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How to Make Cocktail Sauce - Florida Sunshine Flavor

Updated on January 31, 2013
Homemade Cocktail Sauce
Homemade Cocktail Sauce | Source

Cocktail Sauce

What's your favorite cocktail sauce? As a resident of South Georgia, I have access to all kinds of fresh seafood, and we love seafood recipes. The Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico produce an abundance of blue crabs, stone crab claws, shrimp, scallops, oysters, clams, and numerous species of finned fishes. Streams, ponds, and bayous also produce crawfish. All my family members love seafood, especially when it’s served with some type of seafood sauce. With steamed or grilled seafood, and with crab cakes, we usually prefer a cocktail sauce. I have an “old reliable” cocktail sauce recipe that everyone loves, but I decided to make something a little different last night to go with our boiled shrimp. It was a big hit! This cocktail sauce recipe is sweet and hot, and it also has the brightness of citrus fruits. It’s super easy to make, and you’ll want to prepare a lot of it – seriously. It was wonderful with our shrimp cocktail, but it would also be perfect with steamed blue crabs, stone crab claws, crawfish, oysters, crab cakes, grilled fish, grilled shrimp, or with most other seafood recipes. Give this homemade cocktail sauce a try!

I love this cocktail sauce with crab cakes.
I love this cocktail sauce with crab cakes.
Serve the sauce with grilled shrimp.
Serve the sauce with grilled shrimp.
Serve this seafood sauce with steamed blue crabs.
Serve this seafood sauce with steamed blue crabs.
It's great with crawfish, too!
It's great with crawfish, too!
Dip stone crab claws in melted butter and then in the cocktail sauce. Yum!
Dip stone crab claws in melted butter and then in the cocktail sauce. Yum!

How To Make Cocktail Sauce

If you want to learn to make cocktail sauce, use your imagination! Include your own favorites when it comes to ingredients. You'll need to start with some type of base. The most popular are ketcup and chili sauce, but there's no reason you have to follow tradition. For example, I make a great seafood sauce that uses a mayonnaise base, and it's very similar to the yum yum sauce you get at Japanese steak houses. An old pal of mine used to make an oyster sauce with mayonnaise and mustard as a base, and it was very tasty with roasted oysters. When she told me about her homemade seafood sauce, it didn't sound very impressive. Once I tried it, I changed my mind.

Other ingredients you might want to consider include barbecue sauce, Russian salad dressing, French salad dressing, Catalina salad dressing, tomato sauce, tomato paste, marinara sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato juice, or butter. Yes, seasoned seafood butters are great with grilled, boiled, steamed, and roasted seafood! For a thinner, hotter sauce, you might want to consider using hot sauce or Tabasco sauce as a base.

What other seasonings should you add to your homemade cocktail sauce? Fruit juices work well here. The standard is lemon juice, but I think lime juice gives the sauce a better flavor. Believe it or not, orange juice is great, too. For sort of a Polynesian version, try using pineapple juice, and for Caribbean flavor, try adding some pureed mango to your sauce. You might also consider adding just a little vinegar to your cocktail sauce recipe.

How to make cocktail sauce that's hot and spicy? Grated horseradish is hard to beat, in my opinion, but there are other choices. They include paprika, hot sauce, Tabasco sauce, cayenne, and pureed chili peppers. For some smoky heat, include some chipotle powder. For a creamier cocktail sauce, add creamed horseradish instead of grated.

Do you like your seafood sauce to have some sweetness? If so, adding white sugar is the obvious choice, but brown sugar can work just as well. Other choices include honey, molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, and cane syrup. If you want the sweet flavor without the added calories, try using Splenda in your sauce.

Seafood Sauce

This seafood sauce is pretty sweet, so you might want to start with less sugar than I used. You can always add more later – just make sure the sugar dissolves completely before you serve the cocktail sauce. Also, we love horseradish, and truth be told, I used more grated horseradish than I include in the following recipe. I realize, however, that not everyone likes this much heat, so keep that in mind. Obviously, we like a seafood sauce with a hot kick, so I also add a healthy amount of hot sauce to this cocktail sauce recipe. You might want to omit the hot sauce completely.

Since we’ll be eating this cocktail sauce mostly with Florida seafood, and because it includes citrus fruit juices, I named it “Sunshine Cocktail Sauce,” after the Sunshine State. After all, I didn’t want it to be confused with my Georgia Cocktail Sauce recipe that’s on my Best American Food site.

This sauce recipe is perfect for shrimp cocktail and Low Country boil!
This sauce recipe is perfect for shrimp cocktail and Low Country boil!

Rate my homemade cocktail sauce. Thanks!

Cast your vote for Florida Sunshine Cocktail Sauce

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Ready in: 5 min
Yields: makes 1 1/2 cups of seafood sauce


  • 3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Heinz ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • hot sauce, to taste


  1. In a small bowl, combine orange juice concentrate, lime juice, lemon juice, and sugar.
  2. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Add ketchup, grated horseradish, vinegar, onion powder, and garlic powder. Taste the cocktail sauce. If it’s already hot enough for your tastes, you’re done. If not, add bottled hot sauce, to taste.
  4. Cover the seafood sauce and chill it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve your seafood.


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    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Great, Jools!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Habee, thanks for the suggestions - got them on my shopping list!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Jools, crab, shrimp, and fish are very low in calories, especially when boiled, grilled, or steamed. For the cocktail sauce recipe, use low-carb ketchup and Splenda.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Welcome, anglnwu. Thanks for visiting!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      I wish I wasn't about to start (yet another...) New Year diet; this spread of food looks asolutely mouthwatering and your sauce sounds like it would be delicious. The stuff you buy in jars could never live up to this! Voted up..but my tummy is now growling with longing!

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Lovely--sounds like my kind of sauce--sweet, spicy and tangy. Thanks for sharing.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      drbj, I've been on that diet for years! lol

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Mary. Some crabs would be great now!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for this interesting cocktail sauce, Holle. Will try it out the next time I have seafood. Which reminds me, have you heard about the new seafood diet? You only eat when you see food. Heh, heh.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 6 years ago from Florida

      This made my mouth water for crabs! I've bookmarked this recipe to come back another time. Thanks for sharing.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Carol, sounds like an interesting place! Sounds kinda like a place we like in North FL.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks, Bpop!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      EE, it's really good cocktail sauce. Hope you like it!

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 6 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      Looks great Habee, I bet it taste great too. I live in South Florida. There is a great restaurant I love to visit from time to time called the Rustic Inn. They serve crab cakes, garlic crabs, alaskian snow crab legs, blue crabs, many different types of fish, and shrimp made all different ways. I love it. The restaurant is located right off the riverway. I love eating on their patio and watch the boats go back and forth. Voted up and interesting.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      I really appreciate this recipe, habee. I love cocktail sauce.

    • ExquisiteExtacy profile image

      Vijay Anand Baree Sunnyasi 6 years ago from Perth

      seems delicious..will give it a try soon.


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