Make Ahead

Mama Mia, That’s A Speecy-Spicy Cocktail Sauce

March 26, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Makes About a cup
Author Notes

When I was growing up, one of my favorite dinners was seafood. My dad would stop at our favorite seafood shop on his way home from work and buy boiled shrimp, crabs and crawfish. We’d spread newspapers over the kitchen table, and my siblings and I had contests to see who could peel the most shrimp and make the biggest pile of shells. We each had our own style. My brother and sisters and I would blow through and eat as fast as we could peel. My mother would peel several shrimp at a time and set them aside on a dainty plate and make herself a shrimp cocktail. My dad would challenge us to suck the crawfish and shrimp heads (which we pretended to think was disgusting, but was actually really good), and taught us how to tell male from female crabs (and if you got a female and were lucky, you’d get the roe as well). Cocktail sauce was always home-made, and always had lots of horseradish. Here’s my version.
(Proportions are to taste—feel free to play with it.)

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (I use Gold’s extra hot)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 5-10 drops Tabasco (add a few drops at a time till it’s as hot as you like)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • a few turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, in case you need more heat)
  1. Stir everything together. Taste it—it’s good! And adjust seasoning to your taste.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • calendargirl
  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • lapadia
  • healthierkitchen
  • nannydeb

34 Reviews

calendargirl August 9, 2012
Oh drb, don't know how I missed this before... just brought home some shrimp and realized I needed cocktail sauce for it. This is great. Thank you so much! BTW, the photos are super and you are adorable in your checked dress and face-framing waves!
Oui, C. March 30, 2011
Wow....y'all haven't changed a bit! Great sounding sauce, too. - S
Stockout March 29, 2011
If nothing, my fair lady, your stories are worth more than your recipes. Giving a part of yourself, dispersing a spirit or sorts from a family member, can be more a part of a recipe than the actual components. I do believe that when you make a recipe for friends or family you are including the spirit of the person who has passed that recipe on to you. that is why NO ONE can make it exaclty the way you do....tell me I am wrong and I will go silently away.......................
drbabs March 29, 2011
Some recipes are just like that, aren't they? Food connects us to primal memories and happy times--that's why it's so compelling. Thank you for noticing. Being able to share our stories is what makes this such a great community.
lorigoldsby March 30, 2011
i agree... love hearing about the family table stories! we make our cocktail sauce so hot that if it's not "all exits open/no waiting" when you bite into it, then its for wimps.

thanks for the chuckle, forgot about the newspapers on the table!
lapadia March 29, 2011
Love spicy cocktail sauce, especially enjoyed reading your "blast from the past" story!
drbabs March 29, 2011
healthierkitchen March 28, 2011
sounds great- thanks for sharing a piece of your childhood!
drbabs March 29, 2011
Some of us have blogs...some of us overshare on Food52!
nannydeb March 28, 2011
This is great! Thanks for sharing the recipe and photos!
drbabs March 29, 2011
Thanks for noticing!
dymnyno March 28, 2011
I love your story...ours was similar; we always had dungeness crab. My mother always made herself a nice salad while we had a crab grab.
drbabs March 29, 2011
Crab grab--I love that!
Midge March 28, 2011
Love the smoked paprika in here. What a great memory and wonderful photos!
drbabs March 29, 2011
Thanks, Midge!
ellenl March 28, 2011
Where is the 2nd photo you mention? How do I find it?
drbabs March 28, 2011
Click on the 2 under the photo. :)
drbabs March 28, 2011
I'm second from the left in the first picture and all the way on the right in the second.
fiveandspice March 27, 2011
Love it! The story, the photo, and the recipe!
drbabs March 28, 2011
TheWimpyVegetarian March 27, 2011
I am definitely going to have to make this! It sounds wonderful and I like smoked paprika on just about anything too! It's such a wonderful spice. And I really love the photos!!! Thanks for sharing!!!
drbabs March 28, 2011
Thank you!
Kayb March 26, 2011
That's almost a dead ringer for my homemade cocktail sauce -- I don't use the smoked paprika, and instead of red pepper flakes, I just hit it with more hot sauce if it needs it. Proportions may be a little different -- who measures? -- but essentially the same sauce. Isn't it wonderful?
drbabs March 26, 2011
It is...I just love smoked paprika; I'd use it on ice cream.
Sagegreen March 26, 2011
This sounds great! Btw I have used smoked paprika on ice cream!
drbabs March 26, 2011
Why doesn't that surprise me?
mrslarkin March 26, 2011
i LOVE homemade cocktail sauce and this sure sounds fantastic! Your photos are great, too! What a fun bunch! Thanks for sharing!!
drbabs March 26, 2011
Thanks...yes, as we like to say, we put the fun in dysfunctional.
hardlikearmour March 26, 2011
Love your photo, and story!
drbabs March 26, 2011
testkitchenette March 26, 2011
Fabulous photo and story! We always made our own cocktail sauce as well (still do!). My dad gets the final say in if it needs more horseradish...the spicier, the better!
drbabs March 26, 2011
Oh, thanks! The second picture is of the 4 of us about 4 years ago. We still have a lot of fun together.
ellenl March 26, 2011
What a great photo and such a warm memory. The recipe sounds so good--can't wait to make it for my son with the shrimp sitting in the freezer for later today. Thanks.
drbabs March 26, 2011
Thanks, Ellen. I hope you enjoy it.