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Chef John's Shrimp Cocktail


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  • Cocktail Sauce:
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • Onions Red Fresh
  • 1 lb For $1.48 - Expires in 2 days
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay®)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops hot sauce, or to taste
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 pounds shell-on deveined jumbo shrimp



Step 1

Stir water, onion, lemon, garlic, tarragon, seafood seasoning, peppercorns, and bay leaf together in a large pot; bring to a simmer and cook until flavors blend, about 15 minutes.
Whisk ketchup, chili sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and salt together in a bowl; refrigerate until chilled, at least 15 minutes.
Bring poaching liquid to a rapid boil. Cook the shrimp in the boiling liquid until they are bright pink on the outside and the meat is no longer transparent in the center, about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl of ice water and immerse in ice water until cold; drain. Arrange cold shrimp on a platter and serve with chilled sauce.

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