10 Delicious Prawn Cocktail Variations

All of us love a good seafood dish, especially prawn cocktail. But we often get bored with the same old recipe. There are many prawn cocktail variations that will spice up your next party!

prawn cocktail variations
Prawn cocktails in a champagne glass. Credit: canva

In this blog post, we’ll go over 10 delicious prawn cocktail variations to add some variety to your cooking repertoire.

What Is Prawn Cocktail?

Prawn Cocktail Description

Prawn cocktail, also known as shrimp dishes, is a dish that consists of cooked prawns in either Marie Rose sauce or cocktail sauce. It was famously known as dish in cocktail glasses, in an ice-cool savory sauce. Although nowadays people do not always use glass for this dish.

It was the most popular appetizer in Great Britain and the United States from the 1960s to the late 1980s.

It is typically made with mayonnaise and ketchup, although some variations use other ingredients such as mustard. The cookbook Le Cordon Bleu at Home offers recipes for different types of prawn cocktail sauce.

What’s Inside a Prawn Cocktail?

A simple recipe for shrimp is cooked shrimp. You can also put mayonnaise or tartar sauce on it. And you need to add salt and pepper to taste.

It is a dish served cold with sauce. It is made with tomatoes and mustard or mayonnaise.

Where Did Prawn Cocktail Originate from?

The dish was popular in the United States in the late nineteenth century. Some say it began during Prohibition in the 1920s, the bartenders needed to find something to put in those unused gin glasses.

Another history version takes place in San Francisco where a gold prospector “ordered a plate of oysters and dipped them in ketchup.”

In the United Kingdom, some people say that the invention of the prawn cocktail happened in 1960. It is often credited to British television chef Fanny Cradock. However, it is more likely that Mrs. Cradock popularized her recipe for British food which was not well known to most of Britain at the time.

Prawn Cocktail Sauces

What is Prawn Cocktail Sauce?

The sauce usually goes by the name “cocktail sauce,” and it is essentially ketchup plus mayonnaise in countries of the Commonwealth. In the United States, it just has ketchup and horseradish.

What is Marie Rose Sauce?

The basic and most common sauce often used in a prawn cocktail is known as Marie Rose sauce. Marie Rose sauce is a tangy sauce that is generally made with mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and some seasoning.

The flavors are creamy, tangy, and aromatic. Over time, there have been variations to spice up the flavors. Most commonly now, Marie Rose sauce will include Tabasco sauce to add a little extra heat.

10 Delicious Prawn Cocktail Variations

prawn cocktail
Prawn cocktail buffet. Credit: canva

There are many different variations on prawn cocktails to spice up your next party. You can use pre-cooked prawns or self-cooked prawns for your perfect dishes.

Here we’ll go over some of the most common ones!

Classic prawn cocktail recipe with Marie Rose sauce


  • pre-cooked prawns
  • baby gem lettuce
  • Marie Rose sauce (mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and Cayenne Pepper)


  1. Put mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  2. On a plate or in a cocktail glass, spread one tablespoon of prawn cocktail sauce on the bottom.
  3. Layer gem lettuce leaves on top of the prawn cocktail sauce.
  4. Scatter prawns on top of lettuce leaves and sauce.

Prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce (Jamie Oliver)


  • olive oil
  • ½ a clove of garlic
  • cayenne pepper
  • 8 unpeeled, large, raw tiger prawns
  • ¼ of an iceberg lettuce
  • ¼ of a cucumber
  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint
  • 1 small punnet of salad cress
  • 50 g peeled little prawns
  • 100 g mixed white and brown crabmeat
  • 50 g brown shrimps , optional
  • 1 lemon

Marie Rose Sauce

  • ½ a lemon
  • 1 swig of brandy
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaped teaspooon ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons free-range mayonnaise


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the crushed garlic and sauté until light brown, stirring often. Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper for extra spice, then add tiger prawns (you can butterfly them first if you like).
  2. Cook the prawns for 3 to 4 minutes (or until cooked through). Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. For the Marie rose sauce, combine the lemon juice with the remaining ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Shred the lettuce, dice the cucumber, and slice the tomato. Then layer in bowls or jars.
  5. Add peeled and cooked prawns to your dish. Then add some marie rose sauce on top. Finish with crabmeat, shrimps (if using) and cress.
  6. Add a little cayenne pepper and hang a hot prawn off the side of the bowl or jar. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Source: www.jamieoliver.com

Prawn cocktail with Avocado (Mary Berry)


  • 300g cooked peeled North Atlantic prawns, drained and dried
  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 x 85g bag mixed crisp lettuce leaves
  • 6 large shell-on cooked king prawns
  • 1 lemon cut into 6 wedges
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cocktail Sauce

  • 8 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 6 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp creamed horseradish
  • 1½ tsp tomato purée
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • a dash of sugar


  1. To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the peeled prawns.
  2. Peel the avocados and cut into small cubes or squares. Add lemon juice and pepper to taste.
  3. Put the lettuce in 6 glasses. Put avocado on top of the lettuce. Put prawn mixture on top of the avocado and garnish each glass with a large prawn.
  4. Serve with a small lemon wedge and brown bread and butter.

Source: www.maryberry.co.uk

Grilled prawns with cocktail sauce and tomatoes (Matt Moran)


  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 24 fresh prawns (green king prawns), heads removed, butterflied, deveined
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 100g mixed salad leaves (we used rocket and watercress)
  • 2 avocados, quartered lengthways, peeled
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)

Cocktail Sauce

  • 1/2 cup (150g) whole-egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco


  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C. Grease a baking tray and put parchment paper on it. Put tomatoes with the cut side up on the tray and put in the oven for 45 minutes. Leave them in there until they are slightly dehydrated (not wet). Let them cool completely when they are done cooking.
  2. For the cocktail sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven grill to high.
  4. Lay the prawns with the flesh-side up. Drizzle a bit of oil over them to cook them better. Grill the prawns for 4 minutes, or until they are just cooked through and slightly charred on top.
  5. Put salad leaves on a big plate. Put the tomatoes and avocado on top of them, and then put the grilled prawns on top of that.
  6. Sprinkle your dish with lemon zest. Sprinkle on paprika and drizzle on some oil to make it look nice. Serve with some cocktail sauce sprinkled with paprika.

Prawn cocktail with avocado and tomato salsa

prawn cocktail


  • 400g cooked peeled North Atlantic sized prawns, drained and dried
  • ½ an avocado, chopped into small cubes (optional)
  • Salt to taste

For the Salsa:

  • 150ml tomato passata or puree of your choice – we use Harry’s Red Pulp
  • ½ a red onion, finely chopped
  • A few coriander leaves and some parsley to finish off – we use much more than this!
  • 1 Tsp lime (to taste)
  • Salt to taste.

Cocktail Sauce:

  • 100g mayonnaise or plain natural yoghurt mixed with 50ml lime juice
  • ½ tsp Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Coriander leaves for decoration.


  1. To make the salsa, mix all of the ingredients together and season with salt to taste – we use much more lime too! Cover in clingfilm until ready to serve. For a quicker method, you can buy shop-bought salsa and just give it a good mix!
  2. To make the cocktail sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Chill until needed.
  3. Place prawns on an oven tray lined with kitchen paper and cook for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
  4. To assemble, divide the prawns between four glass bowl and top with a spoonful of salsa (if you want), then add in about five cubes of avocado if using.
  5. Spoon over some cocktail sauce, sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve immediately with brown bread on the side for dipping!

Other variations include:

Prawn cocktail with crab meat, shrimp, and cucumber

Prawn cocktail with smoked salmon and dill

Mango Prawn Cocktail

Prawn cocktail with chilli and lime

Tropical prawn cocktail

What to Eat with Prawn Cocktail?

prawn cocktail

Prawn cocktail goes well with a variety of dishes, including:

  • Rice Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing
  • Pea and Broad Bean Risotto
  • Grilled Fish on a Bed of Rice
  • Fried Chicken Tenders with Fries and Coleslaw.
  • Aioli
  • Baguettes or crusty bread to dip in the sauce
  • Potato crisps
  • Nachos and sour cream.


What is prawn cocktail sauce made of?

Prawn cocktail is a dish that has a sauce called Mary Rose. You can put mayonnaise, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce in the sauce.

Is Marie Rose sauce the same as Thousand Island?

Marie Rose Sauce is a type of Thousand Island Dressing. It is usually made from a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise. Marie Rose Sauce is often used with prawns/shrimp and Thousand Island Dressing is often used with Reuben sandwiches. You can try to make it lighter by adding some plain yogurt to the mayonnaise

What do you drink with a prawn cocktail?

Garlic loves  sauvignon blanc. But you can also make it with  Rueda, unoaked white Rioja, Godello, southern Italian whites like Fiano and Falanghina, or English Bacchus. These wines are nice. Try manzanilla or fino sherry

What do you eat after a prawn cocktail?

After the shrimp cocktails, we can have potatoes. They will be perfect. We can also have steak with crumbed calamari rings and scallops for dinner or use prawns to make a sauce for the steak.

What is Prawn Cocktail Crisps?

Prawn cocktail flavour crisps are one of the most popular kinds of this snack food. They were the second most popular in the UK in 2004, with 16% of the market share. You can find the tasty twists on any vending machine all over the country.

See also: Lamb Leg Roast Cooking Time: The Complete Guide