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.1mg

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*I originally shared this recipe December 2015. Updated October 2019 and December 2023.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

4.96 from 200 votes (192 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    Lauren Thank You. I’m on the other side of the world and we Americans were craving the good old shrimp cocktail with the authentic cocktail sauce. You saved us. It’s just scrumptious.

    How long do you think we can keep this in the fridge? Freezer?

    Happy New Year!

  2. Lauren, I think I’ll keep using mine. Much better and everyone loves it.
    1 Cup Heinz Chili Sauce
    Generous squeeze of lemon juice
    1 generous tsp hot horseradish (or more)
    Mix; refrigerate and enjoy!

  3. 4 stars
    I used 3/4 C ketchup with two heaping top of prepared horseradish, 1 tsp lemon juice and added 1/2 tsp old bay seasoning. Personally more flavorful and less ketchup taste. The ads popping up on your site made it difficult to write this comment, btw

  4. Several recipes call for ketchup as the base! My recipe which I developed from tending bar in a high end dining place years ago: one bottle of chili sauce combined with equal amount of ketchup! That’s the old school base! Everything else can be used for taste! I made my bloody Marys with horseradish, olive and lime juice! Other ingredients are my secret but easy to figure out! PS…. Use canned tomato juice not the pre made stuff!

  5. 5 stars
    I grew up in the Ozarks, We made this sauce for our fish fry’s. We just squirted ketchup in a bowl, and added horseradish. Lemon is a nice addition. Nothing else is needed!

  6. I am visually impaired. I made this with a hint of salt n pepper. My guest asked where I got it at. All I did was smile. If I can make, you can.

  7. Came out very good, I didn’t have any horseradish because I can’t stand the smell or taste. I substituted for mustard instead and added a few other things to flavor. Plenty of hot sauce to bring some heat. I usually doctor a bottle of cocktail sauce for my fried shrimp and oysters but I like making it from scratch now thank you for sharing the recipe

  8. This is almost the same as my recipe. The only difference is I mince celery very finely and add to the cocktail sauce when I’m making it. Don’t know if it will keep any longer than a few hours or maybe a day in the refrigerator because it is always eaten before it has a chance to spoil. The celery seems to stay crisp too. I just love the crunch of the celery! And I also add a very, very generous amount of fresh lemon juice – maybe as much as 1 or 2 tablespoonsful-I like lemon too. Oh, I just thought I might try adding some lemon zest the next time we have this (don’t know why I never considered this before).

  9. I like chili sauce rather than ketchup, so if you google a chili sauce recipe from scratch you’ll likely find what you seek. As far as horseradish, it’s so strong that buying a bottle of it (unless you make your own homemade mayonnaise from scratch) can be wasteful.

    Happy seasoning!

    1. Ketchup is the main base of this recipe–I can’t speak to any other substitute that wouldn’t significantly change the flavor.

    2. 5 stars
      HI, Could you make your own Ketchup from a recipe on line? Once you have that, try taking Horseradish roots and grinding them up for a paste with a little Sslt and Vinegar and you will be surprised of the great flavors you have just created. Don’t forget the lemon in the horseradish sauce you just made and I used old Bay for seasoning 1/3 teaspon, More horseradish like 1/6th of the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce (1 tablespoon) and a little heat such as sriracha or red hots. The old bay really is needed for the shrimp. 🙂 Enjoy

  10. Hi there! I’m super excited to try your slow cooker cranberry meatball recipe, and I am planning to make the cocktail sauce following the recipe above. I just have one question: In step three, is there a typo and you really meant “Refrigerate four days”, or do you simply mean that the sauce keeps well in the fridge and can be made ahead of time without issue? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Darlene, thanks for pointing out that confusion. You are right, I meant it will keep well in the fridge and can be made ahead of time. Hope you enjoy the meatballs!