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Chef John's Shrimp Cocktail

Rated as 4.96 out of 5 Stars

"Before I knew much about food or dining out, I knew that if they brought shrimp cocktails to the table as an appetizer, we were eating at a 'fancy' restaurant. I'm sure I enjoyed the shrimp, but what I really loved was dipping the crackers in the spicy, horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce."
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50 m servings 306
Original recipe yields 4 servings


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  1. Stir water, onion, lemon, garlic, tarragon, seafood seasoning, peppercorns, and bay leaf together in a large pot; bring to a simmer and cook until flavors blend, about 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk ketchup, chili sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and salt together in a bowl; refrigerate until chilled, at least 15 minutes.
  3. Bring poaching liquid to a rapid boil. Cook the shrimp in the boiling liquid until they are bright pink on the outside and the meat is no longer transparent in the center, about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl of ice water and immerse in ice water until cold; drain. Arrange cold shrimp on a platter and serve with chilled sauce.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 306 calories; 4.3 18.9 47.7 345 1415 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 79
  1. 104 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

This was a fantastic way to season up shrimp. I've never done this before and now I will always season like this. Perfect flavor and the recipe was right on.

Most helpful critical review

I wasn’t impressed by all the work it took boiling the shrimp as it didn’t seem to change the flavor at all. I loved the cocktail sauce although I would not put as much horseradish next time.

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Least positive

This was a fantastic way to season up shrimp. I've never done this before and now I will always season like this. Perfect flavor and the recipe was right on.

This is exactly like you would expect from a high end seafood restaurant. I know, I worked in one for many years and this is EXACTLY like we would serve our customers! The cocktail sauce is s...

Thank you so much! Only way I will prepare shrimp cocktail from now on! Only change I made was adding a little dried tarragon instead of fresh. I didn't have fresh. The shrimp were cooked per...

I made it exactly as directed to see if it was worth the "trouble." When cooking the shrimp, make it easy on yourself. 5 minutes is perfect and don't measure anything. That's what I did. I also ...

This was awesome. I made one change and used beer instead of water. I have always cooked my shrimp in beer and old bay but the added spices really elevated the taste.

I've always bought shrimp chilled and cooked. Never again! I made these for Thanksgiving appetizers and guests raved over them. Lot's of "these are the best shrimp I've ever eaten!" I bought f...

This IS the best way to prep shrimp fpr simple shrimp coctail. Whole family loved it. Even my dauaghter-in-law said it was the best she ever had!!

This was fantastic! I have made shrimp cocktail a few times but it was missing "something". This recipe hit the nail on the head for us and was most like what you order in a restaurant. Only c...

Made these for Christmas Eve. Forgot to rate. The boiling broth makes this a HUGE success. Bravo Chef John. Happy to know the secret to fresh and tasty shrimp cocktail.