classic cocktail sauce

A great shrimp cocktail sauce makes shrimp cocktail. Pure and simple. And it’s so easy to make your own at home. Fresh. Brimming with flavour. Delicious.

There really is nothing to making shrimp cocktail sauce. Mix up a few ingredients. Let stand for few minutes. Good to go.

So I really don’t understand why people buy it. The jarred stuff is a little dull. Lifeless. It’s been sitting on a shelf for months. Shrimp is not cheap. Why would you waste it using mediocre shrimp cocktail sauce.

Three key ingredients for great shrimp cocktail sauce

Shrimp cocktail sauce is mostly ketchup. And that’s actually not a bad thing. It works well in here. Something about its sweet tang just tastes right.

It’s what you do with the ketchup that matters. The other ingredients. And there’s no magic here. Three simple additions to ketchup make it great cocktail sauce. cost people have ketchup n the refrigerator.

Horseradish – when it’s fresh, jarred horseradish has bite. Sinus clearing bite. A little goes a long way. But it makes the sauce. That’s the taste you are looking for here. But it starts to fade the day you open the jar. So buy a fresh bottle. It matters.

Pure chili powder  – Pure chili powder is not the stuff they sell at supermarkets labeled “chili powder” or “chili mix”. It’s the ground version of a real dried chili. Look for New Mexican red or ancho. It brings a bit of complexity to the sauce.

Fresh lemon juice – Don’t use stuff from a bottle. Fresh lemons are pretty easy to come by. There’s really no excuse for using that pre-fab stuff. It’s not the same. You want the fresh, bright acidity only the real thing delivers.

That’s it. A little salt and pepper and it’s done. Easy. And so much better. Try this – you’ll never use bottled cocktail sauce again. Serve it with foolproof shrimp cocktail. You’ll be glad you did.


Three critical ingredients come together to make a really good cocktail sauce. Horseradish, pure chile powder and fresh lemon juice. Don't use supermarket chili powder - it's a mix of random ingredients.
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4 from 4 votes

classic cocktail sauce

Making classic cocktail sauce is super easy. And it's better than anything you can buy. Just like they serve at those fancy steak houses.
Course side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1 cup


  • 1 cup good tomato ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp prepared horseradish - get a new bottle. That old bottle in the back of the fridge will kill this recipe...
  • 1 tsp pure chili powder - e.g New Mexican Red or Ancho
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice or more to taste


  • Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Fresh prepared horseradish makes all the difference in this cocktail sauce. It's worth buying a new jar if the one at hand has been in the refrigerator for a while.


4 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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