Easy Shrimp Cocktail

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Impress guests with this shrimp cocktail recipe! It’s such a healthy appetizer and so easy to whip up. Just poach the shrimp, chill and serve.

Shrimp cocktail is a classic dish found at just about everrrryyyy holiday party. It’s a staple and honestly such a perfect holiday appetizer that looks fancy, but is so simple to make and healthy too. A serving of 4 shrimp has less than 100 calories and 11 grams of protein.

I’ve had shrimp cocktail too many times to count, but I hadn’t ever made it myself until recently! Today I want to focus on teaching you how to poach raw shrimp so it’s flavorful and the perfect compliment to cocktail sauce.

Plate with shrimp cocktail garnished with parsley and lemon.

I know some people buy precooked shrimp for shrimp cocktail, but I’m here to convince you to make your own because the end result is exponentially better! Promise.

If you’ve ever been weirded out by the texture or flavor of precooked shrimp, I feel you! It’s officially time to buy raw shrimp and cook your own.

Shrimp Cocktail Ingredients

The star ingredients here are the shrimp and the cocktail sauce, but don’t skip the seasonings because they add such a great flavor to the poached shrimp.

Shrimp, parsley, bay leaves and peppercorn measured and on a metal sheet.
  • raw shrimp – I like to buy already peeled and deveined shrimp to make things faster, but you can do this yourself is desired. I usually pick the shrimp up from the seafood counter or a local seafood shop. If needed, the shrimp can be previously frozen.
  • lemons
  • fresh parsley
  • black peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • cocktail sauce – You can make your own or use store-bought. I really like the Primal Kitchen cocktail sauce. It has no added sugar and a really great flavor!
Hand Holding a jar of no sugar cocktail sauce.

If you want to make your own healthy cocktail sauce just combine

Plate with shrimp cocktail garnished with parsley and lemon.

How to Poach Shrimp

Make ice bath – Start by adding ice to a large bowl and add water to cover. This will be used to stop the shrimp from cooking.

Boil water – Add water, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorn and juice from one lemon to a large pot. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes on it’s own. Turn off heat and add the raw shrimp to pot.

Poach shrimp – Let the shrimp sit in hot water for 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from the pot with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander and transfer to the prepared ice bath. Let shrimp sit in ice bath for 5-10 minutes before draining. Discard seasonings. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel and chill until ready to serve.

Bowl with cooked shrimp in an ice bath to stop cooking.

How to Serve Shrimp Cocktail

I personally like to arrange everything on a platter as shown in the pictures! Put the cocktail sauce in a small bowl and set that on the plate or platter first. Then arrange the cooked and chilled shrimp around it. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parsley for color.

Can You Prep in Advance?

Yes! You can poach the shrimp one day in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Poached shrimp on a plate with cocktail sauce and garnished with lemon and parsley.

Watch my story showing how to make shrimp cocktail here.

More Healthy Appetizers to Try

Looking For More Shrimp Recipes?

Be sure to check out the full collection of shrimp recipes as well as appetizer recipes here on EBF!

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐ star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below.

5 from 2 votes

Shrimp Cocktail

Impress guests with this shrimp cocktail recipe! It’s such a healthy appetizer and so easy to whip up. Just poach the shrimp, chill and serve.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients  

  • 8 cups ice + water
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) water
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, divided
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup cocktail sauce*

Instructions 

  • Make ice bath
    : Add ice to a large bowl and add water to cover, set aside.
  • Boil water
    : Add water, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorn, juice from one lemon. Bring to a boil, let boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and add shrimp to pot.
  • Poach shrimp: Let shrimp sit in hot water for 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from the pot with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander and transfer to the prepared ice bath. Let shrimp sit in ice bath for 5-10 minutes before draining. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel and chill until ready to serve.
  • Plate and serve: Serve shrimp with cocktail sauce, lemon wedges and fresh parsley for garnish.

Notes

  • To make your own cocktail sauce just combine
  • Shrimp can be poached up to 1 day in advance. Keep shrimp chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 73kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 606mg | Fiber: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: shrimp cocktail
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

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