How To Make Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Without Horseradish

Traditionally, shrimp cocktail sauce is made with ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, some form of hot sauce such as Tabasco and a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce. 

But because many people do not enjoy the strong flavor of horseradish, cocktail sauce as it is may not be the perfect fit for everyone.

If you are one of those people that don’t/can’t enjoy horseradish for one or more reasons, don’t despair, as there are plenty of ways to make shrimp cocktail sauce without horseradish.

In this article, we will show you these many ways so the “no horseradish geng” are not left behind too. The recipe is very easy to make and the ingredients are probably there in your kitchen.

What Is Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Made Of?

The foundation of shrimp cocktail sauce is primarily composed of 4 essential ingredients:

Ketchup which acts as the base for the sauce and provides a rich, sweet and tangy flavor that supports the other ingredients in creating the familiar cocktail sauce we all know and love.

Prepared horseradish which is the star ingredient of the sauce and is responsible for the distinct kick which contrasts against the cool and tender flavors of the shrimp it’s been paired with. Horseradish is responsible for the sharp and pungent heat that makes the entire sauce interesting 

Lemon juice which adds acidity and brightness  to balance out the sweetness from the ketchup of course, and is also responsible for the citrusy touch that seafood dishes often benefit from.

And lastly, Worcestershire sauce which not only adds savoriness but complexity due to its fermented flavors. 

Aside from these main elements, you can also find recipes that include hot sauces to further personalise the heat level of the sauce as well as salt and pepper to round out and enhance all those delicious flavors.

For the way that shrimp cocktail sauce is made, all the ingredients are combined in a small bowl and mixed thoroughly. Then they are placed in the refrigerator and allowed to sit for about an hour or more in order to bring together the flavors. 

Can You Make Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Without Horseradish?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to make shrimp cocktail sauce without horseradish, and the most simplest solution is to replace the horseradish with dashes of hot sauce or teaspoon of chili powder, or even both. 

In order to give birth to even more interesting and complex flavors, don’t hesitate to experiment with herbs like dill and tarragon as well as ground black pepper and ground celery seed powder. 

Another creative substitution for horseradish is wasabi paste. For this swap, use 1 teaspoon of wasabi for every tablespoon of horseradish called for in your recipe to prevent overdose which can really affect the overall flavors of your sauce. 

Alternatively, try utilizing spicy brown mustard, using 1 tablespoon of mustard as a replacement for every tablespoon of horseradish.

Make sure to pay attention to the heat levels of your dish prior to the substitutions, and keep things low or opt for the milder alternative like mustard if your dish already packs a punch. 

How To Make Cocktail Sauce With Ketchup And Mayo

You can create a cocktail sauce with mayonnaise, but then you’ll have something leaning more on the side of mayoketchup, powered by flavors coming from horseradish as well as Worcestershire sauce.

Simply, another variety of Mayochup.

For this recipe, all you need is the following.

  • 2 ¼ tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

You can add horseradish if you want, and you can simply start with half a tablespoon and work your way up, depending on the level of pungency that you want.


1. Begin by adding 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise into your bowl. Mayonnaise is the creamy base to this seafood-worthy blend.

2. Next, incorporate the tangy tomato element by pouring in 2 ¼ tablespoons of ketchup. The ketchup adds color and balance to the slightly thicker texture of the mayo.

3. Now it’s time to introduce some complexity to the mix by stirring in 1 ½ teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. This savory addition plays nicely with the other flavors while also adding a little something extra to keep your taste buds intrigued.

4. Add an acidic twist with 3 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This bright component cuts through the richness of the mayo and accentuates the taste of any seafood you pair it with.

5. Finally, bring on some heat with a dash (or two) of Tabasco sauce – about 1 teaspoon should do the trick! Feel free to adjust based on your personal spice tolerance.

6. Thoroughly mix all ingredients until combined and smooth, ensuring every flavor gets a chance to mingle in this lush dipping sauce.

7. Serve as it is (nothing wrong with that) or refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. 

What Can I Substitute For Cocktail Sauce?

If you’re out of cocktail sauce or looking for something different there are some flavorful alternatives you can use to pair perfectly well with your seafood.

Sriracha Aioli: For those who like a little spicy kick, Sriracha aioli is a perfect substitute. Simply mix mayonnaise with Sriracha hot sauce for an easy and delicious alternative that goes well with seafood or even as a dipping sauce for fries.

Tartar Sauce: A classic accompaniment to fried fish, tartar sauce is another great option to use when you don’t have cocktail sauce.

Remoulade: This one is popular in Louisiana cuisine and it combines mayonnaise with garlic, mustard, chopped pickles, herbs like parsley or tarragon, and sometimes capers. This flavorful sauce pairs beautifully with shrimp and crab cakes.

Yogurt and Dill: For a healthier twist on cocktail sauce substitutes, consider mixing plain Greek yogurt with chopped fresh dill and lemon juice. This creamy yet tangy combo complements seafood perfectly while keeping the calorie count low.

Mayonnaise and Hot Sauce or Ketchup: In a pinch for time? No problem! Simply mix your favorite mayonnaise with hot sauce or ketchup (depending on your spice preference) to create a quick and tasty dip for shrimp or other appetizers.

With these creative substitutions at your fingertips, you’ll never miss cocktail sauce again!

Is Cocktail Sauce The Same As Ketchup?

Cocktail sauce isn’t ketchup, but rather is made using ketchup alongside other ingredients like horseradish, hot sauces, and lemon juice.

Because of the more complex nature of cocktail sauce, you cannot use ketchup as a direct substitute for it. If you do, then you’d have a bland substitute because ketchup on its own doesn’t really bring that much to the table, especially when consumed with seafood.

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