Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Mexican shrimp cocktail

Sometimes less is more, especially in the case of simple Mexican shrimp cocktail. The light and refreshing summer appetizer consists of poached shrimp marinated in a lime and spicy tomato juice base along with tomatoes, onions, celery, cilantro and creamy cubes of avocado that create fresh flavors similar to ceviche.

Mexican shrimp cocktail
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, A Perfect Summer Appetizer

I would call this appetizer a cross between a shrimp cocktail and ceviche. Instead of a horseradish and ketchup based dipping sauce, the shrimp are served in a lime and spicy tomato juice base mixed with fresh tomatoes, green onions and cilantro similar to pico de gallo. Creamy chucks of fresh avocado are mixed in right before serving. Much lighter and fresher tasting than a traditional shrimp cocktail, the fresh flavors of the ingredients enhance the taste of the shrimp.

A shrimp cocktail or coctel de camarones, as it is called in Spanish speaking countries, is very common in restaurants in the coastal regions of Central and South America. There are many varieties but they are all fresh, savory, crunchy and a little spicy. Simply made, this appetizer is perfect to enjoy at home as it is prepared with easy to find ingredients. Cold and refreshing, my Mexican shrimp cocktail is a perfect dish to enjoy on a hot summer day either as a starter or a light meal.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Serves 2 generously, adjust the recipe according.

  • 6 extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed plus 2 shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails left on to use as garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning or other seafood seasoning spice
  • 1/4 c. Clamato juice, V8 juice or tomato juice (I used Clamato)
  • juice from 1/2 lime, more to taste if the lime you use is small
  • 1 tsp., more or less depending on spiciness, green Tabasco sauce or hot sauce of your choice
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 whole scallions (green onions), sliced
  • a handful of cilantro, stems removed and minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes

Add the Old Bay Seasoning to a pot of water, stir and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until just opaque and pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold water until cool then drain and pat dry. Cut the tailless shrimp into 3 or 4 pieces and leave the 2 with tails whole.

Place the shrimp and all the remaining ingredients, except the avocado, into a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 1 or 2 hours for the flavors to meld then taste once more. Just before serving, add the avocado and stir gently until combined. Spoon into a serving bowl, individual bowls or martini or margarita glasses, garnish with the whole shrimp and serve immediately.

For a quicker preparation, already cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp can be substituted for the raw shrimp. If so, skip the cooking process and continue with the recipe.

Be careful to not overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery.

For this recipe you can use tomato juice, V8, Clamato or other seasoned tomato juice of your choice.

If your lime is hard, press firmly on the lime and roll it on the counter before you slice it. It will be easier to squeeze and you will get more juice out of it.

Wait to peel and cube the avocado until you are about ready to serve so that it retains its green color.

You will find many variations for Mexican shrimp cocktail that add garlic, diced hot pepper, cucumbers, ketchup, etc. but I believe simpler is better so as not to over power the flavor of the shrimp.

This recipe has a lot of delicious liquid that will remind you of gazpacho, I suggest savoring it with a spoon…it is delicious.

A Mexican shrimp cocktail is traditionally served with saltine crackers but I like to use crispy tortilla chips.

If you are making the shrimp cocktail for dinner guests, you could rim the glass with a mixture of salt and chili power then add a lime wedge for a more festive look.


Notes From The Kitchen


I loved this delicious and flavorful Mexican shrimp cocktail and I think you will as well. It takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare and then it rests in the refrigerator for its flavors to meld. I keep the ingredients to a minimum but you can certainly add more vegetables and seasonings to make it your own.

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

50 thoughts on “Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

  1. Gorgeous. I like this lighter version. My mother used to make the traditional version occasionally when I was a kid as a light supper dish when we’d had a large Sunday lunch. It was such a treat!

  2. What a great version of a classic dish! Looks much better than the traditional shrimp cocktails I’m accustomed to seeing — SO much flavor in this. Tortilla chips for me, too — perfect garnish. Super neat recipe — thanks.

  3. Looks amazing Karen. Makes for a beautiful presentation too. i love seeing your beautiful photos. The colors are so vivid. happy Independence Day to you.

  4. This is one of my favorite dishes!….I do it in Summer as well for Christmas because of the colors!!….your look delicious!!….In case you want to buy purple corn, you can find it in Amazon as well. Abrazotes, Marcela

  5. Ooh, I like this, Karen. It transports me back to my childhood in the 1970s when Mum would make prawn cocktails for dinner parties and special dinners at home.

    I may need to buy some prawns this weekend for a treat ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Simple is often best! I love to make ceviche with mushrooms or hearts of palm. It really is the perfect dish for summer. Cool, refreshing, uncomplicated, and it won’t weigh you down. Of course, nothing wrong with serving it alongside some freshly fried tortilla chips, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. I like this cross between a ceviche and shrimp cocktail. In 2019 we visited many countries in Latin and South America (what a trip!) and the best ceviche I had was in Panama. Interesting! And you never really hear about the cuisine of Panama, which now makes me want to look it up! anyway, this is light, delicious, and gorgeous.

  8. Karen, This is the absolute perfect appetizer! I love shrimp (although I think the name “camarones” is much prettier!). And this seems so much more refreshing and summery than cocktail sauce! I think I’ll be making this for my next dinner party- thanks for the recipe!

  9. Lovely! I’ve added avocado to my prawn cocktail but I picked up some oh-so-very good tips from your method, thank you. Cooling the prawns/gumbo shrimp for instance … and cooking them in a seasoned sea … clap clap!

  10. Love this recipe – and it is something I get almost every time I am at a Mexican restaurant here in Tucson (well, the ones that serve seafood, anyway). I will look forward to making this at home, though. Letely, I have been into making ceviche… (as you will see soon… in August). Thanks, Karen!

  11. I would definitely make a whole meal of this deliciousness! (And I LOVE the glass!) ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Valentina

  12. This looks amazing and it’s beautiful too! I can’t believe it only takes 15 minutes. I’m super excited to try this recipe. My family is going to love it. Thanks for making summer recipes so easy! Hugs, CoCo

  13. What a fun and colorful recipe, Karen! I do enjoy shrimp cocktail, and I like how you put a Mexican spin on this classic appetizer. I could also see eating that base as a salsa with tortilla chips. Yum!!

  14. Not sure how I missed this gorgeous post, that shrimp cocktail looks absolutely delicious. I have been severely missing ceviche since I cannot consume highly acidic dishes but this looks like a fabulous compromise. I might add a little coconut milk into the liquid to temper the tomato juice acidity. Itโ€™s absolutely gorgeous!

  15. Shrimp cocktails are a special treat in this house because finding good shrimp is not easy. Would love to find some soon and make this. I’m very curious about the addition of clamato juice. Sounds like a tasty addition.

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