Shrimp Cocktail – Mexican Restaurant Style

aka “Mike’s Mexican Style Shrimp Cocktail”

Shrimp cocktail Mexican Restaurant StyleI also like to refer to this as “Summertime Soup.” This is a really great recipe for hot summer temps when you want soup, but don’t want extra heat. One of my favorite dishes to order at a Mexican restaurant is shrimp cocktail. It’s not your usual cocktail sauce covered shrimp. It’s lighter, zesty, and really refreshing.

We’re dealing with triple digit heat here in California. It’s too hot to grill unless you want to wait around until ten o’clock at night to fire up the grill. Two months out of the year we pretty much just hibernate in the air conditioning. This dish almost makes up for not being able to barbecue. We’ll make up a batch, invite friends over, and have margaritas, chips and salsa, and shrimp cocktail. It’s always a crowd pleaser.

What is great about this recipe is that it’s easy to play with and tweak to adjust to your tastes. When I’m looking to duplicate something I’ve had at a restaurant, I do a lot of searches and I look at a lot of recipes, what I end up making is more of a hodge podge of a dozen or so different recipes. Maybe one ingredient from this, or one idea from that, but then I add my own spin. My version of this actually has cucumber and diced tomatoes, which isn’t really found in most recipes.

This shrimp cocktail is a make ahead dish! It needs to sit 12 – 24 hours!

Plan on making this the day before you need it. It really needs to sit and chill 12-24 hours. Note that the recipe says “heaping” a lot. I’m not baking, I don’t level off my ingredients in the measuring cups. Often I eyeball my garlic pile and try to make it about the same size as my pile of chopped jalapeños. This recipe makes a big bowl of this stuff. Keep it covered in the fridge and it will last a weekend, if it lasts that long. Around here this recipe is usually long gone before it ever has a chance to go bad.

Mike's Shrimp Cocktail – Mexican Restaurant Style


  • 2lbs cooked shrimp (the 50-70 per pound size), peeled and deveined
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced into bite size chunks
  • 1 jalapeño diced, don't seed it. Seriously.
  • 3 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion finely diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro - just cut off the biggest portion of stems and chop finely.
  • 1 can of Rotel Tomatoes (don't drain it. Use the whole can and juice)
  • 3 cups of tomato and clam juice cocktail (I prefer Picante Clamato)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (heaping)
  • 4-6 limes juiced (you want a solid, heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish (heaping)
  • Dashes of hot sauce (get a good Mexican hot sauce like Tapatio) to taste
  • Salt - to taste
  • 2-4 avocados - peeled, pitted, and diced (to garnish)


  1. This is the easy part. Put your shrimp in a bowl, add all the other ingredients (except avocado) and stir well.
  2. Cover and put it in the fridge 12-24 hours.
  3. When you are ready to serve - dice up your avocado. Ladle shrimp cocktail into bowls or cups, top with diced avocado, and serve with hot sauce and lime wedges on the side.
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