Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

4.54 from 83 votes
45 minutes
Jump To Recipe

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, also known as Cóctel de Camarónes, doesn’t resemble an American shrimp cocktail at all.  This cool, elegant version is chock full of crunchy vegetables and shrimp in a spicy, tangy tomato sauce that’s refreshing with just the right amount of heat! Perfect for hot weather dining!

“Fantastic! Tasted like a trip to the Mexican Riviera!” Pinterest Review

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail in glass garnished with lime wedge and shrimp.
 

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

This delicious and refreshing appetizer, Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (Cóctel de Camarónes), is almost like a “salad in a glass,” chock full of crunchy vegetables and shrimp in a spicy, tangy, flavorful tomato-based cocktail sauce. Some might even call it a cold tomato soup similar to gazpacho. What’s not to love?

This recipe for Mexican Shrimp Cocktail combines a recipe from Rick Bayless, known for Mexican cuisine here in the U. S. and my lovely sister-in-law, Alix, who is of Mexican descent.

The combination of Clamato, fresh lime juice and hot sauce gives this Mexican shrimp appetizer, Cóctel de Camarónes, it’s signature and robust seafood flavor. Adding a small amount of ketchup to the cocktail sauce adds depth and a sweet-savory note that helps coat the shrimp.

Why you’ll love this Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe:

  • Flavor: The combination of fresh shrimp, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, onion, tomato, lime juice, and hot sauce creates a complex and delicious flavor with the tomato and clam juice that is both tangy and spicy.
  • Texture: The combination of crunchy vegetables and succulent shrimp creates a delightful contrast that makes every bite enjoyable.
  • It’s healthy!
  • Versatile: Mexican Shrimp Cocktail can be served as an appetizer, a light lunch or dinner, or a snack. It’s also an excellent dish for entertaining. Serve in individual glasses or bowls.
  • Easy to prepare: This dish is easy to make and requires no cooking other than boiling the shrimp. It’s an excellent option for those who want to enjoy a flavorful and nutritious meal without spending too much time in the kitchen.
  • More than 75 4 and 5-star ratings!

Let’s make it!

Three glasses of Mexican Shrimp Cocktail.

How to Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

The ingredients required to make the recipe prepared on the countertop.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Shrimp: The most essential ingredient in a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe! You could use purchased cooked shrimp; however, cooking your own will give you better flavor and texture.  I’m also a stickler for using American wild-caught shrimp in all of my shrimp dishes.  None of that funky farmed stuff for me!
  • White Onion: White onions are slightly sweeter and milder than yellow onions. White onions have a high water content, making their flesh crisp. They’re a good choice for serving raw. Red onions may also be used.
  • Jicama: Jicama is a globe-shaped root vegetable with papery, golden-brown skin and a starchy white interior. The carbs, however, don’t have a high glycemic load, according to Web MD. The flesh is refreshing and crisp with a mildly sweet and nutty taste. Add cucumber and onion if you don’t wish to buy or use it (because you’ll have some leftovers).
  • Tomatoes: Use plum or Roma tomatoes which are less watery than round tomatoes.
  • Lime Juice: Fresh is always best! Purchased lime juice from concentrate won’t have the same punch as freshly squeezed lime juice.
  • Hot Sauce: Use an authentic Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula.
  • Clamato Juice: This briny drink blends tomato juice, clam juice, spices, sugar and often MSG. (If that concerns you, substitute 1 cup tomato or vegetable juice and 1/2 cup clam juice instead of bottled Clamato.) Clamato juice is most commonly used in cocktails. Use regular or Picante.
  • Jalapeno / Serrano Peppers: Optional, so not shown.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients for the Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe.
  • Cut the onion in half. Dice half of the onion and cut the other half into large chunks. Reserve the chunks for cooking the shrimp.
  • Place the diced onion portion in a sieve. Run the onion under cold tap water for 30 seconds; drain and set aside.
Onions in sieve set over glass bowl.
  • COOK THE SHRIMP: Fill a saucepan with water.
  • Add the onion chunks, garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil.
Chunks of onions, salt and pepper in stainless steel saucepan.
  • Add shrimp, turn off the heat, and let the shrimp sit in the water for 1 minute or until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Drain and let the shrimp cool. Discard onion and garlic.
Cooked shrimp in hot water with onions in stainless steel saucepan.
  • Pick out the shrimp with the intact tails and set it aside to use for the garnish.
  • If your shrimp is large, cut them in half through the middle to make them easier to eat.
Two bowls of cooked shrimp: One with tails removed and the other with tails.
  • Make the cocktail sauce. Combine Clamato, ketchup, lime juice and hot sauce in a small bowl.
Cocktail sauce in glass bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine diced onion, jicama, cucumber, tomato, avocado, jalapeno or serrano (if using) and cilantro.
  • Add the shrimp.
  • Scoop into large, wide-rimmed glasses.
Shrimp added to vegetables in glass bowl.
  • Pour the cocktail sauce evenly over the shrimp and vegetables.
  • Garnish each glass with one of the whole shrimp with the tail still intact, a lime wedge and cilantro sprigs.
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail in glass garnished with lime wedge and shrimp.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • The easiest way I have found to peel and devein shrimp is:
    • Cut through the top of the shell, starting at the wide end with kitchen shears.
    • Cut all the shrimp in this manner at once so you don’t have to keep setting your scissors down.
    • Peel and remove the vein (intestine) under a trickle of cold water.
  • If your shrimp is large, cut them in half through the middle to make them easier for your guests to eat.
Three glasses of Mexican Shrimp Cocktail garnished with lime wedges.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between a ceviche and a shrimp cocktail?

Although both are served cold, ceviche always starts with raw fish or seafood and is then “cooked” with an acid like lime or lemon juice. A shrimp cocktail is made with cooked shrimp.

Can I make a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail ahead of time?

Yes! Cook the shrimp, cool and refrigerate. Dice the cucumber, jicama, tomato, jalapeno and onion, combine in a bowl, and refrigerate. Combine sauce ingredients and refrigerate. When ready to serve, dice avocado, combine with remaining ingredients, portion into serving glasses, pour the cocktail sauce over, garnish and serve.

Is Mexican Shrimp Cocktail healthy?

It is but with some modifications. Use low-sodium tomato or vegetable juice because Clamato juice is high in sodium. Use low-sodium ketchup and skip the salt when cooking the shrimp. All the other vegetables add vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. The avocado adds healthy fat in the form of monounsaturated fat.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail in glass garnished with lime wedge and shrimp.

Storage:

  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator and enjoy them within 1 to 2 days.

Serve Cóctel de Camarónes as an appetizer for:

More great shrimp appetizer recipes you’ll love!

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Mexican Shrimp Cocktail in glass garnished with lime wedge and shrimp.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

4.54 from 83 votes

Click to Rate!

By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, otherwise known as Cóctel de Camarónes, doesn't resemble an American shrimp cocktail at all.  This cool, elegant version is chock full of crunchy vegetables and shrimp in a spicy, tangy tomato sauce that's refreshing with just the right amount of heat! Perfect for hot weather dining!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Appetizers and Snacks
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 332 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium white onion
  • 6 large cloves garlic - coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons salt - plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp - 31-35 count, peeled, deveined and tails removed except for 4 to go on top as garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups Clamato juice - chilled
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice - or to taste
  • Hot sauce - preferably Mexican, to taste
  • 1/2 small jicama - peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 large English cucumber - seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium plum tomato - seeded and chopped
  • 2 medium avocados - or 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno or serrano pepper - optional, seeded if desired, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro - loosely packed
  • Lime wedges - for serving
  • Cilantro sprigs - for serving

Instructions
 

  • Cut the onion in half. Dice half of the onion and cut the other half into large chunks. Reserve the chunks for cooking the shrimp. Place the diced onion portion in a sieve. Run the onion under cold tap water for 30 seconds; drain and set aside.
  • COOK THE SHRIMP: Fill a saucepan with water. Add the onion chunks, garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp, turn off the heat and let sit for 1 minute or until shrimp are pink and cooked through.
  • Drain and let the shrimp cool. Discard onion and garlic. Pick out the shrimp with intact tails and set aside for the garnish. If your shrimp is large, cut them in half through the middle to make them easier to eat.
  • Combine Clamato, ketchup, lime juice and hot sauce in a small bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine diced onion, jicama, cucumber, tomato, avocado, jalapeno or serrano (if using) and cilantro. Fold in the shrimp.
  • Scoop into large, wide-rimmed glasses.
  • Pour dressing over the shrimp and vegetable combination.
  • Serve garnished with a lime wedge and cilantro sprigs.

VIDEO

Notes

If your shrimp is large, cut them in half through the middle to make eating easier.
SUBSTITUTIONS:
  • Use 1 cup tomato juice and 1/2 cup clam juice instead of the Clamato juice.
  • Use 3/4 cup ketchup and 3/4 cup clam juice instead of the Clamato juice.
  • Use the whole cucumber and celery to replace the jicama.
MAKE AHEAD:  Cook shrimp, cool and refrigerate. Dice cucumber, jicama, tomato, jalapeno and onion and combine in a bowl and refrigerate. Combine sauce ingredients and refrigerate. When ready to serve, dice avocado, combine with remaining ingredients, portion into serving glasses, garnish and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 183mg | Sodium: 3715mg | Potassium: 1298mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1096IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 136mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




28 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is fantastic. One person commented to replace clam juice with Clematis. What is Clematis?

    1. Hi, Marji, Thanks so much for your question. I reviewed that comment and what they meant was Clamato, which you can find in the bottled juice area. Thanks again and soooo happy you enjoyed!

    1. Hi, Gillian, Thanks so much for checking back! With the holidays and all it totally slipped my evermore feeble mind but here is her input:

      ========
      Your recipe looks really delicious and most of it is spot on. Here are some variations we would use:
      –Red onions to add a bit of color.
      –Same with pepper: Jalapeños or Serrano based on how hot you want it.
      –We use regular cucumber. It’s plentiful and cheap around here.
      –Your ‘cocktail’ sauce sounds good. We make it with tomato juice and add some finely chopped tomatoes and add Cholula or Tabasco to taste.
      –All the rest, garlic, salt, pepper, freshly squeezed lime juice (you are right it’s the BEST), and finely chopped cilantro to add.

      Oh, and the diced avocado…can’t forget that!
      ========

    1. Hi, Jim, Thanks much for your question. Keep in mind I posted this recipe in 2015. I did a little online research, and it appears the app I mentioned is no longer active but may have morphed into something the Food Network offers. Not totally sure but that’s how it looks. Looks like I may need to update this post! Thanks again!

    1. Hi, Ellie, Thanks so much for your question. I’m hoping to have the ability to resize recipes in my recipe card in the future. For now, may I suggest using an online recipe converter such as this one? https://www.webstaurantstore.com/recipe_resizer.html

      Since this recipe feeds four, you’d want to at least double it but you wouldn’t need to use 4 tablespoons of salt or 2 tablespoons of pepper; the original amount should suffice for cooking the shrimp. Instead of half of a whole small jicama, use 1 medium or large jicama. Instead of half of a large cucumber, a whole large cucumber, large avocados, etc. Adding more shrimp may get you to the ten servings. The diced vegetable part of the cocktail is pretty forgiving; a little more of something and less of something else shouldn’t affect it that much.

      Thanks so much and hope everyone enjoys!

      1. I’d like to say this recipe is awesome…but it is not authentic💖 Switch ketchup for cocktail sauce..and clam juice for Clamato. Splash of Coca-cola, and juice of an orange🙏💖

      2. Hi, Sandra, Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed! My sister-in-law is Mexican so I’d love to combine your input with hers so we all end up with a really killer recipe! Thanks again!

      3. Great reply Carol! I can’t wait to try this original recipe and with Sandra’s substitutes!

  2. I’m very excited to make this yummy appetizer. My Margarita glass hold 8oz. is that the size in the photograph? I’m having 5 guest and I want to make sure there’s enough.

      1. Thanks Carol for getting right back to me, One more question, Will one recipe fill 6. 8oz Margarita glasses or should I make a recipe and a half?

      2. Hi, Ellen, I reviewed and clarified the recipe. I noticed I had not included the “count” of shrimp per pound. I generally use 16-20 count for most recipes, so to be generous with six people, I think you would want to do a recipe and a half. I also updated the number of servings to four to match the count per pound. Thanks so much and I hope everyone enjoys!

  3. Do you suggest to cook the shrimp or already cooked shrimp. I am making for a party of 15 ppl. How many servings do you actually think I should make,

    1. Hi, Lisa, Thanks so much for your question. I prefer to cook shrimp myself. I find the precooked shrimp to be a little overcooked. By cooking the shrimp yourself, you can flavor it in the process by adding onion, garlic, a little lime juice, salt, pepper, etc. It will depend on what you’re serving but for 15 people, I would allow at 4 large shrimp per person. Thanks again and hope everyone enjoys!

  4. 5 stars
    We love this recipe! Have made it several times now and always love it. I now add coarsely chopped radishes, one stalk celery chopped fine, two Roma tomatoes diced, 3 or 4 green onions sliced fine to all the other ingredients and it is great. I found that it works better for us if we cut the shrimp in half or thirds if extra large. It is a very delicious filling meal. Leftovers are great covered in an airtight container.

    1. Thanks so much, Hazel! So glad you all enjoy and it’s become one of your keepers. I love the little changes you made to make it your own. Thanks again and please stay in touch!

  5. Kudos to Rick Bayless on this recipe, Being from San Antonio, Tx & Rockport, Tx, on the Gulf Coast only a short drive , fresh seafood is readily available, I add fresh oysters, use green onions, finely chopped including most of the green stems, 1 jar of Traders Joes seafood cocktail sauce & same amount of quality ketchup. 1 fresh diced small Roma tomato without meat or seeds, 1/2 tsp. Tarragon. add small amount of oyster liqueur and shrimp stock from cooking shrimp with heads on and shells intack for added flavor. Secret ingredient(no longer a secret) is a tsp or more of Spanish Liqueur “43” and same amount of Giola Luisa orange cello liqueur from Italy. In south Texas this cocktail is called, “Campechana”. What a heck of a shrimp/oyster cocktail!