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Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (Coctel de Camarones) is an elegant, chilled appetizer of tender shrimp, fresh tomato, cucumber, avocado, red onion and cilantro in a lightly spicy tomato based sauce. It’s a beautiful way to begin a meal.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail served in small, clear glasses.

Shrimp takes center stage in this appetizer, first gently poached in water seasoned with fresh lemon, cilantro stems, black peppercorns and salt then steeped in sauce full of complex flavors and textures. Cucumber and red onion add crunch, while ketchup and Worcestershire sauce add sweetness and depth. Lemon juice adds brightness and hot sauce adds a hint of spicy kick. Creamy avocado is stirred in just before serving. Think of it as a fiesta for your tastebuds!

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Ingredients

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Shrimp: medium shrimp with the shell on
  • Lemon: one for poaching shrimp and optionally another for fresh lemon juice in the sauce
  • Black Peppercorns 
  • Fresh Cilantro 
  • Tomatoes: such as Roma tomatoes for easy dicing
  • Cucumber: peeled cucumber or English cucumber (no need to peel)
  • Red Onion: or shallot for a milder onion flavor
  • Vegetable Juice: such as V8 or RW Knudsen brand (what I used)
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Ketchup: ideally without high fructose corn syrup
  • Fresh Lime Juice: 
  • Hot Sauce: such as Cholula brand
  • Avocado
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper 
  • Tortilla Chips: for serving, optional

FAQ

What is Mexican Shrimp Cocktail made of?

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is a combination of cooked shrimp, vegetables like tomato, cucumber and onion in a spicy, tomato based sauce. It shouldn’t be confused with prawn cocktail or shrimp cocktail that is simply shelled cooked prawns or shrimp served with cocktail sauce.

What’s the difference between Mexican shrimp cocktail and ceviche?

While ceviche starts with raw shrimp (or other seafood) or fish, Mexican shrimp cocktail is made with cooked shrimp.

Why make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail with V8 or other vegetable juice?

Instead of using Clamato, with ingredients like MSG and added color,  I’ve opted instead for vegetable juice (like V8) spiked with a splash of Worcestershire sauce. You could also add a hearty splash of clam juice if you happen to have it on hand, but the flavors in this recipe are bold and complex enough without it.

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How to Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

In a medium pot bring 2 quarts water, lemon wedges, peppercorns, kosher salt and reserved cilantro stems to boil over medium-high heat. Add deveined shrimp in shell and cover; remove from heat and let stand 3 minutes, until shrimp is just cooked through. Transfer with slotted spoon to ice bath. Let shrimp stand in ice bath 3 minutes; remove and peel shrimp including tails.

While shrimp cooks, combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, vegetable juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, ketchup, lime juice, water and hot sauce in a medium bowl. Add cooked, peeled shrimp and stir to combine; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

To serve, remove shrimp cocktail from refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. Stir in avocado and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in 4 individual glasses with tortilla chips and lime wedges if desired.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail served in small, clear glasses.

Recipe Video

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

5 from 6 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 248
Servings: 4 people
An elegant, chilled appetizer with plump, flavorful shrimp, fresh tomato, cucumber and avocado in a lightly spicy tomato based sauce.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound medium shrimp shell on
  • 1 lemon cut in to wedges (recipe note #1)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves stems reserved
  • 2 medium tomatoes cored and diced
  • 1 small cucumber peeled and diced
  • 1/2 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable juice such as V8
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice ideally fresh
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce such as Cholula
  • 1 small avocado halved, pitted and diced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • tortilla chips for serving

Instructions 

  • With kitchen shears, cut through shells along the backs of the shrimp lengthwise, just deep enough to expose veins. Remove veins with the tip of a pairing knife. (See recipe note #2 for other deveining options)
  • In a medium bowl, prepare an ice bath for shrimp.
  • To a medium pot add 2 quarts water, lemon wedges (squeeze juice out into pot as well as adding wedges), peppercorns, kosher salt and reserved cilantro stems; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cover; remove from heat and let stand 3 minutes, until just cooked through. Transfer with slotted spoon to ice bath. Let shrimp stand in ice bath 3 minutes; remove and peel shrimp including tails.
  • Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, vegetable juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, ketchup, lime juice, water and hot sauce. Add cooked, peeled shrimp and stir to combine; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to serve, remove shrimp cocktail from refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. Stir in avocado and cilantro; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in 4 individual cocktail glasses or goblets with tortilla chips and lime wedges if desired.

Notes

  1. If you want fresh lemon juice for the sauce, you’ll need a second lemon.
  2. The method I’ve described for deveining shrimp before poaching is my preference, but you have other options. You can peel and devein the cooked shrimp after you remove them from the ice bath; buy shell-on shrimp that have the backs split and the vein removed (Costco sells frozen wild shrimp that are prepared this way.), or skip deveining as many recipes instruct (you may end up with a little bit of grit in your shrimp, but then again you may not!).
  3. Note that nutrition information does not include tortilla chips.

Nutrition

Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 183mg | Sodium: 2256mg | Potassium: 1022mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1249IU | Vitamin C: 54mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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18 Comments

  1. WAYNE RICHARDSON says:

    5 stars
    Great easy recipe.
    Very delicious
    I added some celery for more crunch

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      So glad you enjoyed this and that you added your own touch, Wayne!

  2. Melisa says:

    5 stars
    Reminded me of my time in El Paso and Mexico . It was delicious and refreshing. I added jalapeno for a kick and it was perfect. Thank you.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Melisa! So glad you enjoyed this and made it your own.

  3. Patricia Jones says:

    Absolutely fantastic recipe. I made this for my Sister, a first time for both of us. Wow at 70 and 75 we couldn’t believe we had never tried anything like this before. Easy and delicious. Another reviewer suggested a “touch of vodka”…oh yeah! Thank you.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I’m so glad to hear that you and your sister enjoyed this, Patricia!

  4. Greg says:

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe! Great photos, Marissa. Thank you.
    The only thing I can think of that could also be included is chopped celery.
    I’m living in Mexico right now and the prices for these “coctel de camarón” are pretty high- around 200 pesos, which is $10.00 USD (+/-) at the restaurants nearby.
    So, I am going to buy all the ingredients and prepare them myself.
    Saludos!
    🥑🍤🥑

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Oh wow, a great reason to make you own. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Greg!