Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
The best Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe! Also known as coctel de camarones, this is a fun twist on a classic appetizer, featuring the flavors of shrimp cocktail plus all the fun of ceviche and a loaded (virgin) Bloody Mary. Grab some tortilla chips or saltines and dig in!
A Fun Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
This Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe gives me all the vacation feels. It instantly transports me to relaxing by the sea with my family. With sand between my toes and always within reach of delicious Mexican eats and an ice cold margarita, these are some of my most treasured memories!
This fun riff on shrimp cocktail is a tasty way to enjoy a little bit of Mexico right here in our own Minnesota backyard. It’s a festive start to any Mexican themed meal or a simple way to enjoy a sunny weekend afternoon on the patio. Featuring the flavors of shrimp cocktail plus all the fun of ceviche or a loaded (virgin) Bloody Mary, this recipe is a celebration in a glass. Grab some tortilla chips or saltines and dig in!
Why You’ll Love This Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Recipe
If you’re not sure which appetizer to serve at your next get together, you should definitely consider this Mexican shrimp cocktail recipe. Here’s why:
- Bold flavor. This shrimp is smothered in a homemade cocktail sauce comprised of tangy tomato juice, zesty lime juice, spicy hot sauce, and more.
- Juicy, tender shrimp. Seasoned with smoked paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder, every bite of this plump, juicy shrimp is heavenly.
- Quick and easy. You can make the shrimp in just over 30 minutes! No need to spend all day in the kitchen with this easy recipe.
What Is Mexican Shrimp Cocktail?
Also known as coctel de camarones – or cocktail de camarones – Mexican shrimp cocktail is a twist on the classic shrimp cocktail. It features a base of spicy, tangy tomato sauce that’s loaded with shrimp, crunchy diced veggies, and creamy avocado bites.
This dish is most often served as an appetizer, but it can also double as a light meal, which is especially awesome on a hot summer day. It’s very similar to ceviche, in that it’s usually eaten as a dip with tortilla chips or saltines. And it also brings to mind a loaded Blooded Mary, as the flavors and ingredients are much the same.
The best shrimp cocktail features a bold cocktail sauce – the zippier, the better, in my opinion. Here’s what you’ll need for this version (exact amounts for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card below):
For the Shrimp Cocktail
- Shrimp – This recipe calls for large, cooked shrimp. You could use smaller shrimp too, but if you do, I would probably just serve them whole in the sauce instead of chopping them up.
- Spices – I like to use a mix of chili powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
- Pantry Staples – You’ll also need olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
- Fresh Produce – My go-to mix includes Roma tomatoes, creamy avocado, crunchy celery, spicy jalapeno, cucumber, red onion, and cilantro.
For the Cocktail Sauce
- Tomato Juice – You can also use Clamato juice if you prefer, or a mix of tomato juice and clam juice.
- Ketchup – Adds a complex sweet yet acidic flavor.
- Prepared Horseradish and Hot Sauce – I like to use Frank’s RedHot, but feel free to use your favorite hot sauce brand!
- Lime Juice – Freshly squeezed lime juice provides the strongest zesty flavor.
- Salt – I usually add in kosher salt.
How to Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
I’m breaking this recipe down into super simple step-by-step instructions. Here’s how to make the best Mexican shrimp cocktail (see the recipe card for the full set of directions)!
- Season the shrimp. Start by drizzling olive oil over the shrimp in a large bowl. Then sprinkle salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika over the top. Toss the shrimp until it’s evenly seasoned.
- Cook the shrimp. Cook your shrimp over high heat in a large skillet for just a couple minutes per side. Remove the shrimp from the heat and allow it to cool. Reserve a few whole shrimp for garnish, and then chop the rest into 4 to 5 pieces each.
- Make the cocktail sauce. To a large bowl, add tomato juice, ketchup, lime juice, prepared horseradish, hot sauce, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Assemble the cocktail. Almost done! Dice the tomatoes, avocado, celery, jalapeno, cucumber, and red onion, and then chop the cilantro. Add the chopped shrimp and prepped fresh ingredients to the cocktail sauce, and then fold to combine. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to let all the flavors come together.
Tips for Success
Pretty simple, right? Even so, I’ve got a few more tips and tricks to share with you on how to make the best Mexican shrimp cocktail:
- Use fresh lime juice. Bottled lime juice will work in a pinch, but freshly squeezed lime juice really adds a boost of bold, tangy, zesty flavor. The difference in taste is definitely noticeable!
- Don’t skip the chill time. That 4 hours of chill time in the fridge is very important for the shrimp cocktail because it allows the flavors to mingle and settle into the shrimp.
- Add the avocado at the end. Avocado can get mushy in the cocktail sauce, so feel free to add it in at the end, right before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mexican shrimp cocktail starts with cooked shrimp, a spicy, tangy tomato sauce, and a generous helping of fresh diced veggies. It’s basically a heartier version of a traditional shrimp cocktail. Ceviche, on the other hand, always starts with raw fish or seafood. The acid in fresh citrus juice “cooks” the raw fish, turning it firm and opaque, just as if it is exposed to heat. Then, the “cooked” fish is mixed with any variety of other ingredients like fruits, peppers, onions, and seasonings.
This fresh version of cocktail sauce – which includes plenty of horseradish, lime, and hot sauce – is so flavorful. It tastes especially bold and edgy right away, which is actually wonderful. But, let it rest in the fridge for a few hours, and you’ll be surprised at how all the flavors come together into a smoother tasting, although still very bold, cocktail sauce.
Substitutions & Recipe Variations
Depending on what I have on hand, or what I’m in the mood for, there are a number of ways to switch up this Mexican shrimp cocktail recipe.
- Plain shrimp – You could skip the additional seasoning and cooking of the shrimp, and just use plain cooked shrimp. Just know that the additional flavors from that step will be lost…but it will still be plenty flavorful!
- Spice level – Depending on your liking/tolerance for spice, it’s easy to increase or decrease the heat. Just adjust the amount of horseradish, jalapeno, and hot sauce.
- Fresh produce – If you’re not a fan of limes, substitute with lemons. You could also play around with other veggies, like different colored sweet bell peppers, any other hot peppers, white or yellow onions, etc. Roasting the jalapenos before adding them to the cocktail would also be fun!
What Goes With Mexican Shrimp Cocktail?
I prefer to eat Mexican shrimp cocktail with crispy, salty tortilla chips. Blake likes saltine crackers. They’re both perfectly fun and delicious, and I recommend putting out both. For an extra hit of fresh, bright flavor right before eating, offer lime wedges to squeeze over the top. Here are a few more ways to serve this shrimp cocktail:
- As part of a Mexican-themed meal. You could make this shrimp alongside Pork Carnitas, Easy Fish Tacos, or Mole Pork Tacos, for example.
- With other light sides. Set up a light dinner by serving this shrimp with Watermelon Salsa, Roasted Mexican Cauliflower, or Mexican Corn Salad.
- With a margarita! This Classic Margarita or this Orange Margarita would go perfectly with Mexican shrimp cocktail.
How to Store
Shrimp cocktail is best served fresh the day you make it. That said, if you have leftovers, you can keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two.
More Shrimp Recipes
Can’t get enough when it comes to easy shrimp recipes? Me neither! Here are a few more ideas for you:
for the shrimp:
- 1 pound large cooked shrimp (31-40 shrimp/pound)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
for the sauce:
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
for the cocktail:
- 4 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/4 cup diced celery (plus more celery for garnish)
- 1/2 cup finely diced jalapeno
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- For the shrimp: Place shrimp in a large bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the shrimp and sprinkle with salt, chili powder, smoked paprika, black pepper and garlic powder. Fold until evenly coated.
- Meanwhile, place a large skillet over high heat and add the remaining oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp to the pan. Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. eserve 1 to 2 whole shrimp per serving for garnish, and then remove the tails from the remaining shrimp and chop them into 4 to 5 pieces each.
- For the sauce: Place all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until fully combined.
- For the cocktail: Add the tomatoes, avocado, celery, jalapeños, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and chopped shrimp to the sauce. Fold to combine.
- Place in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 4 hours, to let flavors mingle.
- To serve: Divide the mixture between 6 glasses and garnish with reserved whole shrimp and celery leaves, if desired. For extra bright flavor, serve with additional lime wedges for squeezing over the top of individual servings. Offer tortilla chips and saltine crackers for dipping. Small spoons are also nice, for digging out all the tasty bites!
To store. Shrimp cocktail is best served fresh the day you make it. That said, if you have leftovers, you can keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 238Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 1161mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 6gSugar: 13gProtein: 7g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
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