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Killer Shrimp Cocktail

A flavorful shrimp boil and homemade cocktail sauce bring this Beetlejuice-inspired appetizer to life! Perfect for dinner parties and Halloween festivities!

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Who doesn’t love a memorable appetizer? Presenting even the most basic dishes in a fun way can totally take them to the next level and impress your dinner guests without much extra effort on your part.

Shrimp cocktail arranged around the rim of a glass with lemon wedges.

I have a mild obsession with shrimp cocktail (and Halloween – especially Beetlejuice!). Throw in a homemade cocktail sauce and

Full disclosure: I’ve been known to order shrimp cocktail and 1 or 2 other appetizers as my meal when my family goes out to dinner.

There’s just something about it that’s so much fun. It’s light, cool, and refreshing.

One of my favorite Supper Club themes to date was Movie Foods. I jumped at the opportunity to pay tribute to one of my favorite movie scenes of all time – the dinner party scene from Beetlejuice. Who could forget that shrimp cocktail coming to life and grabbing everyone’s faces?

Typically, cocktail sauce is made with jazzed up store-bought ingredients. I decided to challenge myself by making homemade slow cooker ketchup as the base for my sauce, and flavoring it with lemon juice and zest, some horseradish for spice, Worcestershire sauce and a bit of hot sauce.

Dipping shrimp into cocktail sauce.

Feel free to use whatever ketchup you have in your pantry here. The homemade ketchup was a fun touch, but by no means necessary.

I also made a flavorful shrimp boil instead of buying pre-cooked shrimp, which worked out really well. It imparted such a nice flavor to the shrimp, and was simple to put together.

This turned out phenomenally – it was totally worth the effort I put into making it. Plus, I had to present it in a manner worthy of one of my favorite childhood movies. I must say, it looked killer!

One of the best parts about this recipe is that you can make all of the components in advance. When dinner is about to be served, just pop them on a fancy martini glass (I like using one that has a little ice holder underneath to keep the cocktail sauce extra cold) and serve!

Shrimp cocktail arranged around a glass with lemon slices.

I just realized I said “Beetlejuice” more than 3 times in this post and Michael Keaton hasn’t shown up! He must be stuck in Sandworm Land…

What are your favorite dinner party appetizers? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Looking for more shrimp recipes? Check out some of our favorites:

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Shrimp cocktail displayed on a glass with ice.

Killer Shrimp Cocktail

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen - Ashley Covelli
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


A flavorful shrimp boil and homemade cocktail sauce bring this Beetlejuice-inspired appetizer to life! Perfect for dinner parties and Halloween festivities!


Units Scale

For the Shrimp:

  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the Cocktail Sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cup ketchup (I used homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish


  1. For the Shrimp: Place the lemon, peppercorns, bay leaf, onion and garlic in a large stock pot and fill with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  2. Add shrimp to the water and cook until pink and slightly firm, about 3 minutes. Plunge the shrimp into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain shrimp and chill until ready to use.
  3. For the Cocktail Sauce: Combine ketchup, horseradish, lemon zest and juice, Worcestershire and hot sauce in a bowl Chill until ready to serve.
  4. To serve, arrange shrimp on a serving platter. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the shrimp and serve with extra lemon wedges and cocktail sauce for dipping. To make it more Beetlejuice-esque, pour a little cocktail sauce into a martini glass and line the rim of the glass with shrimp and lemon wedges.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 215
  • Sugar: 21.5 g
  • Sodium: 989.7 mg
  • Fat: 0.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29.6 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 23.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 182.5 mg

Keywords: shrimp, shrimp cocktail, horseradish

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes
Killer Shrimp Cocktail: A flavorful shrimp boil and homemade cocktail sauce bring this Beetlejuice-inspired appetizer to life! Perfect for dinner parties and Halloween festivities!

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.


  • Nutmeg Nanny

    I LOVE homemade shrimp cocktail. It’s always so much cheaper to have at home plus I love making my own flavor packed cocktail sauce.

  • Dominique Fasano

    I’ve always wanted to make my own cocktail sauce, it’s one of my favorites. This recipe looks just scrumptious and perfect for the holidays!

  • Dishes Delish

    Hehe, loved the Beetlejuice reference. I also have been known to order a few appetizers for my meal and I LOVE shrimp cocktail!! Can’t wait to make your recipe!

  • Analida's Ethnic Spoon

    I have to say shrimp cocktail is one of my all time favorite appetizers and we have it at our family gatherings. I can’t wait to try your shrimp boil! Thanks for sharing!

  • Alicia Taylor

    I have that same Ravenscroft crystal glass and I love it for serving ice cream. I also have been known to order a shrimp coctail and a salad as my meal. Looks great.

    • BigFlavorsFromATinyKitchen

      I’m not sure if the Ravenscroft one is the same as the one I have – I got it from a local bar that closed down a few years back. But good to know you love it if I ever need to buy another! Yay for shrimp cocktail!

  • Marisa Franca Stewart

    You make the sauce exactly how we do. Love the touch of horseradish in it. And we use enough of it to clear all sinuses. Shrimp cocktail is one of our favorite appetizers.

    • BigFlavorsFromATinyKitchen

      I’m always down for more horseradish! Love the sinus clearing aspect – great for the cooler weather, right? Ha!

  • Lynn @ theroadtohoney

    I’m with you on having several appetizers as dinner. I frequently find myself doing that too. Btw. . .I’m super impressed that you went all out and made ketchup from scratch. I recall my husband doing this when we were strictly low carb (probably for cocktail sauce too). . .but I’ve never really attempted myself. The shrimp cocktail looks fab.

    • BigFlavorsFromATinyKitchen

      It’s the best way to get a little bit of everything! Homemade ketchup is fun, but definitely not something I’d do often (in fact, I’ve only done it once ever). Definitely a good way to cut down on added sugar!

  • Amanda

    Shrimp cocktail is one of my favorite appetizers! (I also sometimes order it for lunch by itself when I’m out with friends.) You’ve also reminded me that it’s been way too long since I’ve watched Beetlejuice. Such a fun movie.

  • Julie | Bunsen Burner Bakery

    I love ordering multiple appetizers instead of an entree for dinner! I think I just get bored quickly of eating the same thing, haha.

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