Shrimp Cocktail English style

Shrimp Cocktail


For our second anniversary, my husband took me to a very high end place that served many different types of shrimp/prawn recipes. The one that I remember the most was ‘Shrimp Cocktail’. It was fabulous, and the flavors stayed with me for all these years (I am quite good at recalling taste and texture of long ago eaten foods).


British style shrimp cocktail


In US, I tried Shrimp Cocktail many times, and while they were all quite nice, but nothing compared to what I had eaten back then. Being a novice to many kitchen ingredients those days, I had a very hard time figuring out what went into making that rich, creamy, amazingly flavorful sauce.

The only ingredient that I could figure out was Mayonnaise. I tried making the cocktail by using Mayo, sour cream, various herbs – but they all tasted different. Some tasted quite good, others were terrible.


Shrimp cocktail


My research continued, and after a lot of digging around, I found that shrimp cocktails made in US are quite different than those made in UK. French have an entirely different method of making this delectable dish. In US, sauce is used as a dip, in UK, the shrimps are tossed in the sauce, and French cook the shrimps in a wine broth and make a second sauce to toss the shrimps in.

One ingredient that jumped out at me from all the recipes that I researched was horseradish. I tried to streamline, and going by the memory of that sauce, I kept it simple. Jackpot!!! Finally, I had the recipe that had had me hooked all those years ago. This recipe is closest to the way Shrimp Cocktail is made in UK.


Shrimp cocktail



5.0 from 2 reviews
Shrimp Cocktail English style
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: British
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • ½ lbs shrimps
  • 6 cups of water.
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp light Mayonnaise (use very good quality)
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • dash of white pepper
  • a few sprigs of chives (optional)
  • handful of fresh spring lettuce
  • lemon slices for decoration
  1. Peel and devein the shrimp.
  2. Bring water to boil in a pan, and add salt.
  3. Cook the shrimps till translucent - about six minutes.
  4. Drain, and chill the shrimps. * See Note
  5. In a large bowl, mix Mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, white pepper and lemon juice till smooth.
  6. Toss the shrimps in the sauce.
  7. Refrigerate till ready to serve.
To serve:
  1. In a tall Martini glass, arrange spring lettuce at the bottom.
  2. Spoon in the shrimps carefully.
  3. Sprinkle chive leaves.
  4. Wedge a lemon slice on the side of the glass, and serve.
Note: You can use pre-cooked frozen shrimps. Thaw them in the fridge and run them through very cold water before mixing with the sauce.




16 comments for “Shrimp Cocktail English style

  1. April 15, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    I know what you mean about having something in a restaurant and you just HAVE to figure out how they did it. I’ve nearly blown the food budget on trying to decipher a few things. This looks delicious.
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted..My Path to Happiness Through Baking and BloggingMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Thanks Maureen!!

  2. April 15, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    What a good idea for an unniversary. We’ll have the 7th one soon, I should make it fancy and use your recipe 🙂
    Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today recently posted..Fried mozzarella with champignons on toastMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      These are truly delicious, finger licking delicious, I promise you 🙂

  3. April 15, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    This reminds me of all the dinners in England my friends and I had….at home or in restaurants. Prawn cocktail was always present! My memory of what we used to eat…the closest thing in the US is Thousand Island dressing mixed into the prawns, on lettuce or a cantaloupe half. It was always good!
    This looks like a fancy schmancy version and looks great! Great job on recreating your version.

    Coffee and Crumpets recently posted..Kouign AmannMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      That’s a great idea Nazneen, I will try Thousand Island dressing and see how it goes. Thanks for the tip!

  4. April 15, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Prawn Cocktail is Mr Glams favourite appetiser. It’s having a bit of a renaissance here and is a dish frequently ‘deconstructed’ or tweeked. A good prawn cocktail is a delicious thing and not to be messed with. Your recipe looks perfect. GG
    Glamorous Glutton recently posted..Two Greedy Italians Series Two On DVDMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Thanks GG!! Shrimps are so versatile when it comes to appetizer, and very tempting to deconstruct the recipes I guess. Thanks so much!

  5. April 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    I, too, have gone on a quest to recreate some restaurant dish, not knowing that it would become an obsession. Though I’ve never had a prawn cocktail prepared this way, the sauce sounds like a nice blend of flavors with just the right amount of “kick” fron the horseradish. Well done, Minnie.
    ChgoJohn recently posted..Sauce in the Style of BolognaMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Thank you John!

  6. CCU
    April 15, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    This is such a classy recreation my friend and looks delicious 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru
    CCU recently posted..Getting Back Into ItMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      Thank you Uru, sweet as usual. I never had a true vegetarian give me such lovely compliments 🙂 Hugs!

  7. April 17, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    I love that there’s a revival of this dish in restaurants nowadays! 😀 And well done for cracking the recipe!
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella recently posted..Sourdough 101: Bourke Street Bakery Sourdough ClassMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      I won’t say I cracked it 100%, but this does taste heavenly, so I am happy, lol!

  8. Helen
    April 19, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Great recipe and I’m a Brit. But I do remember my prawn cocktails in London were always tiny little (probably frozen) prawns, not medium or large shrimp and were always served over shredded iceberg lettuce….just a thought, but do not take the short cut of thousand island dressing…It’s just not done !

Comments are closed.