How to Make Cocktail Sauce

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Preparing your own cocktail sauce takes just a few minutes and gives you a fresh-tasting condiment that can be adjusted to be mild or spicy. Most recipes call for some combination of ketchup, prepared horseradish and lemon juice, but the addition of grated onion, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce add texture and complexity to cocktail sauce. A must for pairing with fresh or fried shrimp and other seafoods, cocktail sauce is also a welcome addition to bloody Marys.


  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Black pepper, to taste


Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, and whisk to combine them.

Cover the bowl or transfer the sauce to a storage container with a lid. Let it chill in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

Cocktail sauce can be prepared up to five days in advance.

Variations and Substitutions

Some like it hot. Use whatever type of hot sauce you like, and experiment with different kinds to mix it up. If you’re not a fan of heat, leave it out or reduce the amount to just a dash or two. Horseradish provides a spicy, peppery kick, so try adding a small amount at first if you find the flavor overwhelming.

Chili sauce can be used in place of ketchup. Or you can use both in equivalent amounts.

Choose grated yellow onion if you prefer a milder, sweeter onion flavor, or a red or white onion if you like more punch. You can also leave the grated onion out and replace with a few dashes of onion powder instead.

Suggested Uses

Cocktail sauce is not just for crustaceans. Cocktail sauce is traditionally served with shrimp and other seafood such as oysters as a dipping sauce, but it lends itself to many culinary applications. Stir a spoonful or two into a bloody Mary or tuna salad to add depth and complexity. Cocktail sauce livens up meatloaf and can be used as a glaze on everything from chicken breasts to pork chops. Pour cocktail sauce over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers for a simple appetizer.