Coctel de Camarones , also known as Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, is not the same as American shrimp cocktail. This recipe is more like a “salad in a glass!” It has cooked shrimp in a spicy, tangy, and chunky vegetable salsa that is ready in just 15 minutes. Eat by the spoonful or with some tortilla chips as an appetizer or quick lunch.
If you buy the shrimp already cleaned and cooked, you will just have to chop the veggies for the salsa (or perhaps peel the cooked shrimp and remove the tail if mixing in the salsa). What that means is, there is NO cooking time, making this dish perfect for summer.
It is so simple to put together and has such great fresh flavors that you will come back for seconds. Depending on the occasion or course, you can serve it in shot glasses as an appetizer for easy entertaining or you can enjoy it in cocktail glasses for a quick lunch.
It’s so versatile and you can have it ready in just 15 minutes. That’s right!
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Recipe
Also known as prawn cocktail in English and as Cóctel de Camarón or Cóctel de Camarones in Spanish, this is a simple and fresh appetizer or quick lunch.
Our recipe has been adapted from an authority in Mexican cuisine, who is Maggie Unzueta from In Mama Maggie’s Kitchen.
According to her, the dish reminds her of Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe located in Baja California, known for its beaches, wine, and great seafood.
However, according to Wikipedia, a prawn cocktail can be credited to a British television chef, Fanny Cradock, in the 1960s, while other chefs believe that it has a direct lineage to the renowned French Chef Auguste Escoffier.
What's for certain is that a dish of cooked seafood with a spicy sauce of some kind is actually of ancient origin -- and many variations exist in other places besides Mexico, the United States, and Great Britain.
Shrimp Cocktail Ingredients
Our coctel de camarones consists of chopped onion, tomato, avocado, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapeno mixed with lime juice, ketchup, tomato juice, salt, and pepper. Of course, shrimp is also one of the ingredients. However, depending on how you serve the dish, you can either mix it with the other ingredients or you can serve it on the rim of the glass.
I used large shrimp (cleaned, cooked, and peeled) but you can use medium to jumbo size. Medium size is better for mixing the shrimp in with the salsa, but if serving around the rim of the glass or on a platter, go for jumbo shrimp.
Moreover, remove the shrimp tail if mixing it in the salsa, but leave the tail on if serving rimmed because itwill be easier to pick up.
For a spicier dish, also add 1-2 teaspoons of hot sauce.
Cucumber is also optional but adds extra freshness and more texture to the salsa.
Ketchup adds sweetness and a thickness to the salsa, but you can omit it if you prefer a lighter texture.
Mexicans usually use Clamato (tomato juice). But you can make your own without any added sugar by mixing ½ cup of tomato sauce with 1 cup of water.
Please, do NOT use lime juice from concentrate. Fresh lime juice has a much better flavor!
If you are not a big fan of onions, tame its bite by placing the chopped veggie in a sieve and rinsing it briefly under cold running water. Shake to remove excess water!
Can I use frozen shrimp?
Yes, but make sure to buy it cleaned (deveined or without the digestive tract) and peeled – with the tail on or off, depending on how you will serve it.
To start, if you are asking whether we make this shrimp cocktail with clamato, the answer is no, but you can make yours with it for sure.
There are variations of the sauce depending on the location. It’s commonly made of ketchup and mayonnaise in Commonwealth countries or with ketchup and horseradish in the United States.
Some recipes may add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and/or lemon juice. You may also substitute clams or oysters for shrimp.
However, the Mexican version consists of a chunky salsa made with chopped onion, tomato, cucumber (optional), jalapeno, cilantro, and avocado mixed with lime juice, ketchup, tomato juice, salt, and pepper.
Be aware that Mexico and English-speaking countries differ not only in ingredients but also in texture (The Mexican sauce is chunky while in other countries it is creamy and thick).
Is Cocktail Sauce Keto?
It can be if you use a sugar-free ketchup and tomato sauce. The rest of the ingredients in our recipe are keto-friendly for sure.
Cooking shrimp for shrimp cocktail
It is a very simple process! Just bring water to a boil in a large pot. Drop shrimp in boiling water and boil until the shrimp curl into a loose ‘C’ shape. The cooking time depends on the size of the shrimp. I used jumbo shrimp for our Mexican shrimp cocktail – they take about 3-4 minutes to cook and take on a pinkish color.
Then, drain and transfer shrimp into a bowl with ice (recommended) or run under cold water in a colander.
Of course, you can buy it already cleaned, cooked, and peeled, saving you time.
Best Shrimp Sizes for Coctel de Camarones
Medium to jumbo size shrimp are the best for the dish. What determines the size is how you plan to serve it. The smaller the glass, the smaller size shrimp that one should use.
In addition, it depends on whether you're serving the shrimp 1) already mixed with the salsa or to eat by the spoonful, in which case smaller sizes are better (otherwise you’ll have to chop the large shrimp) or 2) rimmed on the glass, in which case large size is perfect for easier handling).
Tips for peeling and deveining shrimp
- Using kitchen shears, cut through the top of the shell, starting at the wide end.
- Peel by hand and remove the vein (intestine) with the tip of a paring knife and then run under running water.
Differences between ceviche and coctel de camarones
- Ceviche is seafood (often fish or shrimp) that is “cooked” in lime juice. It marinates for hours or even overnight in the fridge before serving.
- Coctel de Camarones (Mexican shrimp cocktail) is made of boiled shrimp. Serve it mixed in the salsa (the usual way) or rimmed on a glass. It is ready to eat after chilling (it’s ready in much less time than ceviche).
How to Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (Cóctel de Camarónes)
- In a large bowl, mix the onion with the fresh lime juice. Let stand for 10 minutes. SEE PIC. 1. TIP: You may rinse the chopped onion in a sieve under cold running water and then shake well in order to lessen its bite if you are not a fan of onion.
- Next, mix in the tomato juice, ketchup, hot pepper sauce (optional), salt, and pepper. Then just add the cooked shrimp (only if serving mixed with the salsa to eat by the spoonful), tomatoes, cucumber, and jalapeño. Mix to combine and reserve. SEE PIC. 2
- I like to gently mix in the cilantro and avocado right before serving. SEE PIC. 3 But if you prefer to mix them before chilling in the fridge, make sure to cover the coctel de camarones very well to delay oxidation of the avocado.
- Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Enjoy! If you prefer, serve the shrimp rimmed on a glass instead so that you can enjoy dipping them in the salsa and scooping them and the salsa up with tortilla chips.
How To Eat Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Mexicans mix the cooked shrimp with the cocktail sauce altogether and place the mixture in a cocktail glass to eat by the spoonful and/or with tortilla chips.
My personal favorite way to enjoy it is to dip the shrimp into the salsa (just like in a regular shrimp cocktail with a creamy tomato sauce) and then scoop up the chunky Mexican salsa with tortilla chips.
How to store prawn cocktail
Store this Mexican shrimp cocktail in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Do not freeze!
Be aware that the avocado may brown a little bit!
More Mexican recipes
- Mexican pickled red onions
- Spicy shrimp tacos
- Shrimp a la diabla
- Mexican carne asada marinade
- Carne asada tacos
More shrimp recipes
PIN & ENJOY!
Coctel de Camarones (Mexican Shrimp Cocktail Recipe)
- Glasses or platter
- ¼ cup white onion finely chopped
- 3 limes or about ¼ cup fresh lime juice (please do NOT use concentrate juice)
- 1 ½ cups tomato juice for a keto dish, use one without added sugar. You can make your own by mixing 1 cup of water with ½ cup of tomato sauce 1 cup ketchup, for a keto dish use one without added sugar
- 2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce OPTIONAL. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, omit it
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb cooked shrimp peeled, deveined, and tail on or off depending on how you serve the shrimp. Use medium-size shrimp (tail off) if mixing it with the salsa. But use large shrimp (tail on) if serving rimmed on a shot glass or jumbo (tail on) if rimmed on a cocktail glass or when placing it on a platter. SEE NOTES on how to cook shrimp at home.
- 2 tomatoes finely diced
- 1 cucumber peeled and finely diced (OPTIONAL), but recommended
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced (use 2 for a spicier salsa)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 small avocados peeled and diced
- In a large bowl, mix the onion with the fresh lime juice. Let stand for 10 minutes. TIP: You may rinse the chopped onion in a sieve under cold running water and then shake well in order to remove its bite if you are not a fan of onion.
- Next, mix in the tomato juice, ketchup, hot pepper sauce (optional), salt, and pepper. Then just add the cooked shrimp (only if serving mixed with the salsa to eat by the spoonful), tomatoes, cucumber, and jalapeño. Mix to combine and reserve.
- I like to gently mix in the cilantro and avocados right before serving. But if you prefer to mix them before chilling in the fridge, make sure to cover the dish very well to delay oxidation of the avocado.
- Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Enjoy! If you prefer, serve the shrimp rimmed on a glass instead, so that you can dip it in the salsa and scoop the shrimp and salsa up with tortilla chips.
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