Summer is here and parties are popping up everywhere. Celebrations for graduations, Father’s Day and for just reconnecting with friends will happen throughout the month. As New Englanders, taking those parties outside helps us make the most of the summer weather. What’s a simple, make-ahead dish to bring to a backyard cookout or pot-luck dinner? Go old-school elegant with shrimp cocktail.

It is simple, refreshing and easy to bring to a party. All the preparation is done ahead of time, so all that is left to do at party time is unwrap the platter and soak up the appreciation of your friends and family.

The sizing of shrimp can be confusing, terms like “jumbo” or “colossal” aren’t specific. A better way is to look at the number of shrimp per pound. That is also helpful for planning how many people can partake. For example, using 21-25 shrimp in this recipe yield 3-4 shrimp per person for 20 people.


Shrimp Cocktail for a Crowd

3 lbs. frozen 21-25 size shrimp, cleaned and deveined, with tails on. Wild-caught, domestic shrimp are best.

½ Cup Kosher salt

Parsley stems, cut from 1 bunch

1 lemon, sliced

About 2 Tablespoons whole peppercorns

About 1 Gallon water

About 8 ounces cocktail sauce


In a large pot with a lid, bring water, salt, parsley, lemon and peppercorns to a boil. Add frozen shrimp and stir. Cover pot and cook about 7 minutes, until shrimp are pink and starting to curl. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl about ½ full with ice and set a medium size bowl into the ice.  When shrimp are cooked, drain into a colander and put contents of colander – shrimp, lemon, parsley, peppercorns – into the medium size bowl and put both bowls (with shrimp) into the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Do not rinse shrimp.

Arrange shrimp on a platter with cocktail sauce, lemon wedges and garnishes of your choice.

Serves about 20 people, 3-4 shrimp each.

Shrimp Cocktail from   

Shrimp Cocktail from