A shrimp cocktail platter is always a welcome addition to any buffet, fancy or not!

Homemade shrimp cocktail has so much flavor and the shrimp are so tender and juicy compared to defrosting a frozen shrimp ring.

close up of Shrimp Cocktail on a plate

You’ll never buy premade shrimp rings again!

Homemade Shrimp Cocktail

When I first heard that someone was “making” shrimp cocktail I couldn’t understand why. They’re easy to buy and serve.

Once you make it homemade you’ll never go back. The flavor is so much better and the texture of the shrimp just cannot be compared. Homemade comes out so juicy and so tender.

The great thing about shrimp cocktail is that it can be made ahead of time and is served chilled making it an easy snack to serve guests.

How To Peel Shrimp

I try to buy peeled deveined shrimp (with tails) to make this dish easy. If you only have shrimp in shells, you can peel them yourself. I find scissors the easiest way to peel.

  • If they have heads, remove the heads with a sharp knife or pull them off.
  • Use the scissors to cut from top of the shrimp shell down to the tail (be sure to leave the tail intact). Remove the shell leaving the tail on if desired.
  • Slip a little knife under the black vein (which is actually the digestive tract) and remove & discard it.

ingredients to make Shrimp Cocktail

How to Make Shrimp Cocktail

This is literally the easiest recipe!

  1. Prepare the poaching water (per recipe below). Bring to a boil.
  2. Add lemon & shrimp to water & remove from heat. Let shrimp cook poach in the water for 3 to 4 minutes.

adding ingredients to cook Shrimp Cocktail

  1. Use a slotted spoon & remove shrimp. Plunge into an ice bath & let them chill completely.
  2. Arrange on a serving platter, serve with lemon wedges & cocktail sauce.

adding shrimp to ice to make Shrimp Cocktail

Tips For Making Shrimp Cocktail

Making shrimp cocktail is a snap, but here are a few fave tips!

  • Ensure the liquid is at a full rolling boil before adding shrimp.
  • Allow the shrimp to cook in the hot water just a few minutes. Do not overcook.
  • Jumbo shrimp need 3-4 minutes to cook through. Smaller shrimp will only need 2-3 minutes.
  • The ice bath stops the shrimp from overcooking keeping it tender and juicy, don’t skip this step!
  • Refrigerate shrimp cocktail up to 24 hours before serving.

Amazing Appetizers

Did your guests love this Shrimp Cocktail? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below! 

Shrimp Cocktail with dip on a white plate
5 from 11 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Shrimp Cocktail

This Shrimp Cocktail platter is perfectly seasoned & savory, it's the ultimate party appetizer!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 ½ pounds jumbo shrimp
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ lemon
  • ice
  • lemon wedges and cocktail sauce for serving optional


  • Place 6 cups of water in a saucepan. Add celery, salt, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and let simmer 10 minutes (while you prepare the shrimp if needed).
  • If your shrimp have the shells on, you will need to remove the shell leaving the tail intact. To prepare shrimp, cut the top of the shrimp shell along the back all the way down to the tail. Remove the shell leaving the tail in place. Place a small knife under the black vein and remove and discard it. Repeat with remaining shrimp.
  • Add one half lemon and shrimp to the simmering water. Immediately remove from heat and cover.
  • Let rest covered until shrimp are pink and firm, about 3-4 minutes for jumbo shrimp.
  • Use a slotted spoon to move shrimp into the ice bath and cool completely.
  • Once cold, serve shrimp with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce or refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving.


Jumbo shrimp should show 16 to 20 per pound on the package.
Jumbo shrimp need 3-4 minutes to cook through. Smaller shrimp may only need 2-3 minutes.
The ice bath stops the shrimp from overcooking keeping it tender and juicy, don't skip this step!
5 from 11 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 86 | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 214mg | Sodium: 713mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Appetizer, Party Food, Seafood, Snack
Cuisine American
Shrimp Cocktail on a white plate with dip and a itle
close up of Shrimp Cocktail on a plate with a title
Shrimp Cocktail with dip and a title
Shrimp Cocktail in the pan and plated with a title


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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. What can I say? Delicious! My teenage granddaughter tasted one and said, Dad, come over here and have this shrimp…it actually tastes like shrimp!” Thanks so much for helping to make our Christmas Eve dinner a success!

    And I used frozen, raw shrimp … defrosted and cleaned…the best!

  2. Hello. You say you can use fresh or frozen shrimp when you start. If frozen, do you thaw before putting in full boiling water or straight in while frozen. Mine are frozen and already deshelled and deveined with tail on.

    1. Hi Craig, If using frozen shrimp we recommend running under cold water to thaw before adding to the saucepan.

  3. In one place it says drop the shrimp and lemon into simmering water , cover and remove from heat cook for a few minutes, and then at the end it says make sure the water is at a full rolling boil before putting the shrimp in Why the 2 different methods??

    1. Apologies for the confusion Yvonne. The water should be boiling before adding the shrimp to allow the flavors into the poaching liquid. Once it has boiled, it should be reduced to a simmer. As soon as the shrimp are added it should be removed from the heat to keep them from overcooking. I hope that helps.