Cocktail Sauce

Jarred cocktail sauce on the left, homemade on the right

As I looked through old cook books recently, in search of recipes for a 50’s themed New Year’s Eve party, I came upon a recipe for homemade cocktail sauce.  Cocktail sauce is one of those foods that I take for granted and never considered making  homemade.  It’s usually a secondary appendage to a plate of shrimp, with the shrimp taking center stage, so I never stopped to wonder if it could be made better or fresher tasting.  Having stumbled across a recipe for this appetizer staple I naturally had to compare the flavor of homemade cocktail sauce  to the jarred variety.  Below is the recipe that made me think twice about cocktail sauce.   It comes from one of the cookbooks I use most often when looking for simple, basic recipes:  The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  I actually have two versions of this cookbook:  one that was published within the past few years and an older one from the 1950’s.  I like having both versions so I can compare their take on different recipes since the newer cookbook tends toward more convenient and faster foods while the older version sometimes has recipes that are more involved and time consuming.  The  cocktail sauce recipes were very similar in both versions.

Cocktail Sauce

makes about 1 1/2 cups or enough for 2 pounds of shrimp


  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2  Tablespoons green onion or chives thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • several dashes hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

1.  Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.  Can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

This recipe obviously couldn’t be any easier; just measure and mix!  It took only a few minutes to make and the results were noticeably more flavorful than store bought cocktail sauce.  The homemade sauce was spicier than store bought, but also richer tasting.  A couple of the tasters commented that the store bought version just tasted like straight ketchup next to the homemade.   The testers agreed unanimously that the homemade sauce tasted better than store bought, as the picture below demonstrates:

Shrimp with jarred cocktail sauce (left) and homemade (right)

I was actually surprised that something as simple as cocktail sauce could be made better homemade and it was so easy too!

Bottom Line: For little extra effort or expense, you can make a much better, richer tasting cocktail sauce at home instead of buying it in a jar.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce                                            Heinz  Cocktail Sauce

Cost: $1.70                                                                                    Cost: $1.50

Time: 5 minutes                                                                          Time:  none