I absolutely love seafood. Crabs, shrimp, fish, crab cakes, oysters… I can’t get enough. But I also always want a good sauce to go along with it. It’s easy enough to just melt some butter, or to mix together ingredients for tartar sauce. But there’s something special about the sweet-meets-heat style of a quality cocktail sauce.
It’s certainly easy enough to grab a jar in the seafood section at the store, but I really prefer to make my own homemade cocktail sauce. Fresh lemon juice and horseradish give it the zip that I love, and I can easily adjust how much heat I want it to have.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make cocktail sauce, you’ve come to the right place. This is an easy, quick recipe that you can modify however you like to get the perfect seafood sauce.
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What is Cocktail Sauce?
Cocktail sauce is a condiment that is often served with seafood. It is most commonly seen served with shrimp cocktail or raw oysters on the half shell, but it serves as a common dipping sauce for other seafood, too.
The sauce’s creation is often credited to chef, writer, and restaurant critic Franny Cradock as well as to the British chain restaurant Berni Inns. There’s also a legend that the sauce was born as a result of a miner’s mix of some of the ingredients to go with his oysters during his after-work drink at a San Francisco bar.
No matter who created it, the bottom line is that it’s the perfect sauce to use with your seafood.
- Ketchup – get your favorite brand at the store or quickly whip up some ketchup on your own at home.
- Prepared horseradish – use this ingredient to taste. If you enjoy a spicy cocktail sauce, use as much as you like.
- Lemon juice – squeeze your own or grab a bottle of the pre-packaged variety at the store.
- Worcestershire sauce – this fermented liquid brings umami to this classic sauce.
- Hot sauce – choose your favorite brand and add as much or as little as you like depending on how much heat you want in your sauce.
- Fine sea salt – be sure to use fine salt as the granules dissolve more quickly in the sauce.
- Black pepper – use finely ground pepper so that it mixes well in the recipe.
How To Use Cocktail Sauce
Of course the most popular use for cocktail sauce is dipping for shrimp cocktail or other seafood like crab cakes. But there are so many other ways to use this somewhat spicy sauce.
I absolutely adore mozzarella sticks and while I will often use marinara as a dip, cocktail sauce is also a delicious alternative. It’s also a perfect pair with pizza crusts or garlic bread. I even enjoy substituting cocktail sauce for tomato soup as a dip for grilled cheese.
It is also an amazing condiment to use with eggs. You can slather your omelet with it, dip your scrambled eggs in it, or put a dollop on your deviled eggs.
For your fried side dishes, it’s a step up from plain old ketchup. Dip your fries, onion rings, or zucchini fries into it. Stuffed and fried mushrooms are also delicious with a bit of cocktail sauce as well.
There are tons of other ways that you can use cocktail sauce, too. Think of anything that you may use a tomato-based sauce for and you can use it instead. Mix it into (or spread on) your meatloaf, drizzle it over your burger or hot dog, or spread it on a sandwich. You can even use it as a base for your Bloody Mary for brunch.
Chipotle – mince and mix in some peppers to turn up the heat in this cocktail sauce.
Paprika – add some smoked paprika for a unique flavor.
Ginger – grate ginger and mix it in for a different type of spiciness.
Gochujang – give your cocktail sauce some Asian flavor with this Korean chili paste.
You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it for up to a week in the refrigerator. To keep it from being too thick, allow it about 15-20 minutes to come to room temperature.
More Homemade Condiments
Cocktail Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish or more if you like it spicy
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Dash of finely ground black pepper
- Combine the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and pepper.
- Stir well. Sauce can be served immediately or chill for 1 hour for best results.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.