Coctel de Camarones (also known as Mexican Shrimp Cocktail) is a delightful all year-round dish. Cooked shrimp, punchy bites of red onion, jalapeño, and chunks of creamy avocado are added to a zingy tomato juice. Serve cold with some saltine crackers for a classic Mexican appetizer.

mexican shrimp coctel de camarones in a glass on a rectangular black plate with saltines   

Whether you make this spicy shrimp cocktail for football parties, the holidays, or even as a refreshing summer meal, you’re sure to love this family favorite! Serve as an easy appetizer or a healthy lunch.

About This Recipe

My mom used to sell her Mexican shrimp cocktail at our family grocery store, Soza’s Grocery. She would make it daily and sold it in clear plastic cups with a side of saltine crackers, with a bottle of Tabasco on the counter for customers to spice up their own cup. It was a barrio (neighborhood) favorite!

The spicy cocktail sauce is made with freshly chopped red onions, cilantro, and avocados, making it feel almost like a salsa.

This recipe is always on the menu for Super Bowl, New Years Eve, and Christmas, but perfect for these dog days of summer. It is bright, refreshing, and – perhaps most importantly – no-cook and served cold. It is everything I want out of a summer meal!

I also love how simple this coctel de camarones recipe is to prepare. Purchase pre-cooked shrimp and the rest of the recipe only takes about 15 minutes to throw together! Even though it is easy enough to make for a WFH (work from home) lunch, it is also tasty enough to serve to company. 

If you want to serve this for a fiesta, you can double, triple, or quadruple the recipe. Scroll down to recipe card and change the “yield” and it will calculate servings for you.

The end result is a festive, fresh, colorful, and elegant dish that you’re going to want to make all year long. Now let’s get (not) cooking!

flat lay shot of horseradish, ketchup, v8, and other ingredients for mexican shrimp cocktail

How to Make Spicy Shrimp Cocktail

Stir together the ketchup, vegetable juice, horseradish, fresh lime juice, hot sauce, and garlic powder until well combined. Taste and add more spice if you prefer.

Add the onion, jalapeño (if using), cilantro, and shrimp and mix well. Gently stir in the avocado.

blue square bowl with shrimp in tomato sauce with corners of cilantro, avocado chunks, red onion and chiles that haven't been stirred in yet

Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

completed coctel de camarones in a rectangular blue and white serving bowl

How to serve

I usually serve Mexican shrimp cocktail in a large serving bowl or punch bowl and let everyone serve themselves. Serve in a large goblet as an entree or  in a margarita glass as an appetizer. Serve with saltine crackers or corn tortilla chips. Watch this video to see how easy this Mexican shrimp cocktail is to make.

Variations & Substitutions

If you like more crunch in your shrimp cocktail feel free to add more chopped veggies, such as cucumber, celery, jicama, sweet bell peppers, or tomatoes.

If you like a sweet shrimp cocktail, add some chunks of mango or peaches.

If you like like it mild or spicier, just adjust the amount of horseradish, jalapeño, and hot sauce. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this ahead of time?

Absolutely! It will last, assembled, for about 2 days in the refrigerator. If you omit adding the avocado, it will last for up to 3 days! Just stir them in before serving. If it starts to smell overly fishy, discard it immediately.

What is the difference between ceviche and Mexican shrimp cocktail?

While many of the ingredients are the same – shrimp, onion, cilantro, chiles – there are a few differences between these two classic Mexican seafood dishes. First, ceviche requires that the shrimp or seafood is raw and cured (or “cooked”) in citrus juices, whereas this coctel is made with cooked shrimp.

In this recipe, the cooked shrimp are tossed in a tangy and spicy tomato-based sauce, whereas with ceviche the shrimp are only lightly dressed in citrus juice.

What are the best shrimp to use?

I recommend that you avoid cocktail shrimp, as they are simply too small to stand up to the chunks of avocado and onion in this recipe. Stick to medium to large sized shrimp that have been peeled, deveined, and cooked.

How should the shrimp be prepared?

Traditionally, medium to large sized shrimp would be poached (slowly cooked in water and salt), my suggestion is to purchase pre-cooked shrimp to make this recipe easy. If cooking shrimp, simply salt 5 cups on water (like the sea) and bring to a boil and add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in boiling water for 2 minutes or until they turn pink. Drain and transfer shrimp to a bowl of ice water and set aside. Discard poaching liquid.

Other Yummy Shrimp Recipes

If you tried my recipe for Coctel de Camarones (Mexican Shrimp Cocktail), please be sure to let me know how it turned out by rating and reviewing it below!

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single serving of coctel de camarones on a black serving plate with a pile of saltines

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

5 (5 ratings)
This shrimp cocktail with a spicy cocktail sauce made with freshly chopped red onions, cilantro, and avocados is the perfect light and easy appetizer or healthy lunch, especially during hot months.

Ingredients

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable juice, recommend V8
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons horseradish, (add more or less according to spicy tolerance)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon bottled hot sauce, recommend Tabasco
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 pound medium to large shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cooked
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • Saltine crackers or tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions 

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail:

  • Stir together the ketchup, vegetable juice, horseradish, lime juice, hot sauce, and garlic powder until well combined. Taste and add more chile or hot sauce if you would like it spicier.
  • Add the onion, jalapeno (if using), cilantro, and shrimp and mix well. Gently stir in the avocado.
  • Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.
  • Serve in 4-ounce glasses with saltine crackers or corn tortilla chips.

Video

Notes

  • If cooking shrimp, simply salt 5 cups water (like the sea) and bring to a boil and add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in boiling water for 2 minutes or until they turn pink. Drain and transfer shrimp to a bowl of ice water and set aside.
  • Traditionally this shrimp cocktail is served with saltine crackers.
  • Refrigerate this shrimp cocktail for up to 2 days. If it starts to smell overly fishy, discard it immediately.
  • Nutrition facts only include Shrimp Cocktail, no crackers/chips.
Calories: 252kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 286mg, Sodium: 1328mg, Potassium: 630mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 1076IU, Vitamin C: 41mg, Calcium: 190mg, Iron: 3mg