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 Recipe
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!
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, 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.
So What’s the Difference Between Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and Ceviche?
There is definitely a lot in common between Mexican shrimp cocktail and ceviche, but it all comes down to the ingredients and preparation.
Mexican shrimp cocktail starts with cooked shrimp. Add to that a spicy, tangy tomato sauce and a generous helping of fresh diced veggies, and it’s basically a heartier version of the traditional shrimp cocktail that we all know so well.
Ceviche, on the other hand, always starts with raw fish or seafood. Think shrimp, scallops, squid (calamari), salmon, tuna, sea bass, or other firm white fish. The acid in fresh citrus juice “cooks” the raw fish, turning it firm and opaque, just as if it is exposed to heat. And then the “cooked” fish is mixed with any variety of other ingredients like fruits, peppers, onions, and seasonings. My recipes for Watermelon Shrimp Ceviche and Grilled Shrimp Ceviche are great examples – some of my favorite recipes!
The best shrimp cocktail features a bold cocktail sauce – the zippier, the better, in my opinion. This recipe is quick and easy, and it’s loaded with shrimp, fresh bites, and TONS of flavor!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- shrimp: This recipe calls for large, cooked shrimp.
- spices: chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika
- pantry staples: olive oil, salt, black pepper
- other pantry items: tomato juice, ketchup, prepared horseradish, hot sauce
- fresh produce: limes, roma tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno, cucumber, red onion, cilantro
How to Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
I’m breaking this down into 3 easy steps. Here’s how to make Mexican shrimp cocktail!
1. How to cook shrimp for shrimp cocktail:
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. Fold until evenly seasoned.
Cook shrimp over high heat in a large skillet, just a couple minutes per side. Remove shrimp from heat and allow to cool. Reserve a few whole shrimp for garnish, and then chop the rest into 4 to 5 pieces each.
2. How to make shrimp cocktail sauce:
To a large bowl, add tomato juice, ketchup, lime juice, prepared horseradish, hot sauce, and salt. Whisk to combine.
3. How to finish up:
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 fold to combine. Cover and place in the fridge for at least four hours, to let all the flavors come together.
What Does Cocktail Sauce Taste Like?
I grew up on cocktail sauce, straight from the bottle. And wherever I ate it, it all tasted the same. Kinda like a slightly spicy ketchup with a bit of added texture.
But then I had the awesome pleasure to experience a cocktail sauce at a work Christmas party many years ago that knocked my socks off. Almost literally. It made my nose tingle and my eyes water. It was SO GOOD. And it was all because it was homemade, with fresh citrus juice and a super hefty dose of prepared horseradish.
This fresh version of cocktail sauce – which includes plenty of horseradish, lime, and hot sauce – is bold and 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. You’ll be reminded of that shrimp cocktail sauce you grew up on, but this will be SO MUCH BETTER!
Variations & Substitutions
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 recipe.
- 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. I use this prepared horseradish and this hot sauce for this recipe – so different products will also make a difference.
- fresh produce – If you’re not a fan of limes, substitute 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 to Serve 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 offering both. I also like to set out small spoons, to make it easier for people to dig into their own individual serving. And for an extra hit of fresh, bright flavor right before eating, offer lime wedges to squeeze over the top.
I like to serve this as an appetizer with a Mexican themed meal. Or simply enjoy it as a light meal on a hot summer day. Blake and I have also been known to camp out in front of the TV on a Friday night, with glasses of Mexican shrimp cocktail, tortilla chips, and saltines. Because it also happens to go really great with Netflix!
Looking for Mexican meal inspiration? Here are some ideas for you!
- Mole Pork Tacos
- Margarita Grilled Shrimp
- Grilled Chipotle Orange Salmon
- Easy Fish Tacos
- Grilled Margarita Turkey Kebabs
- Grilled Pork & Pineapple Tacos
- Classic Margarita
- Orange Margarita
- Jalapeno Mezcal Margarita
- Pineapple Jalapeno Margarita
- Mexican Coffee
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!
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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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