Shrimp Cocktail

These shrimp have an amazing crunch, just explode with awesome shrimp flavor and are better than any shrimp cocktail I’ve had in any restaurant.

The recipe is based on  Alton Brown’s broiling method, modified to work with frozen shrimp.

1.5 Lbs Raw, shell-on, U15 or 16-20 shrimp.
De-veined (cleaned) if you can get them. This will save you a ton of work.
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
3 Cups Cold tap-water
1/2 Teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (optional)
1/4  Cup Olive Oil
2 Aluminum Sheet Pans (not Teflon!)

Shopping Tip:
Unless you can see shrimp boats from your bedroom window, buy “individually quick-frozen” shrimp . Any non-frozen shrimp you see in the store are just frozen shrimp that the store thawed. The “spoilage clock” start ticking as soon as they get much above 0°F, so buy frozen. They’re fresher and taste better.

When shopping, make sure that the shrimp in your bag are not stuck together. This indicates that they may have thawed out on the shelf next to the laundry detergent and then re-frozen. You do not want these.

U15 means there are “Under 15 shrimp/pound” 16/20 means there are between 16 and 20 shrimp per pound.

Never buy pre-cooked shrimp, since you’re going to cook them. Twice-cooked shrimp are terrible.


  • The night before, take the bag of shrimp out of the freezer, snip the corner off and place the bag in a bowl, cut corner facing down and place in the refrigerator. This will allow the shrimp to drain as they thaw.
  • When ready to cook continue here:
  • Place a sheet pan in the freezer. Move the oven rack as close to the broiler as possible, set the broiler on high and place the other sheet pan under the broiler.
  • If the ingredients list on the shrimp says “sodium phosphate” or “sodium anything,” skip the next step.
  • Mix the sugar, salt and water in a bowl to dissolve, Add the shrimp. Wait 20 minutes, then remove.
  • Dry shrimp thoroughly on paper towels.
  • Place the olive oil in a shallow dish or pan and mix in the Old Bay if you’re using it.
  • Toss the shrimp in the olive oil/Old Bay to coat well.
  • Pull the hot sheet pan from the oven and quickly lay out all the shrimp.
  • Put the sheet pan with the shrimp back in the oven.
  • In 2 minutes, pull the pan out, quickly flip all the shrimp over with tongs and return to the oven for another minute.
  • Remove the sheet pan from the freezer.
  • One minute after returning the shrimp to the oven,  remove the tray from the oven, transfer all the shrimp to the freezer pan and return freezer pan to freezer until pan and shrimp are chilled.
  • Remove the shells from the now-chilled shrimp, leaving the tail in place
  • Serve with cocktail sauce (below), or place in a covered bowl and store in the refrigerator.

Cocktail Sauce recipe:

There are tons of recipes out there, but I actually prefer the traditional “ketchup and horseradish” style.

Buy the freshest horseradish you can find, where the ingredients list doesn’t contain anything except “horseradish, vinegar (and maybe salt).” Mix about 50:50 with ketchup and/or Heinz Chili Sauce, depending on how spicy you like it.

Serve the shrimp chilled with the cocktail sauce and enjoy!