Summer Shrimp Cocktail

by Lana Stuart on June 30, 2010 · 33 comments

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 one 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.


–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.
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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lindaraxa June 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

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.


2 Lana June 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

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


3 Megan June 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

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!


4 Drick June 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

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


5 Cristina June 30, 2010 at 11:58 am

A beautiful shrimp cocktail with the yellow and red tomatoes and everything is better with cilantro. A great summert-time treat!


6 sensiblecooking June 30, 2010 at 3:04 pm

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!!!!!!


7 sippitysup June 30, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Fantastic. I know the jalapeno is just the right kick too. GREG


8 Lana June 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

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!


9 Cookie June 30, 2010 at 5:25 pm

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!


10 bcgw June 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Wow! That looks so amazingly fresh and I love spicy flavor with a cold food… such a great combo and a beautiful dish ;]


11 Wenderly July 1, 2010 at 10:12 am

Yummy! I can taste it through my screen. But I’d rather taste it on my tongue! And I’ll see to it that I do! Thanks for sharing!


12 Liren July 2, 2010 at 1:44 am

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!).


13 Karen July 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm

This looks and sounds SO good! A shrimp cocktail might just be on our 4th of July weekend menu :)


14 Lena July 2, 2010 at 11:52 pm

looks so refreshing… thanks for sharing ;-)


15 Melissa @ For the Love of Health July 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I love the look of your blog!!
Your photo is amazing and now I have a craving for shrimp!
check out my blog for my giveaway!


16 Barbara @moderncomfortfood July 6, 2010 at 2:15 pm

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.


17 Amy (Sing For Your Supper) July 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Oh GOLLY this looks good! Definitely not your run-of-the-mill shrimp cocktail! Yum, yum!!


18 Kevin (Closet Cooking) July 12, 2010 at 5:58 pm

That is some tasty looking shrimp!


19 foodlvr August 27, 2010 at 11:35 am

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.


20 Gracy toy schultz September 19, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Great now I’m hungry. Lol


21 Cookin' Canuck June 6, 2011 at 9:55 pm

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).


22 marla June 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm

This updated shrimp cocktail looks amazing! Thanks for including the link in Get Grillin’!


23 Chris June 8, 2011 at 8:43 am

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. :)


24 Rachael March 17, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Found this post through Pinterest and made th


25 Rachael March 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

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!!


26 Jeri August 6, 2014 at 10:18 am

Can I use frozen shrimp? Thawed, of course!


27 Lana Stuart August 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

Yes, frozen shrimp would be fine.


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