Easy Enough for a Weeknight and Perfect for Summer: Whole30 Shrimp Cocktail

Why is it so good? I mean it’s just boiled shrimp and a sweet and spicy sauce. It feels kind of special, but it is super easy, so Whole30 Shrimp Cocktail can turn a weeknight dinner into a dinner party, especially with a cold glass of white wine or bubbly.

What is Shrimp Cocktail?

Shrimp Cocktail was a staple at restaurants back in the 80s and still is on almost EVERY steakhouse menu in the US. It’s basically just cold, poached shrimp with a sweet tomato and horseradish-based sauce. When done right, it is truly craveable. Meaty, fresh, sweet shrimp with the perfect balance of sweet, heat and tang in the cocktail sauce can make you forget about the rest of the menu and just order another one of those instead. Done wrong, you have tiny, rubbery shrimp swimming in an overly sweet sauce and it will ruin your entire meal. My secrets will help you become the Shrimp Cocktail master and you may just decide this IS dinner for many nights this summer!

Is Shrimp Cocktail Whole30 Friendly?

The cocktail sauce is what makes a shrimp cocktail problematic for those following Whole30 since it always has some form of sugar. The shrimp is simply poached in salted water infused with lemon, garlic, bay leaves and spices so it’s safe. But the cocktail sauce starts with a tomato base and some sort of sweetener. Many recipes use ketchup as a shortcut which is full of sugar and even high fructose corn syrup in most cases.

How to Make Shrimp Cocktail That is Whole30 Friendly

My recipe for cocktail sauce contains no added forms of sugar. It uses either my Homemade Whole30 Ketchup or a storebought Whole30 friendly brand like Primal Kitchen. Though neither have dates, honey, maple syrup, or sugar of any kind, there is just enough sweetness to compliment the sweet shrimp. Horseradish brings the heat and lemon juice brings the tang to round it out. Make more than you think you will need because you will want more, I promise!

What is the best kind of shrimp to buy?

Because of how shrimp feed, you definitely want to know the source of the shrimp you buy. In the US, wild-caught gulf shrimp is the gold standard. But even still, you want to know the seller is reputable. Greensbury Market is where I get my shrimp because they only get shrimp from American flagged vessels and the shrimp is processed here in the US, too. I have been beyond impressed with all their products, but the shrimp is OUTstanding! With only 16-20 per pound, they are huge and so sweet, they almost taste like lobster. They are peeled and deveined, so they are easy to prepare. The bonus? They donate a portion of seafood sales to Cleanhub, an organization that is protecting the ocean by collecting plastic debris. Use my code GETHHR to get 10% off your first purchase!

What to Serve with Shrimp Cocktail

You’re sitting on a patio with a cold glass of chardonnay and this shrimp cocktail and who’s to say that CAN’T be dinner. But, your family or the guests you’ve invited to share in this midweek seafood feast may beg to differ, so here are some options that keep it Whole30 friendly. Make the sides while the shrimp are chilling (literally) in the fridge.

  • Boiled potatoes with Lemon Herb Ghee – Boil whole, small potatoes in the same water you boiled the shrimp while the shrimp are chilling. Cut into quarters (or smaller if potatoes are big) and toss with the lemon herb ghee or just plain ghee. Note: the link for the Lemon Herb Ghee uses butter, but use ghee to keep it Whole30 friendly
  • Simple Coleslaw – Mix storebought slaw mix with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup mayo and a couple of minced green onions.
  • Lemony Arugula & Zucchini Salad – Drizzle a bag of arugula with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and squeeze on some lemon. Shave a zucchini with a vegetable peeler to make thin ribbons and toss it all together.

Weeknight and Perfect for Summer: Shrimp Cocktail | Paleo & Whole30

Course: Main


  • For Four People:

  • 1/4 cup sea salt

  • 2 small lemons, halved

  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp mustard seed

  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh

  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper

  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

  • 2 lbs frozen extra large shrimp

  • Cocktail Sauce, recipe follows

  • Whole30 Cocktail Sauce
  • 1 cup Whole30 friendly ketchup

  • 2 tbsp horseradish (or to taste)

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • Bring a 1 gallon pot of water to a boil. Squeeze in the juice of the lemons then carefully drop in the rinds Add 1/4 cup of sea salt, garlic, herbs and spices to the water.
  • When the water is boiling rapidly, add the frozen shrimp. Turn the burner off and stir to make sure none of the shrimp are sticking together.
  • When the shrimp are curled into a “c” and very pink, remove with a mesh strainer or slotted spoon to a boil of ice water. Let stand in ice water for 2-3 minutes then drain in a colander. Place in fridge while you make the side dishes. If you are making boiled potatoes, use the same water you boiled the shrimp in to make them extra flavorful.
  • Make the Cocktail Sauce
  • Combine the ingredients and stir well. Taste and add more horseradish or lemon if necessary to make it how you like it.
  • Serving Ideas: For dinner, just serve a big pile of shrimp with cocktail sauce alongside your chosen sides. For a large party, serve the shrimp with the cocktail sauce on a platter. To make it festive for a dinner party, add the cocktail sauce to martini glasses and hang the shrimp around the sides.


  • For a party, this will be enough shrimp for 8-10 people but for dinner, typically I serve 8 ounces of seafood per person.
  • This can be totally made ahead of time. Simply poach the shrimp then chill until ready to serve up to 3 days later. The cocktail sauce will last for at least 7 days.

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  1. Crystal Easterling on June 22, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Crystal Easterling

  2. Crystal Easterling on June 22, 2021 at 9:53 am

    This sounds deliscious, Christi!
    I am going to try it😄

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