Recipes Appetizers Basics Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6

Like the basic black dress, this classic dish is always in style at cocktail parties. You can cook the shrimp in advance; let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 lb. large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. prepared or fresh horseradish
  • Lemon wedges for serving


Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into a pot filled with water, then add the lemon halves, onion, salt, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the shrimp and cook until they are opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and let cool.

When the shrimp are cool, peel them but leave the tail segments intact. Using the tip of a sharp knife or a shrimp deveiner, remove the dark vein running along the outside of the shrimp. Put crushed ice on a large rimmed platter and pile the cooked shrimp on top.

In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup and horseradish until combined. Serve the shrimp with the cocktail sauce and lemon wedges on the side. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking for Friends, by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm (Oxmoor House, 2008).