Skip to content

RECIPE: This seafood starter dish is great for any time of the year

Have you wanted to try making a shrimp cocktail? Here’s how to get it right

Bookmark article to read later

By Bon Appetit US | December 9, 2022 | Recipes

Great shrimp cocktail recipes are all about the little things. Namely, guidance on the right shrimp for the job, how to cook them perfectly, and how best to achieve the classic balanced but zingy sauce. This one from former BA staffer Molly Baz gets all of those details right. (Catch her making the recipe.) You’re looking for big, fat, just-cooked shrimp for this classic appetizer, so size and precision matter—the size will be printed on the bag of frozen shrimp at the grocery store, or ask your fishmonger about fresh, raw shrimp.

(Otherwise, follow these guidelines: For 26–30, poach 1½ minutes; for 21–25, poach 2 minutes; for 13–15, poach 4 minutes; for 8–12, poach 5 minutes.) No matter the size, cooking the shrimp with their shells on is key to keeping them tender. Also crucial: getting the poached shrimp into an ice water bath fast; dropping ice into the cooking liquid makes that simple.

Leave the tail on each shrimp to serve, scattering the otherwise peeled shrimp on ice, and garnish with lemon wedges.



¼ cup Diamond Crystal or 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Morton kosher salt

¼ cup sugar

2 lemons

450g. jumbo shell-on shrimp, deveined

Cocktail Sauce and Assembly

1 cup chili sauce

¾ tsp. finely grated lemon zest

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish

2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¾ tsp. hot sauce (preferably Tabasco)

Lemon wedges (for serving)



Scoop 8 cups ice into a large bowl; set aside. Combine salt, sugar, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan. Cut lemons in half, squeeze juice into pot, and toss in lemon halves. Bring liquid to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar, then remove pot from heat. Add shrimp and poach, uncovered, 3½ minutes.

Immediately add reserved ice to saucepan to rapidly chill the liquid and stop the cooking. Let shrimp sit in ice bath 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and peel. Pat dry again. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Do Ahead: Shrimp can be poached and peeled 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Cocktail Sauce and Assembly

Mix chili sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, horseradish, pepper, and hot sauce in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Serve shrimp on cracked ice with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce alongside.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Recipe by Molly Baz

This article originally appeared on Bon Appetit US

Related Tags

2022, Recipes