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Classic Shrimp Cocktail

The classic shrimp cocktail salad turns an old favorite from 50 years ago into something new and fresh that you’ll be proud to serve to family and guests. All you need are salad bowls, a mixing bowl, and some food staples you probably already have in your kitchen. Oh, and of course, you’ll need shrimp.

shrimp cocktail on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes

Pick up some super cheap (3 or 4 for a dollar) custard cups from a dollar store to add a finishing touch to this salad.

These aren’t actually necessary, but they’re really nice to have.

Once you have them, you’ll find quite a few more uses for these pieces in the future.

Two clear glass custard cups.

Quick and Easy Lunch or Dinner

I always make sure I have some items that are super handy and easy to thaw. I love having plenty of ingredients to make a quick and easy meal.

One of the things I love about this shrimp cocktail is that it’s so versatile. You can enjoy it as an appetizer, a snack, or the main part of the meal.

Since I placed it on a bed of greens and tomatoes, I consider it part of a salad.

Shrimp Cocktail You Can Make in a Flash

I make shrimp cocktail as well as shrimp salad several different ways. When I have a few more minutes to prepare a meal, I make this creamy shrimp salad.

This shrimp cocktail is the easiest one in my repertoire. It is not only quick but it is also delicious.

My parents used to have shrimp cocktails before meals fairly often. In fact, I remember that they had them almost every time they had guests over for dinner.

It requires no cooking. You assemble it in a matter of minutes. Serve it with a side of crusty bread and butter or a plate of cheese and your favorite crackers.

Small cooked shrimp in a bowl

First, start with fully cooked shrimp. This time, I used small shrimp.

However, if I just happen to have large or jumbo shrimp on hand, I’ll use that instead.

You can use fresh or frozen shrimp. I typically buy them precooked frozen shrimp, but you can buy raw shrimp and cook them.

Just remember that shrimp cooks quickly. Overcooking it messes up the texture. As soon as they turn pink, they’re probably ready.

Bowl of shrimp with cocktail sauce

Now that you have your shrimp ready, it’s time to finish making the shrimp cocktail.

Then add some cocktail sauce. Most store-bought sauce is good, regardless of the brand.

If you want to make your own, try this yummy homemade cocktail sauce. This recipe is super easy as well.

Shrimp coated in cocktail sauce

After that, stir the sauce into the shrimp until all of them are coated.

You don’t have to use as much cocktail sauce as I did. We like a lot of it.

Bottle of Tabasco sauce to add to the shrimp cocktail

The cocktail sauce is all you need on the shrimp, although the Tabasco sauce makes it even better.

If you make the homemade sauce, you’ll probably have enough.

Ring of mixed salad greens and cherry tomato halves

Since this is a salad, you’ll need some veggies. Besides, they add texture and crunch to the meal.

Let each person add dressing to the greens. A good one is this lemon garlic salad dressing or this amazing buttermilk ranch dressing.

Vary the Flavor

If you like to change things up, add some other ingredients. There are so many different things you can do. Here are some fun ones:

Turn this into a Mexican shrimp cocktail by adding some chili powder or taco seasoning. Or you can use chili sauce in place of cocktail sauce if you prefer. Serve it with nachos and cheese.

For more of an Italian flavor, add some Italian seasonings, such as basil, oregano, thyme, or a blend of all 3. Add a slice of Italian bread with some seasoned olive oil for dipping. So delicious!

Add other ingredients to adjust the flavor a bit. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Prepared horseradish sauce
  • Sriracha sauce

Look around in your spice cabinet and see what looks good to you.

If you would like to try other seasonings, try mixing them into a small amount of cocktail sauce. Then, if you like it, add it to the full recipe.

Easy-to-Make Nutritious Meal

Salad bowl filled with mixed greens, tomatoes, and a shrimp cocktail in the center

Finally, place the shrimp cocktail into the center of the salad ring. If you don’t have custard cups, you can carefully scoop the shrimp cocktail mixture into the center.

Remember that if you have the right ingredients on hand, dinner can be super quick, easy, budget-friendly, and nutritious! Although this shrimp cocktail salad can be served at any time, it is one of our favorite holiday meals.

Yield: 2 salads

Shrimp Cocktail Salad

Shrimp cocktail with lettuce and tomatoes

Refreshing, delicious, and easy to assemble, this salad is perfect for lunch or dinner.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 cups cooked small shrimp
  • 1/2 cup cocktail sauce (the red one)
  • Dash of Tabasco (optional)
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons salad dressing (whatever kind you like)
  • 1 avocado cut into 8 slices lengthwise (optional)


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine shrimp and cocktail sauce. If you like extra spicy food, add Tabasco. Stir until all of the shrimp are coated.
  2. Divide salad greens into two equal portions and arrange them in a ring on salad plates or large, shallow bowls.
  3. Place the halved tomatoes evenly on top of the greens.
  4. Drizzle salad dressing over the salad.
  5. If you like avocado, place the slices on the side of the salad.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

1/2 of ingredients

Amount Per Serving Calories 540Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 314mgSodium 2288mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 9gSugar 16gProtein 38g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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