This Mexican shrimp cocktail is so delicious and flavorful. It has a spicy habanero sauce that will make your taste buds very happy! The Mexican shrimp cocktail recipe that I am about to share with you is one of my favorite dishes because it is easy to make but tastes incredible!
When you grow up in a seaport city, you know that seafood is going to be a big part of your life, and more so if you happen to live between the Navy Yard and a seafood packing warehouse. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t like eating fish and seafood as a child! I thought we ate it a little too often, especially that summer that my older brother took a job next door at the seafood warehouse.
Almost every other day, he would come home from work carrying a big bucket of shrimp. Fried shrimp, steamed shrimp, garlic shrimp, shrimp in sauce, shrimp cocktails, shrimp with rice… my mom made it all. I felt like I was Bubba from Forrest Gump!
I was eager for classes to start again, that way my brother could go back to high school and we could finally take a break from all that shrimp.
How I Learned To Love And Appreciate Seafood
My hatred of seafood changed over time, however, when I moved to Southern Mexico. There, I was introduced to the ways people from the Yucatan Peninsula prepare and spice up their dishes, including their use of the famous habanero pepper.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, then I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love hot sauces, and you might’ve also seen some of the habanero recipes, too. The combination of seafood with habanero peppers takes me back to the city of Chetumal in the State of Quintana Roo and brings back memories of the blue sea and the white beaches.
And of course, of the seafood.
Where To Find Seafood Cocktails In Mexico
The shrimp and clam cocktails are among the most famous seafood cocktails found in Mexican restaurants. You can also find shrimp and clam together in a mixed cocktail!
The shrimp is usually prepared raw and marinated with lime juice, or a mix of lime juice and orange juice.
For the sauce, there are some slight variations that use diced tomatoes and other types of peppers, according to the region.
For today's recipe, I will be showing you how to make an authentic Mexican shrimp cocktail using ingredients you can easily find at your local latin grocery store.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shrimp Cocktails
Before I share my recipe, here are a few questions I've been asked and wanted to answer.
What's the difference between ceviche and shrimp cocktails?
Ceviche is typically made with raw, marinated fish. Mexican shrimp cocktail will have cooked and peeled shrimp.
If you are looking for more of a ceviche recipe, I highly recommend taking a look at this recipe for ceviche verde. It's one of my favorites!
Is the cocktail shrimp cooked or raw?
For this specific recipe, we are starting out with raw shrimp but will boil the shrimp before using.
Can I use cooked shrimp instead of raw shrimp?
Yes! If you prefer to use already cooked and peeled shrimp for this recipe, use 1 pound of already-cooked shrimp and one bottle of clam juice to substitute for the shrimp broth.
How do I properly clean the raw shrimp?
Start out by:
- Rinsing the shrimp in a colander under cool running water.
- Remove its shell and tails. It is easier to peel the shrimp starting from the underside, by the swimming legs. The shells come off very easily that way.
- With the help of a paring knife, devein the shrimp, making a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp. Remove the exposed vein and wipe the knife blade with a paper towel.
What other type of seafood can I use in place of shrimp for this Mexican cocktail?
There are many different types of seafood that can be used in Mexican shrimp cocktail. You could try:
- Sautéed scallops, crab or lobster meat instead of shrimp;
- Anchovies or clams for a more Mexican flavor profile;
- Or, even canned tuna to make it extra filling!
How long does a Mexican shrimp cocktail last?
The recipe for the shrimp cocktail will keep fresh and edible for up to two days after you prepared it. Just make sure to properly store it an air-tight container in the fridge.
Authentic Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
This delicious cocktail recipe is very easy to make at home.
Here's what you need:
- Raw shrimp (heads off)
- Garlic cloves
- Bay leaf
- Fresh thyme
- Habanero Sauce
- Lime juice
- Shrimp cooking broth (from boiling the srhimp)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red onion
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!
How To Make Mexican Shrimp Cocktail: Step By Step Tutorial
To make things easier for you, I am going to break down the directions to this recipe into sections.
Note: Before you start doing anything, make sure to clean the shrimp per the instructions listed above.
Boil The Shrimp
- Start boiling 6 cups of water in a large stockpot with the onion, bay leaf, and a small thyme branch.
- Once it starts boiling, add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, and move the shrimp into a colander to drain.
- Let the shrimp cool for at least ½ hour.
Make sure to reserve about 1 ½ cup of the shrimp cooking broth. You'll need this for later.
Make The Sauce
- In a large bowl, add the ketchup followed by the habanero sauce, lime juice, and shrimp broth.
- Mix everything together and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Make The Shrimp Cocktail and Serve!
- Once the shrimp have cooled down, divide the shrimp into four (4) cups.
- Pour some of the habanero sauce over the shrimp and top with the avocado, onion, and cilantro.
What To Serve With Spicy Shrimp Cocktail
For everyone’s personal taste, I recommend serving it alongside some saltine crackers and a few extra lime wedges. If you are really into spice, make sure to have some extra habanero sauce on the side.
Besides crackers, this shrimp cocktail tastes amazing with some homemade tortilla chips!
More Authentic Mexican Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this recipe for shrimp cocktail, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
- Seafood Cocktail
- Shrimp Aguachiles In Mango-Habanero Salsa
- Tequila Shrimp
- Dried Shrimp Patties
- Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Fish
I hope you make this Mexican shrimp cocktail! If this recipe was of any help to you, come back to let me know your experience. Please leave us a comment done below and tell us all about it!
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail With Habanero Sauce
- 1 ½ lb. uncooked shrimp heads off*
- ½ onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small thyme branch
- 2 cups of Ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon Habanero Sauce
- ¼ cup Lime juice
- 1 ½ cup Shrimp cooking broth**
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup red onion diced
- ⅓ cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1 Avocado diced
- 4 –6 Lime wedges
- Hot Habanero Sauce
- Olive oil
- Rinse the shrimp in a colander under cool running water. Remove shrimp shell and tails. It is easier to peel the shrimp starting from the underside, by the swimming legs. The shells come off very easily that way.
- With the help of a paring knife, devein the shrimp, making a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp. Remove the exposed vein and wipe knife blade with a paper towel.
- Start boiling 6 cups of water in a large stock pot with ½ a medium onion, 1 bay leaf, and a small Thyme branch. Once it starts boiling, add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, and move the shrimp into a colander to drain. Let the shrimp cool for at least ½ hour. Reserve about 1 ½ cup of the shrimp cooking broth.
- If you can’t wait to try the shrimp until they’re cooled, you can just eat them as a snack with lime and Habanero sauce!
- In a large bowl, place the ketchup sauce.
- Add the Habanero Sauce, lime juice, and shrimp broth. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Once the shrimp have cooled, divide into four (4) cups, pour some sauce over the shrimp, and top with the avocado, onion, and cilantro. For everyone’s personal taste, serve alongside olive oil, Habanero Sauce, lime wedges and Saltine Crackers.