Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

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This bright and fresh Mexican shrimp cocktail recipe will be one of your favorite easy Mexican recipes. It features a simple, zesty shrimp cocktail sauce that’s made with fresh ingredients, bright flavors, and a hint of spice… plus perfectly cooked juicy shrimp. It makes a healthy appetizer or snack that’s perfect for any party!

What Is Shrimp Cocktail?

Traditional shrimp cocktail serves up cold cooked prawns or shrimp in a glass with a zesty, spicy sauce. This Mexican shrimp cocktail pairs the same juicy shrimp with a salsa-inspired cocktail sauce. Simply the best!

Why You’ll Love This Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

  • Light, fresh, zesty, and spicy flavor
  • Crunchy veggies, tender shrimp
  • Ready in just 15 minutes
  • Made with simple and fresh ingredients
  • Naturally low carb, gluten-free, and healthy
Mexican shrimp cocktail in a glass.

Shrimp Cocktail Ingredients

This section explains how to choose the ingredients for the best shrimp cocktail, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.

For The Shrimp:

  • Medium Shrimp – This will be labeled 41/50 at the grocery store, but you can use smaller or larger shrimp if you like. For larger or jumbo shrimp, it’s best to dip the shrimp into the cocktail sauce instead of stirring in. Choose peeled, deveined shrimp for convenience, or do it yourself. Fresh or frozen shrimp will both work — just thaw your shrimp if it’s frozen. You can also buy cooked shrimp to save time on the cooking step.
  • Lime Juice – The acid is used for “cooking” the shrimp if you want to marinate it. This is not required if you’ll be poaching the shrimp to cook it.
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper

For The Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Sauce:

  • Red Onion – I prefer red onion, but you could also use white onion. If you want it a little more mild, soak in cold water for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
  • Cilantro – I highly recommend fresh cilantro leaves here, but if all you have is dried, you can replace the 1/3 cup fresh cilantro in this shrimp cocktail recipe with 1 1/2 teaspoons (a.k.a. 1/2 tablespoon) dried cilantro instead.
  • Tomato – Roma tomatoes work really well here, but you could also use any type, as they will be diced.
  • Jalapeno – Remove seeds for less heat, or leave them in if you want it spicier.
  • Ketchup – I used homemade sugar-free ketchup, but you can use any type.
  • Hot Sauce – Any Mexican hot sauce, like Tabasco sauce, Valentina, or Tapatio, works well.
  • Lime Juice – Use fresh lime juice for best flavor, or bottled lime juice for convenience. If you don’t have any on hand, lemon juice works fine.
  • Sea Salt (or kosher salt) & Black Pepper
  • Avocado – Look for a ripe and slightly soft avocado. Cut into cubes.


Other common additions for shrimp cocktail sauce include Worcestershire sauce (1-2 tablespoons), horseradish (2-4 teaspoons), minced garlic cloves (2 or 3), or finely diced celery (2 tablespoons).

Ingredients to make shrimp cocktail recipe.

How To Cook Shrimp For Shrimp Cocktail

There are two main ways to cook shrimp for shrimp cocktail — you can choose which you like best.


No matter which method you use, follow these steps first:

  1. Defrost. If you shrimp is frozen, defrost it in the fridge overnight, or in a bowl of cold water on the counter.
  2. Peel. If your shrimp is not already prepared this way, go ahead and peel and devein it. Cut through the shell with kitchen shears, unless your shrimp is labeled “easy peel”, where this is typically already done. Hold onto the the tail of the shrimp and peel off the shell right next to it, then slide off.
TIP: Decide if you want to leave the tail intact.

TIP: Decide if you want to leave the tail intact.

If you plan to stir the shrimp into the cocktail sauce (and dip with chips or crackers), go ahead and remove the tail. If you’ll be serving the sauce on the side and dipping the shrimp into it, leave the tail on.

Poach Shrimp:

Shrimp is very easy to overcook, so we don’t want to cook it in boiling water. Instead, we’ll boil the water first, turn off the heat, and only then add the shrimp to let it cook using the residual heat.

  1. Prep. Peel and devein the shrimp if you didn’t purchase it that way.
  2. Cook shrimp. Boil water and add shrimp to the pot. Turn off heat and let sit until shrimp is cooked through.
  3. Chill. As soon as the shrimp is cooked through, immediately plunge it into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. This will also prevent rubbery shrimp.
TIP: For more flavor, add things to the water.

TIP: For more flavor, add things to the water.

Try bay leaves, fresh herbs (like parsley or cilantro), and lemon wedges (or just lemon peel).

Marinate Shrimp:

If you prefer a ceviche-style flavor, you can marinate the shrimp with lime juice to “cook” it — no heat required.

  1. Mix. Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Add the lime juice, salt, and pepper.
  2. Marinate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until the shrimp turns pink — this means it’s “cooked”.
TIP: You can marinate the shrimp for up to 8 hours.

TIP: You can marinate the shrimp for up to 8 hours.

Longer than that might make it mushy.

How To Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

  1. Mix. In a large bowl, stir together the onion, cilantro, tomato, jalapeno, sugar-free ketchup, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, and pepper. (If you’ll be serving the shrimp on the side, you can use a small bowl instead.)
  2. Finish. Gently fold in shrimp (if you want it mixed in) and avocado.
  3. Serve. Divide the Mexican shrimp cocktail among individual glasses (I think the martini glasses shown here look so pretty!), or for larger shrimp, serve the shrimp on the side and dip into the Mexican cocktail sauce. See below for more serving suggestions.
Shrimp cocktail in serving glass.

How To Serve Shrimp Cocktail

  • Shrimp Cocktail Platter – Don’t mix the shrimp into the sauce. Instead, serve the cooked shrimp in a shallow bowl of ice (or a bed of greens if it will be eaten quickly), with the homemade shrimp cocktail sauce in the middle. Garnish with fresh lime wedges or lemon wedges.
  • Chips – Tortilla chips are the classic Mexican choice. (You can also make keto tortilla chips if you like.)
  • Crackers – Saltine crackers or almond flour crackers.
  • Veggies – Mini bell peppers, cucumbers, or celery are excellent for scooping.

Storage Instructions

Keep Mexican shrimp cocktail in the refrigerator.

How Long Does Shrimp Cocktail Last In The Fridge?

Shrimp cocktail recipes will last up to a day in the fridge. If you want to make this dish ahead, don’t add avocado until right before serving to extend the shelf life.

Can You Freeze Shrimp Cocktail?

You can freeze many shrimp cocktail recipes, but this particular one is not great for freezing, since it has a lot of fresh ingredients and the textures can change.

Serving shrimp cocktail sauce with crackers.

More Healthy Shrimp Recipes

If you like this recipe, you might also like some of these other healthy shrimp recipes:

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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

To Poach Shrimp (Option 1):

  1. Bring a medium pot with salted water to a boil, then turn off the heat.

  2. Add the shrimp to the hot water. Let the shrimp sit in the water for about 3 minutes, or until it turns pink and is cooked through. Meanwhile, prepare a bowl of ice water.

  3. Remove the shrimp from the water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge it into the ice water to prevent overcooking.

To Marinate Shrimp (Option 2):

  1. Place shrimp in a large bowl. Add the lime juice, sea salt, and black pepper.

  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until it has turned pink, or for up to 8 hours.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the red onion, cilantro, tomato, jalapeno, sugar-free ketchup, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

  2. Gently fold in the avocado and cooked shrimp. Serve with chips, crackers, or veggies. Alternatively, don’t add the shrimp to the sauce and instead serve the shrimp on the side over ice and dip into the shrimp cocktail sauce.

Recipe Notes

Serving size: 3/4 cup

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.

Calories 49

Fat 2.5g

Protein 0.6g

Total Carbs 5.6g

Net Carbs 4g

Fiber 1.6g

Sugar 1.9g

Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.

© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂

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