How to Make Cocktail Sauce

Cocktail sauce is a perfect accompaniment to boiled or fried shrimp, but did you know it can be made at home? Homemade cocktail sauces are really simple and quick with ingredients that may already be in your pantry. I am going to show you how easy my best seafood cocktail recipe is! I know this cocktail sauce recipe will soon become your favorite.

shrimp and homemade cocktail sauce in a martini glass

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Homemade Cocktail Sauce

There is something magical about the zesty taste of this sauce when paired with cold shrimp. This appetizer is perfect for summer, my zesty homemade recipe makes this dish so versatile – you’ll be able to use it as an app or dip for tons of more great recipes!

Why make homemade cocktail sauce?

When you make your own seafood cocktail sauce you can use high-quality ingredients, your homemade version will not have high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, and xantham gum. Then natural flavors will shine through, and I know you will think this rich cocktail sauce is better than those bottles of cocktail sauce you buy at the grocery store.

This classic cocktail sauce is perfect for beginner cooks. You can make a flavorful sauce in no time at all.

Cocktail Sauce Ingredients

Before you make your best cocktail sauce, you need to get your ingredients together. Here is what you will need.

  • Ketchup – I like to use good quality ketchup here, I like some of the natural versions that brands like Heinz.
  • Chili sauce – this condiment offers zip and zing of this sauce. Learn more about chili sauce.
  • Horseradish – I buy fresh horseradish in jars at the grocery store. You can typically find fresh horseradish in the grocery store either in the deli or the dairy section. Horseradish is what gives you zesty cocktail sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce – My favorite brand is Lea and Perrins!
  • Lemon juice – freshly squeezed is best! Fresh lemon juice gives your sauce a bright taste and helps to bring out the natural flavor of whatever you serve it with.
  • Tabasco – if you like a little heat, add a couple of shakes, and you will have just the right amount of heat.
  • Black pepper – this is optional, but if you like your cocktail sauce with a bit of heat, this is exactly what you want to add.
ingredients for homemade cocktail sauce

Ingredient Notes

Some folks ask me what chili sauce is. It is a tomato-based sauce. You can find this in the grocery store right next to the cocktail sauce.

I like to use Chili Sauce in chili, it is great for 5-way chili. It doesn’t add a lot of heat, but what it does add is some sweet, slightly spicy flavor. If you haven’t tried chili sauce, I would definitely recommend you giving this recipe a try.

How do you make cocktail sauce from scratch?

It couldn’t be easier to make this recipe for cocktail sauce!

  1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl.
cocktail sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl
  1. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  2. Allow the sauce to set for at least an hour before serving.

If you like you can make this spicier by adding more horseradish. This is a great way to get a bit more heat. So if you like it a bit hotter be sure to add a little more horseradish.

cooked shrimp and homemade cocktail sauce in a martini glass

Different Uses For Cocktail Sauce

  • Shrimp Cocktail – Shrimp cocktail is one of everyone’s favorite appetizers. You can make a shrimp cocktail by boiling some shrimp and serving it in an attractive dish with your own homemade cocktail sauce.
  • Fried Fish – your own cocktail sauce is ideal!
  • Oysters – this works well for fried or raw oysters.
  • Crab Cakes – this seafood sauce adds the right amount of zing to your favorite crab cakes.
  • Ceviche – use it as a sauce when you make ceviche
  • Cheese Sticks – it’s the perfect zesty dip for cheese sticks.
  • Burgers – add as a burger topping in place of ketchup.

What can I use instead of cocktail sauce?

Here are some links for some other copycat dipping sauces for dipping your shrimp.

How to Store

Keep homemade cocktail sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 5 days in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy making this homemade cocktail sauce the next time you want to serve a shrimp cocktail.

Shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce

Favorite Dipping Sauce Recipes

Find the best party dips and my famous copycat recipes right here on!

shrimp and homemade cocktail sauce in a martini glass

Homemade Cocktail Sauce

Make shrimp cocktail sauce in no time at all.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cocktail sauce, How to Make Cocktail Sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 58kcal


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Allow the flavors to marry for about an hour before serving.



This will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 1 week.


Calories: 58kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 612mg | Potassium: 197mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 310IU | Vitamin C: 6.9mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.4mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. BM

    This is not cocktail sauce. At best it’s a Mary Rose sauce. Cocktail sauce is not made with ketchup, mayonaise nor chili. It’s made with fresh tomatoes, cream and a good cognac, Add Worcestershire sauce, lemon, sel de Fleur and black pepper. And that’s not even the real original recipe. But definitely no mayonnaise or ketchup.

    • Stephanie Manley

      BM, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing European standard recipes. I have never had this style of cocktail sauce. I will have to look into something similar. The sauce you have described is not a typical condiment for fish in the United States.

  2. Ron Seitz

    I was taught how to make by my brother in law in Pensacola FL (lots of Gulf shrimp right off the boats). Start with your favorite catsup adding horseradish till it starts showing some white, couple of dashes of worsteshite sauce, some lemon zest and some juice to taste. And that’s all it is! Enjoy!

5 from 6 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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