The 4 secrets to making SIMPLE Shrimp Cocktail

Learn the-secrets-to-making-flavorful-boiled-shrimp-shrimpcocktail-simplepartyfood

If you are a shrimp cocktail lover, you’ve probably had your fair share of not so memorable, mediocre shrimp cocktails through the years.  Flavorless, pale, rubbery shrimp don’t make for a great appetizer.

The best way to get the most flavor out of your shrimp simply is by roasting them.  This recipe by Happily Unprocessed shows just how deep the color of the shrimp can get by roasting the shrimp with a little olive oil and garlic.

However, if you still insist on boiling them the old fashioned way let us show you a few tricks to get the most out of those shrimp.

  • SECRET #1 – Shrimp shells –  Don’t throw the shells away once you’ve peeled the shrimp.  There’s tons of flavor in there.
  • SECRET #2 – Aromatics – again, plain water is flavorless.  Adding aromatics such as lemon, parsley, peppercorns, and pa Bay leaf help flavor the water.  Try adding a pinch of Old Bay while you’re at it.
  • SECRET #3 Poach not boil – Rapid, violent boiling water results in battered shrimp.  Simmer the shrimp gently.
  • SECRET #4 – Ice Bath – Once the shrimp are cooked through, submerge them in an ice bath.  Not doing this step will allow the shrimp to continue to cook and become overcooked, rubbery and chewy.

If you’re in a hurry, there’s nothing wrong with store bought cocktail sauce, although it does lack a little flavor if you ask us.  If you do happen to have a few extra minutes, all it takes are a few pantry staples and you’ve not only saved a few bucks but you control the spiciness.  Our recipe has a good balance and it’s not too spicy.

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Learn the-secrets-to-making-flavorful-boiled-shrimp-shrimpcocktail-simplepartyfood

The 4 secrets to making SIMPLE Shrimp Cocktail

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  • 24 Xtra Large Shrimp, fresh or frozen
  • Shells of shrimp
  • 6 Peppercorns
  • Handful of fresh Parsley
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • ½ Lemon


  1. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails in tact. Place the shells in a large saucepan.
  2. Fill the saucepan ¾ full with water. Add the peppercorns, parsley, bay leaf and lemon. Bring it to a boil.
  3. Remove the pan from the stove and either pour the water through a strainer into a fresh pot or scoop the ingredients out with a strainer.
  4. Place the pot back on the stove over low/medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Add the shrimp and simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the shrimp curl, turn pink and float.
  5. Immediately submerge the shrimp in ice water to stop the cooking and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. Serve alongsidehomemade cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.


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The secrets to making the best shrimp cocktail and what you're doing wrong #appetizers #simplepartyfood

The secrets to making the best shrimp cocktail and what you're doing wrong #appetizers #simplepartyfood

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  • Reply
    December 13, 2020 at 8:47 am

    coming from the East Coast I can totally appreciate this post! Unless I know the shrimp has been prebought at a party I don’t eat it. Most people have no idea that boiling your shrimp to death destroys them and leaves them tasteless. Great article !!!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    Great tips. Came out great

  • Reply
    December 15, 2023 at 3:00 pm


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