Shrimp Cocktail (Coctel de Camarones) (Tested)

Serves     6-8


Mexican shrimp cocktail, made from poached shrimp tossed in a flavorful sauce of ketchup, onion, cilantro, and citrus juice, is a wonderful cold summer dish. But it’s often too sweet, thanks in large part to all that ketchup. This version strikes a slightly less saccharine note by replacing some of the ketchup with tomato puree, and it’s spot-on perfect now.


2 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined (15-20 size large,

or 21-25 size medium)

2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

½ tsp. baking soda

6 tbsp. fresh lime juice, from about 8 limes, divided

1 cup diced white onion (about 1/2 large onion)

¾ cup tomato puree

½ cup ketchup

3 tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded, and finely diced

Saltines, for serving

Diced avocado, for garnish

Mexican-style hot sauce, such as Tapatío, for serving


In a large bowl, toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the baking soda until evenly coated. Transfer to the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons lime juice with onion, tomato puree, ketchup, cilantro, orange juice, and jalapeño.


In a medium pot, combine 2 quarts cold water with remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons salt. Add shrimp, set over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches 170°F on an instant-read thermometer and shrimp are just cooked through; adjust heat to make sure temperature does not go over 170°F.


Drain shrimp carefully, rinse under cold running water, then drain well. Cut shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces. Add shrimp to bowl with sauce and toss to combine. Top with avocado and serve immediately with saltines and hot sauce.


Tips and Instructions from the Serious Eats team

Starting the shrimp in cold water and then heating it to no more than 170 degrees produces the plumpest, juiciest shrimp. A quick dry brine of salt and baking soda makes the shrimp even plumper and more tender.


Notes and Instructions

Recipe and photo credit with permission from Daniel Gritzer: