The Unorthodox Epicure — Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is one of those dishes with neither a clear history, nor a defined classic recipe. I’ve heard people say that it must include chopped celery to be authentic. There are others who insist that parfait glasses are the only correct way to serve this appetizer. I say hogwash to all of that!

Not only have I eaten shrimp cocktail in Mexico (it was nothing like this more common version), I’ve spent plenty of time in mom & pop Mexican restaurants watching patrons drink tomato broth and chew small shrimp from large goblets. I’ve seen various ingredients added — from black beans to orange soda.

I’m hesitant to call my recipe a classic. Sure, there are many similar versions out there, but this one is more commonly consumed (in Mexico) on the west coast. Whatever you add, just make sure you serve it ice cold.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail — Mexican West Coast style.

Shrimp Cocktail (Coctel de camarones) — Mexican West Coast style.


1 lb – Shrimp (med-lg), cooked, peeled & deveined (see instructions below)

1½ cups – Clamato, or other tomato/clam juice cocktail
1 – Small Cilantro bunch
1/4 cup – Diced onion
1/4 cup – Ketchup
1/8 tsp – Celery seed
1 – Serrano (or other med.-hot pepper), seeded w/ stem removed
Juice of 1 Lime

1/4 cup – Tomato salsa
2 – Medium Avocados, chunked (just before serving)

Combine in a blender: Clamato, cilantro, onion, ketchup, celery seed, serrano and lime juice. Mix until smooth. Stir in tomato salsa.

Pour liquid over cooked/chilled shrimp in a resealable plastic or glass container, making sure that mixture is combined. Seal; refrigerate for at least 3 hours — to overnight. Divide between 5-6 margarita or martini glasses; top with avocado chunks and additional cilantro, if desired. Serve with saltines or tortilla chips and extra lime wedges.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Optional add-ins & toppers

  • Jalapeno (instead of Serrano) for extra heat
  • 1/2 cup – Chunked fresh cucumber (mix in after blending)
  • 1/4 cup – Diced celery (mix in after blending)
  • Few drops – Hot sauce, Mexican or Lousiana-style
  • Few drops – Worcestershire
  • Chile powder or el Sazón de TAJÍN

To poach shrimp
2 TB – Old Bay Seasoning -or- 1 TB Pickling spices plus 1 TB Cajun Salt
1 – Lemon, quartered

To about 8 quarts of water, add spices and lemon. Bring to a rolling boil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Place shrimp in water, turn off heat and cover for about 5 minutes (until shrimp are pink). Remove shrimp and place in ice water to prevent overcooking.

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  1. Yum! I have had this in the past but nothing as grand as this. I love the idea of adding cukes and celery – two of my favorite veggies. This will be a very nice summer Tex-Mex meal. Thanks! Pinning!

  2. What a way to welcome summer! I make a dish that is similar that I posted a long time ago. It is a bit different, but I’ll bet just as good. I don’t care what you name it-this is one of my favorite munchies for summer. And it doesn’t hurt that it is so healthy. I’m not sure though, about the beers that I have with it!

  3. I deem this a classically good summer recipe,

  4. Classically beautiful!

  5. Looks wonderful and something different to try since I’ve only ever had shrimp cocktail with a basic cocktail sauce. Hmmm, 1 lb for 4-5 servings … I think I’d do 1 lb for 2 people and call it dinner. Got to love poaching the shrimp in that Old Bay though. That stuff is great isn’t it?

    • adamjholland says:

      Bring on the two quart-sized glasses, Diane! Let’s make it a meal! :-) (And thanks for your kind words.)

  6. I’ve made a version of this, a Rick Bayless recipe, I think and it was o-u-t of this w-o-r-l-d.

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