Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Ready in minutes with simple pantry staples, our homemade shrimp cocktail sauce is a tangy, creamy blend of mayonnaise and ketchup that perfectly complements succulent shrimp, other seafood and appetisers. We guarantee you will be making this over and over again.

A small bowl of shrimp cocktail sauce next to a bowl of shrimp cocktail

Why You’ll Love Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Once you try our shrimp cocktail sauce, its savoury, tangy, and slightly spicy flavour will keep you coming back for more, making it a staple in your kitchen.

What I adore about shrimp cocktail sauce is that it is made with common pantry staples. This makes it so easy and convenient to whip up without needing special or hard-to-find ingredients. Plus, it comes together in just a few minutes, requiring minimal preparation time and effort. 

It is one of my favourite sauces to make. It pairs wonderfully with shrimp and complements other seafood like crab, lobster, and fish, making it a versatile addition to your seafood repertoire.

For lazy summer family dinners, I often buy cooked shrimp and whisk a bowl of homemade shrimp cocktail sauce for dipping. I then chop up a 10-minute chickpea salad and serve it with warm, crusty bread and a jug of icy cold juice.

No cooking involved, and a delicious family dinner is served. How good is that?

Is Shrimp Cocktail Sauce The Same As Thousand Island Dressing?

Also known as Marie Rose sauce, classic shrimp cocktail sauce uses mayonnaise and tomato ketchup as a base. This is the same for the Thousand Island dressing. However, the similarities pretty much end there.

Thousand Island dressing often includes chopped gherkins, pickle relish, and diced onion. Its consistency is more chunky than that of a shrimp cocktail sauce, which is generally more spicy than Thousand Island dressing, as it includes Tabasco and cayenne pepper. 

What Can I Use Shrimp Cocktail Sauce With?

Shrimp cocktail sauce is incredibly versatile and pairs well with a variety of foods, not just shrimp and prawns. I often serve this classic cocktail sauce with fried fish, crab cakes, spring rolls, lobster rolls, fish tacos, sandwiches, seared scallops, deviled eggs and fried calamari. 

This recipe would also work well as an alternative salad dressing for coleslaw, shrimp macaroni salad or dipping sauce for parsnip fries


These are the ingredients you need for shrimp cocktail sauce:

Individually labelled ingredients for shrimp cocktail sauce
  • Mayonnaise: This creamy base provides a rich and smooth texture to the shrimp cocktail sauce, balancing the tanginess of other ingredients. Be sure to use good quality mayonnaise.
  • Tomato ketchup: Adding sweetness and a hint of acidity, ketchup enhances the flavour profile and gives the sauce its classic coral hue.
  • Worcestershire sauce: This is a pantry staple for us. We use it in several recipes, like our creamy garlic dressing and Catalina dressing. This popular condiment adds a unique savoury, umami, tangy flavour to the sauce.
  • Tabasco sauce: This fiery sauce is fantastic for adding heat to any dish. Only a few drops of hot sauce will bring a spicy kick, and you can adjust the heat level to your preference. 
  • Cayenne pepper: This spice adds a subtle heat and a touch of smokiness, rounding out the flavour with a hint of warmth.

Variations and Substitutions

I prefer the classic shrimp cocktail sauce without variations, but you can add other spices and condiments to create your own version.

Citrus: Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon or lime juice to the sauce for a zesty, tangy flavour that complements the seafood.

Sriracha: If you don’t have Tabasco sauce on hand, you can substitute it with Sriracha sauce for a spicy kick. 

Horseradish: Mix in a tablespoon of prepared horseradish for an extra sharp and spicy bite, adding a bold contrast to the sweet ketchup.

Herbs: For a fresh, aromatic twist, incorporate a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh herbs like dill, parsley, or chives.

Garlic and shallots: Add a minced garlic clove or finely chopped shallots for a pungent variation that enhances the sauce’s depth.

Paprika: Include a teaspoon of smoked paprika for a rich, smoky undertone that adds complexity to the sauce.


Step by step instructions for how to make shrimp cocktail sauce:

Place mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and cayenne pepper in a small mixing bowl.

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce ingredients in a stainless steel bowl with a spoon
Adding tabasco sauce to a stainless steel bowl of shrimp cocktail sauce in a stainless steel bowl
Adding cayenne pepper to a stainless steel bowl of shrimp cocktail sauce in a stainless steel bowl

Whisk until well combined. 

A spoonful of Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

How To Make This Dressing Perfectly [Expert Tips]

Quality condiments: Be sure to use a quality mayonnaise and ketchup as they will make a noticeable difference in flavour. I like using whole egg mayonnaise for this recipe but you can also use traditional mayonnaise. 

Consistency: You can adjust the consistency depending on how you are serving the shrimp cocktail sauce. As a dipping sauce, I would prefer it to be a little thicker so it doesn’t drip from the shrimp or seafood. For salad dressings, I prefer slightly thinner. Add more mayonnaise for a thicker consistency or add a little lemon juice to thin it out.

How to Store

Keep shrimp cocktail sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator immediately after preparing. Shrimp cocktail sauce should always be kept cold to prevent spoilage. It can last up to a week in the refrigerator. 

Before using the stored sauce, give it a good stir to recombine any separated ingredients and restore its consistency.

Best Salad for This Salad Dressing

Prawn Cocktail with Marie Rose Sauce

Classic Prawn Cocktail recipe mingled with a deliciously addictive cocktail sauce. Our version captures the timeless flavours but styled for today’s crowd. Time to bring this baby back!

4 Prawn Cocktail with Marie Rose Sauce on a bed of lettuce

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make shrimp cocktail sauce in advance?

Yes, you can make shrimp cocktail sauce up to 2-3 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

Can I freeze shrimp cocktail sauce?

I would not recommend freezing shrimp cocktail sauce as the texture will not be the same. It is best to make it fresh and use it within the week.

What can I use if I don’t have Worcestershire sauce?

If you don’t have Worcestershire sauce, you can substitute it with soy sauce, but use a bit less since soy sauce is saltier. Alternatively, a mixture of soy sauce and a splash of vinegar can mimic the flavour.

Is shrimp cocktail sauce vegan?

No, shrimp cocktail sauce is not vegan as it contains eggs in mayonnaise and anchovies in Worcestershire sauce. 

A small bowl of shrimp cocktail sauce next to a bowl of shrimp cocktail

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A small bowl with a black teaspoon of shrimp cocktail sauce next to a bowl and 2 glasses of shrimp cocktail
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5 from 5 votes

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Ready in minutes with simple pantry staples, our homemade shrimp cocktail sauce is a tangy, creamy blend of mayonnaise and ketchup that perfectly complements succulent shrimp, other seafood and appetisers. We guarantee you will be making this over and over again.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Salad Dressing
Cuisine: International
Suitable for Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose
Additional Dietary: Nut Free
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 52kcal
Author: Sammy Eng


Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.


  • Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  • Whisk until well combined.


  • Use quality mayonnaise and tomato ketchup for the best results.
  • Substitute Tabasco sauce with Sriracha sauce if not available. Adjust according to taste.
  • Chill shrimp cocktail sauce before serving. 
  • Create your own twist with other ingredients such as lemon/lime juice, horseradish cream, chopped herbs, shallots, garlic or paprika.  
  • For a vegan cocktail sauce, omit Worcestershire sauce and substitute it with your favourite vegan mayo.


Calories: 52kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 0.04g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.2mg

*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.

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