This delicious cocktail sauce can be made in just three minutes and is so much better than the store-bought version.

A bowl of cocktail sauce on plate with cooked shrimp

Why this coastal homemade cocktail sauce recipe? I’m not going to lie to you cocktail sauce is a pretty big deal to me. I am way picky about my cocktail sauce. I have based my favorite places to eat seafood, not just on how good the food is, but also on how good the cocktail sauce is.

With summer in full force, we are eating seafood every chance we get. One of the most readily available choices here where we live now is shrimp. We do have a couple of seafood markets where we can get fresh seafood, and I’m so thankful for that, but it is different than when we were living on the coast of Virginia where Pete and I grew up and raised our family.

A bowl of cocktail sauce on plate with cooked shrimp

What’s the difference between homemade and store-bought?

Umm, everything! I grew up eating this recipe, and it’s the only recipe I have served my family and friends. It’s a favorite to eat with steamed shrimp, scallops, or any of the like. And I’m just betting that if you’re a seafood lover, you’ll love this homemade cocktail sauce too. If you have been buying yours from the store, I can assure you you’ll want to make this homemade version especially once you see how quickly you can whip up a bowl of this with ingredients you probably already have on hand. And the difference will blow you away!

A bowl of cocktail sauce on plate with cooked shrimp

What is in this coastal homemade cocktail sauce?

These ingredients will make you a delicious batch of this homemade recipe.

  • Ketchup
  • Lemon juice
  • Horseradish (prepared) – We like the hot or extra hot one!
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Hot sauce

Keep in mind that you can adjust the horseradish to whatever your palate prefers. You can use the regular, or if you want to kick it up a notch, you can use the hot or extra hot. You can add as much or as little of these as you’d like. You can also use the creamy horseradish which will give your homemade cocktail sauce a creamier texture. I prefer to use the regular one myself.

A bowl of cocktail sauce on plate with cooked shrimp

I know what you’re thinking! No, we don’t eat our shrimp with the shells on! I was just really having fun taking pictures.

A bowl of cocktail sauce on plate with cooked shrimp

If you walk into any southern seafood restaurant on the east coast and order shrimp, calamari, scallops or anything similar, you will have a little side of cocktail sauce on your plate when it comes out. And chances are it’s this recipe. It’s no secret – this cocktail sauce recipe has been around for ages, and it isn’t going anywhere. Often the only difference between restaurants is how much heat it packs. Some places use more horseradish and hot sauce than others. My very favorite seafood restaurants are on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (our favorite haunt) where they serve this style cocktail sauce, and the bigger the heat, the better the taste.

A bowl of cocktail sauce on plate with cooked shrimp

What do I eat with this homemade cocktail sauce?

  • Shrimp (cold or hot)
  • Scallops
  • Calamari
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Oysters
  • Fish, yes even fish
  • Clams

You get the idea! There are so many variations of seafood to pair with the best homemade cocktail sauce ever. You pick and tell me which one is your favorite combo!

And while you’re at it – tell me – are you a seafood lover? If so, how do you like your cocktail sauce? Holler in the comments!

Other recipes you might like to try:

Old Bay® Homemade BBQ Sauce
Restaurant Style Salsa

A bowl of cocktail sauce on plate with cooked shrimp

Coastal Homemade Cocktail Sauce

5 from 3 votes


  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 3 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Horseradish (Prepared)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Hot sauce (Texas Pete, Tabasco)


  • Combine all ingredients until mixed well!
  • Chill
  • Make ahead of time to allow flavors to marry together before serving.


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Disclaimer: Nutritional values (per serving) are approximates only and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

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Steamed shrimp and homemade coastal cocktail sauce on a white plate sitting on a blue and white striped napkin on a white wood board.
Small bowl of homemade coastal cocktail sauce surrounded by steamed shrimp on one side.
Small bowl of homemade coastal cocktail sauce surrounded by steamed shrimp on one side.

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  1. 5 stars
    This looks delicious. I have never made a homemade cocktail sauce, but I am going to try this one. Thank you for sharing at “Love Your Creativity.”

  2. Debbie Brashear says:

    Kim I am from south Texas and I would like to suggest you also try adding chili sauce. Here are the ingredients and recipe I use. I hope you give it a try you will absolutely love it. Just a tad bit better.
    1 cup of ketchup
    1 cup of chili sauce
    1/2 of a lemon, juiced, about 2 tablespoons
    3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (not horseradish cream), or less to taste
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


    Mix all ingredients in a small mixing bowl until well combined.
    Use immediately, or refrigerate until ready to use.

    1. Hi Debbie!
      Thanks for sharing your recipe! I have actually tried it with the chili sauce, and it is really good, but, I have to admit that the recipe above is my very favorite – probably because this is the version I grew up with in the southeastern coastal regions of Virginia and North Carolina. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with either one. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing!

  3. Rebecca Doerr says:

    5 stars
    I wasn’t sure i would like this with the hot sauce but it’s really good! Not too hot

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