Upgrade any seafood dish with this homemade cocktail sauce made with only 4 simple ingredients! Perfect for adding a zesty kick to your shrimp and other delicious dishes.

Cocktail Sauce on Spoon with Bowl of Sauce Behind

Looking for a delicious way to jazz up your seafood? Homemade cocktail sauce is the way to go. This easy recipe can be whipped up in no time.

Cocktail Sauce in Bowl with Spoon and Towel


Ketchup – Simply Heinz is a great option; it contains no high fructose corn syrup. If you look at the ingredients for ketchup, they are very similar to the ingredients you’ll find in the base for cocktail sauce—including tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Horseradish – use prepared horseradish, a condiment made from the root of horseradish, vinegar, and salt.

Lemon juice – use bottled lemon juice or freshly squeeze a lemon wedge.

Worcestershire – regular Worcestershire sauce.

Ingredients for Homemade Cocktail Sauce

➡ What is the difference between horseradish, prepared horseradish, and horseradish sauce?

There are many different ways to buy horseradish at the grocery store. Here is a quick explanation of each.

  • Horseradish is a root vegetable with a spicy, strong flavor. It has many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins, and low-calorie content.
  • Prepared horseradish uses freshly grated horseradish, vinegar, and salt.
  • Horseradish sauce is a common condiment for adding flavor to dishes such as ribs or sandwiches. Traditionally, horseradish sauce is made with creamed horseradish and mayonnaise or sour cream.

Note: you can also find ‘hot, spicy, or extra hot’ versions, so be sure to read the packaging before you buy.


  • Small mixing bowl and spoon
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Serving dish and/or storage container

How to Make Cocktail Sauce

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.

Adding Ketchup, Horseradish, Lemon Juice, and Worchesterchire to a Mixing Bowl

Mix well until fully combined.

Mixing Together Ingredients for Cocktail Sauce

You can serve it immediately or chill it in the refrigerator, which will allow the flavors to blend together.

Cocktail Sauce Ingredients (left) Finished Sauce Closeup in Bowl (right)

Use this homemade sauce within 1 to 2 weeks for optimal taste and freshness. However, you can continue to enjoy this sauce for several months safely as long as you keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

More About This Recipe

  • This sauce is so easy—it only takes 5 minutes to prepare. We are all about easy recipes!
  • You likely already have most of the ingredients on hand, except for maybe the horseradish.
  • It’s delicious for dipping shrimp, shooting oysters, and even topping your favorite non-seafood dishes like omelets, burgers, and brats.

What is Cocktail Sauce?

Also known as ‘seafood sauce,’ cocktail sauce is a zesty, tomato-based condiment made from tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, horseradish, and other seasonings. It has a unique flavor profile (somewhat spicy thanks to the horseradish) perfect for pairing with seafood dishes like shrimp cocktail or oysters.

➡ Why is it called cocktail sauce?

Cocktail sauce has remained a beloved favorite of seafood fans for over a century. It is said to have made its debut in the late 19th century, served as an appetizer with shellfish at cocktail parties. Later it was even served in cocktail glasses, hence securing its name. While slight variations have been introduced throughout history, one thing remains unchanged – this savory condiment’s delicious flavor.

How to Make It Hot & Spicy

If you’re looking to spice up this cocktail sauce recipe, add some spicy elements in the form of hot sauce or tabasco. Simply mix in tabasco (or any spicy hot sauce) a little at a time (tasting it as you go) to ensure that it has as much heat as you’d like.

Here are a few add-in ideas to kick up the heat:

  • Tabasco pepper sauce
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Spicy red chili powder
  • Chili sauce
Homemade Cocktail Sauce in Bowl with Spoon on Wooden Coaster

Uses for Cocktail Sauce

  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Oyster shooters
  • Hot dogs or brats topping
  • Omelets topping
  • Onion ring dip
  • Mozzarella sticks dip
  • Fry sauce
  • Meatloaf topping
  • Hashbrown topping
  • Bloody marys
  • Shrimp fondue dipping sauce

🌭 65+ brat topping ideas – check out our topping list here.

How long does cocktail sauce last?

Homemade cocktail sauce can last 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator (if stored properly) without losing its taste or texture. Store-bought cocktail sauce will last even longer due to preservatives. Unopened, it will keep for up to 1 year in the pantry and up to 2 years in the fridge or freezer. Opened, you can keep it in the refrigerator for about 6 months per the USDA.

Can you freeze cocktail sauce?

Freezing cocktail sauce is an option if you have leftovers or do not plan to use it for several weeks or months. To freeze cocktail sauce, place it in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Then, store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to use, allow the cocktail sauce to thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

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Cocktail Sauce on Spoon with Bowl of Sauce Behind

Homemade Cocktail Sauce

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A quick and easy homemade cocktail sauce with just 4 ingredients. Perfect for enjoying shrimp and other seafood.

  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 9 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish, prepared
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. In a small bowl, combine ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge to allow the flavors to marinate.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


  • For a spicer sauce, try adding tabasco sauce or other hot sauce.
  • Author: Kelsey Restemayer
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: No-Bake
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 46
  • Sugar: 7.4 g
  • Sodium: 304.2 mg
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.2 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.9 mg
Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes
Homemade Cocktail Sauce in Bowl with Towel

Final Thoughts

This homemade cocktail sauce recipe is easy and only takes a few minutes to make. You can easily add hot sauce to turn up the heat a bit. Give this delicious sauce a try the next time you want to liven up your shrimp or fish dish.


Have You Tried This Recipe? Please rate it in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Closeup of Cocktail Sauce on Spoon

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Homemade Cocktail Sauce

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