Calling this The BEST Shrimp Cocktail is almost an understatement. You may have noticed that there are very few recipes on my site that I have labeled “the best.” This shrimp cocktail has earned that title. This is beyond a doubt the best shrimp cocktail I have ever tasted. The sauce is incredibly flavorful with a perfect balance of spicy tangy heat.
I have made this recipe twice now. I initially tested a halved recipe for a lunch with just my kids and I and we inhaled everything! (in a matter of minutes!) Because we didn’t leave a single shrimp for the other adult in the house to taste, I felt obligated to make it again. Just to make sure it was as awesome as I remembered. And yes, it was every bit as awesome the second time.
I’ve made this with medium size shrimp and jumbo shrimp. I preferred the jumbo ones, but the smaller ones tasted every bit as amazing. In the future when I make this, I’ll likely buy whichever is on sale at the time. I’ve also boiled the shrimp with and without their shells and tails. Whichever method you prefer will work fine. There is no difference in the taste.
* The shrimp and the cocktail sauce may be made up to 24 hours in advance. If deveined shrimp aren’t available, simply shell the shrimp (leaving the tail intact) and cut through the top of the shrimp along the vein line and remove and discard the vein.
- Shrimp Ingredients:
- 2 pounds deveined (shells removed and tails left on) jumbo shrimp (16-20 per pound)
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
- 2 lemons juiced, peels reserved and roughly chopped (you will only need 1/4 cup of this juice, save the rest in the refrigerator for another use)
- 8 cups ice
- Cocktail Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a large pot, combine the shrimp, 4 cups cold water, salt, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves and celery seeds. Cook this mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the water registers 170 degrees and the shrimp are just barely beginning to turn pink, about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, along with all of the lemon peels. Cover the pot and let the shrimp mixture rest until the shrimp are completely pink and firm, about 5-7 minutes. While the shrimp finishes cooking, set aside 8 cups of ice next to the pot. When the shrimp are bright pink, stir the ice into the pot and let the shrimp cool completely, about 5 minutes. Remove the cool shrimp from the pot and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Whisk together the cocktail sauce ingredients and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!