Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Mexican shrimp cocktail, or “coctel de camarones”, is a popular and refreshing Mexican appetizer that consists of shrimp, avocado and cilantro swimming in a spicy (or mild) tomato broth.  This zesty shrimp appetizer is a staple menu item in Southern parts of the US because it’s so light and refreshing during the heat of the summer!

Mexican shrimp cocktails in glass bowls with lime garnish and tortilla chip
For the best flavor, use fresh shrimp; use frozen if you can’t get fresh

Why you’ll love this recipe!

This shrimp cocktail is on just about every Tex-Mex restaurant in Texas. It’s cool, refreshing and a healthy alternative to the typical tortilla chips and salsa.

  • Quick and Easy – takes 5 minutes to cook or use frozen cooked shrimp
  • Light and flavorful – make the tomato base as mild or spicy as you like
  • Versatile – serve this as an appetizer or side dish to your favorite Mexican food!

Here’s what you’ll need

The ingredients are simple! For best results, use fresh boiled shrimp in this Mexican appetizer.

The tomato base is usually a tomato-base, like V-8 or plain tomato juice and is seasoned with salt, pepper and perhaps a dash of pepper sauce or Tabasco. If you like a spicy shrimp cocktail, you can use a spicy tomato drink like ZingZang or any brand of spicy bloody mary mix.

Other ingredients are: chopped white onion, avocado, jalapeno and cilantro with a dash of lime and Cajun or Creole seasoning.

How to make Coctel de Camarones (Mexican Shrimp Cocktail)

You’ll find traditional Mexican shrimp cocktail served in cold beer mugs or in a cold glass. 

  • Chill serving glasses or bowls in fridge for best results
  • Boil shrimp in seasoned water; remove and chill for 15 minutes (you can skip this step and use frozen cooked shrimp-just make sure it’s good and thawed)
  • Pour tomato juice into large bowl; add shrimp, onion, avocado, lime juice, sugar, water, cilantro and a chopped fresh jalapeno (optional) 
  • Use a slotted spoon and scoop shrimp, onion and avocado evenly among serving glasses
  • Pour tomato juice into glasses
  • Season with salt, pepper or pepper sauce and serve chilled


How much shrimp per serving?

The amount is a personal preference and it also depends on the size of the serving bowl or glass.

I usually allow about 1/2 cup of juice, 4-6 big shrimp (or 8 smaller ones) and about two tablespoons of chopped avocado per glass.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail with a side of tortilla chips

Does Mexican Shrimp Cocktail contain alcohol?

Even though this recipe is referred to as a “cocktail,” it typically does not contain alcohol. I suppose you could add a splash of vodka to the recipe, making a Bloody Mary type cocktail, but traditionally this South of the Border Mexican appetizer has no booze in it.

What is the tomato base?

You can use whatever tomato mixture you prefer. Some like 100% juice, while others prefer a vegetable juice-blend. Other ideas include using a Bloody Mary mixer of your preference, or even combining a little Clamato™ juice.

What is Clamato™ juice?

Clamato juice is a tomato cocktail drink that is a combination of tomato and clam juice. It has a slightly salty, clam flavor to it; it’s not strong, but if you don’t like clams, you can omit it from the recipe.

Can I use frozen shrimp?

Use frozen raw or cooked shrimp. If you use frozen raw, boil them and season with a semi-spicy seasoning mix, such as a Creole or Cajun.

If you use frozen cooked shrimp, rinse and season with a little Creole or Cajun seasoning – (this is optional)

Do the avocados need to be ripe?

Select an avocado that is not quite ripe. Since you’ll dice the avocado, a “less than ripe” avocado works great because it holds up well in the acidic juice.

Here’s how to dice an avocado

Cut the avocado in half; use a sharp knife and score it; scoop diced pieces out with a big spoon!Instructions and visual for how to dice an avocado

What kind of serving bowl or glass should I use?

Often, in Mexican restaurants, you’ll find this filling Mexican cocktail served in a big chlled beer goblet or beer mug. If you don’t have either of these, you can use a parfait dish or a large drinking glass. The serving vessel can be anything really, just make sure it’s chilled!

Mexican shrimp cocktails in glass bowls with lime garnish and tortilla chip

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail pairs beautifully with enchiladas, tamales, fajitas or chips and guacamole!

More Mexican recipes

Shrimp and avocado in tomato broth garnished with lime wedge and tortilla chip

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Seasoned shrimp in a spicy tomato-based juice with fresh avocado, lime, cilantro, onions and jalapeno!
5 from 8 votes
Print Rate
Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Chill Shrimp and Tomato Juice: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 1/2-cup servings
Author: Anecia Hero


  • 3 cups tomato juice See Recipe Notes
  • ½ cup Clamato juice See Recipe Notes
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 lb. shrimp cooked; See Recipe Notes
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes peeled, diced and seeded
  • 2 large avocados chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons white onion finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (you'll use about ¼ of the bunch)


  • Cook, peel and devein shrimp; drain, cover and refrigerate for 5 minutes (See recipe notes)
  • Chill serving glasses
  • Chop cilantro, onion, tomato and jalapeno (optional)
  • Pour tomato juice, sugar, water, Clamato and lime juice into large bowl; add chopped tomatoes, onion and avocado
  • Season tomato mixture to your liking: add salt, pepper, Tabasco or pepper sauce now
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes
  • Divide shrimp evenly into serving glasses; pour tomato mixture into each glass; spoon and pour tomato mixture over shrimp
  • Garnish with a squeeze of lime and more cilantro if you like; serve chilled


Tomato Juice Mixture
  • Tomato juice can be straight tomato juice, or a combination of juices, like vegetable juice and Clamato, or a spicy Bloody Mary mixer. Mix your tomato juice to your preference--you can always add:
    • salt, pepper, Tabasco, or another type of pepper sauce
  • The amount of tomato juice per serving is a personal preference. I prefer more shrimp and goodies than juice, so this recipe allows for about 1/2 cup tomato juice per serving
  • Fresh is best, but frozen is second best.
  • If you use raw frozen, you'll need to cook them first
  • If you use cooked frozen, rinse in colander refrigerate them
How to cook fresh or frozen shrimp
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil
  • Add in 2 tablespoons of Creole seasoning (optional)
  • Add shrimp to water; cook 5-8 minutes until they are pink/orange
  • Refrigerate until cool
  • Peel shells and tails; place in tomato mixture; resume recipe

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 255kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 18gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 191mgSodium: 679mgPotassium: 780mgFiber: 6gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 1049IUVitamin C: 42mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 3mg
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  1. 5 stars
    Perfect meal idea!
    Quick Easy Yummy
    Love Love Love this simple recipe!
    Refreshing in this 100° Texas summer heat!