Halloween Shrimp Cocktail Brain


Realistic, creepy, AND yummy. Make it the day before your Halloween party so it has time to set. Serve with assorted crackers, baguette slices, cucumber slices, and celery sticks.

top-down view of a disgustingly realistic-looking brain in tomato sauce surrounded by bread for dipping
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
5 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
8 hrs 25 mins
1 large mold


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin

  • ½ cup cold water

  • 1 ½ ounces Asian bean thread vermicelli noodles

  • 4 cups boiling water, or as needed

  • 1 (8 ounce) jar cocktail sauce

  • 2 pounds cooked shrimp - peeled, tails removed, and shrimp chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped, or more to taste

  • ½ (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, chopped, or more to taste

  • 1 brain-shaped gelatin mold

  • 1 (8 ounce) jar cocktail sauce


  1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water in a bowl and set aside to soften. Place bean thread noodles in heatproof bowl and top with 4 cups boiling water or amount needed to cover. Allow noodles to soften for 5 minutes.

  2. Pour 1 jar cocktail sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in softened gelatin; cook, stirring frequently, until completely melted. Remove pan from heat.

  3. Combine shrimp, celery, and water chestnuts in a large bowl. Drain noodles and shake off excess water; add to bowl. Add warmed gelatin mixture and stir until well combined.

  4. Lightly grease gelatin mold. Press mixture firmly into mold, making sure all gaps are filled. Cover filled mold with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

  5. Invert mold onto a serving platter (see Cook's Notes). Drizzle cocktail sauce around the edges to create pool of "blood."

Cook's Notes:

This should unmold easily when inverted and smacked down firmly on a flat surface such as a cutting board. If not, try immersing bottom portion of the mold in warm water for a few seconds, then try again. If you want the texture of your brain to be more smooth, like pate, use your food processor instead of a knife when preparing your shrimp mixture. Add the vermicelli AFTER the other ingredients have been pulverized to perfection.

I buy bean thread vermicelli from Asian markets, where they come in a packet of 6 or 8 sections. Use one section of noodles for this recipe.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

77 Calories
1g Fat
7g Carbs
10g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 20
Calories 77
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 89mg 30%
Sodium 378mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 3mg 16%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 95mg 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.