Summer Shrimp Cocktail

What do you think of when you hear the words “shrimp cocktail?”  You don’t even need to think about it, do you? I don’t. Those words instantly transport me back in time to the 1970’s and almost every steak house’s appetizer menu. The shrimp cocktail was a classic, wasn’t it? It came to the table in a stemmed glass with seafood cocktail sauce in the bottom, six shrimp (always six) dangling over the edges of the glass and a wedge of lemon. Right?

I always wanted to order a shrimp cocktail before my steak dinner. After all, that was fancy stuff back then. That shrimp cocktail made you feel so grown up and cosmopolitan, didn’t it? And besides, it was really good. Too bad you don’t see it on menus much any more.

Well, I have a shrimp cocktail for you today, but it’s not your 1970’s version. Nope. This Summer Shrimp Cocktail is very much up-to-date and involves not a single dangling shrimp. This one contains bright, fresh flavors with just a hit of jalapeno to make it even more interesting. There’s even a handful of cilantro just for good measure.

1 lb. peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp
3 tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 tblsp. Italian style salad dressing

Shrimp Cooking for Shrimp Cocktail

Start by bringing a pot of well salted water to the boil. When the water is boiling, add the peeled and deveined shrimp, place the lid on the pot and remove it from heat.

That’s the way I always cook boiled shrimp. Just let them sit in the water without it continuing to boil. There’s nothing worse than an overcooked shrimp. Really. If they cook too long they get chewy and rubbery. Yuck. You always want your shrimp to be tender and just cooked through.

Set the shrimp aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

I had both red and yellow tomatoes on hand so that’s what I used. You can use just red or all yellow. Whatever makes you happy. Combine the chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, jalapeno, cilantro, ketchup and salad dressing.

Drain the shrimp well and stir them into the vegetable mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Overnight is even better. We still had some of this left after two days and it was just as good then as it was the day I made it. It keeps really well and is one of the first things to go on a buffet!

I served it with some sesame Melba toast this time. It’s also great with any assortment of crackers.


–Original recipe from Kraft Foods First Taste

Summer Shrimp Cocktail
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An updated southwestern version of the classic shrimp cocktail.
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tblsp. Italian style salad dressing
  1. Bring a pot of well salted water to the boil.
  2. Add shrimp to boiling water, place lid on pot and remove from heat. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  3. Combine chopped tomatoes, green onions, ketchup, cilantro, jalapeno and salad dressing.
  4. Drain the shrimp well and stir into the vegetable mixture.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Overnight is even better.
  6. Serve with Melba toast or assorted crackers.
All text and photographs on Never Enough Thyme are copyright protected. Please do not use any material from this site without obtaining prior permission. If you'd like to post this recipe on your site, please create your own original photographs and either re-write the recipe in your own words or link to this post.
Never miss a recipe!
Subscribe now to receive new posts by email.

Enter your email address below to get each new post via email. We promise we'll never send spam or give your email address to anyone else.


  1. says

    I was just thinking about that the other day for I am that generation who always ordered it before a steak! this looks yummy, though and I have just the bowl to serve it for cocktails.

    • says

      I still enjoy the classic, too, when I see it on restaurant menus. If you liked that one, you’ll really enjoy this version!

  2. says

    I remember back in the 70’s I use to go to John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Reno with my parents and mom ALWAYS ordered the shrimp cocktail. It was always so fancy and it did make me feel grown up when I had one.
    Your making me have a craving!
    Note to self, pick up shrimp!

  3. says

    oh, this reminds me of days of summer on the gulf in Florida spending the entire months as a child….really nice and refreshing recipe, momma would have liked this one too

  4. says

    Perfect summer appetizer. Even better I have cilantro and green onions growing in my garden. The color just makes me want it more. Orange color from shrimp, red tomato and green onion yummy!!!!!!

    • says

      The jalapeno gives you the heat you would get from the horseradish in the traditional recipe. It’s a very nice update on that classic!

  5. says

    I love ordering Shrimp Cocktail especially when it’s nice outside and we get to dine al fresco! I love your updated version and will definitely try it!

  6. says

    This is wonderful! My husband adores the classic shrimp cocktail, but I know he would love this one even better (I know for sure it would be my preference!).

  7. says

    Lana, you and I always seem to be on the same wavelength. We just had shrimp cocktail last night at my house – as a main course – and I wish I’d seen your recipe before making it. Your updated version of this classic shrimp sauce has a wonderful combination of flavors and is definitely on my must try list. Stumbled.

  8. foodlvr says

    This looks really updated in a great way – almost a shrimp salsa! Looks so good. I have to try this. Thanks for the inspiration. It does remind me of my childhood and those plain wonderful shrimp cocktails that came in fancy glassware.

  9. says

    What fantastic flavors in this shrimp cocktail, Lana! I’d love if you’d consider sharing this in the online Get Grillin’ & summer bbq event I am hosting (it’s appetizer week right now).

  10. says

    I am not sure if I have the right words…and if I could find them, they’d be interrupted by the mouthwatering reaction my mouth is having right now! I love this…and it will be made…soon. :)

  11. Rachael says

    Grr, bad iPhone. Made this as an appetizer served with triscuits. Delicious and I added chopped celery as well since I love the celery in original shrimp cocktail. Thanks for the idea!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>