One of Martha's favorite entertaining strategies is to serve a pared-down—but still special feeling—menu. Her classic shrimp cocktail is a perfect example: it's an easy but elegant starter that shines because it calls for the very best ingredients—including a quick homemade cocktail sauce. When preparing this spread, use high-quality, sustainably sourced shrimp, and plan on about three to six shrimp per guest.



Cocktail Sauce


Instructions Checklist
  • Shrimp: Cover a rimmed baking sheet with ice (to later cool down shrimp). In a large stockpot combine 12 cups water, carrot, celery, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and peppercorns. Cut one lemon in half; squeeze half the juice into the water and add the rind. Cut remaining 1 1/2 lemons into small wedges for serving; set aside.

  • Bring water to a boil. Add shrimp, cover; remove from heat. Let stand until shrimp are bright pink and curled; 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to prepared tray of ice to cool completely. Once cool, shrimp can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.

  • Cocktail Sauce: Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients until combined. (Cocktail sauce can be made ahead; refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.) 

  • To Serve: Peel shrimp, leaving tails intact if desired. Using a paring knife, make a shallow cut along backs of shrimp to remove vein. Arrange shrimp neatly on a platter, shingling them slightly to make a pattern, and serve chilled with cocktail sauce and reserved lemon wedges on the side.

Reviews (1)

181 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 22
  • 4 star values: 26
  • 3 star values: 69
  • 2 star values: 51
  • 1 star values: 13
Rating: Unrated
I love making these, they give me many compliments at my parties.