Spicy and Tangy: Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe

Welcome to my recipe for Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Sanibel Island, Florida, you may have heard of Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. This iconic restaurant is known for its delicious seafood dishes, especially their signature Yucatan Shrimp.

One of the key components of their Yucatan Shrimp dish is the cocktail sauce. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and spicy, making it the ideal accompaniment to any seafood dish.

After numerous requests from customers, Doc Ford’s released their cocktail sauce recipe, and I’m excited to share it with you today. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also versatile and can be used for other dishes like shrimp ceviche or grilled shrimp.

So, grab your ingredients and let’s get started on making this mouthwatering Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Doc Ford's Shrimp Cocktail Sauce
Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

If you’re a shrimp lover like me, then you’re in for a real treat with this Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce recipe. This sauce is perfect for dipping succulent Yucatan shrimp, grilled shrimp, or even shrimp ceviche cocktail. Trust me; you’ll love it!

What makes this cocktail sauce so special is its unique blend of flavors. It’s a combination of chili sauce, fresh lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce that creates a tangy and slightly sweet taste. It’s not too spicy, so even those who are sensitive to heat can enjoy it.

This signature Yucatan sauce is the perfect accompaniment to your shrimp cocktail, and it’s easy to make. The recipe only requires a few ingredients, and you probably have most of them in your pantry. It’s a quick and easy way to add some flavor to your meal.

But what makes this recipe even better is its versatility. You can use it on deli platters, as a dipping sauce for appetizers, or even as a marinade. The possibilities are endless!

Plus, if you’re hosting a party or event, this sauce is perfect for catering. You can make a large batch in advance and serve it alongside your platters. It’s a crowd-pleaser that will impress your guests.

If you’re a fan of the Doc Ford Rum Bar & Grille, then you know how delicious their Yucatan shrimp are. This recipe is a great way to recreate that same flavor at home. You can enjoy the taste of Sanibel Island right in your own kitchen.

In conclusion, you’ll love this recipe because it’s easy to make, versatile, and has a unique blend of flavors that will elevate your shrimp cocktail to the next level. It’s perfect for any occasion, and your guests will love it. So, why not give it a try and taste the magic of Doc Ford’s Yucatan shrimp cocktail sauce?

Ingredient List

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s go through the list of ingredients you’ll need to make Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce. Don’t worry, the ingredients are easy to find and you may already have some of them in your pantry.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of horseradish
  • 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small onion, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic, minced

The combination of chili sauce, ketchup, and horseradish gives this sauce a unique and delicious flavor. The Worcestershire sauce and fresh lemon juice add depth and brightness. The grated onion and minced garlic help to balance the flavors and create a well-rounded sauce. All of these ingredients can be found at your local grocery store or online. Make sure to use fresh lemon juice for the best results. You can also substitute the unsalted butter for olive oil if you prefer a healthier option.

The Recipe How-To

Preparing the Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Step 1: Chop the onion

I start by finely chopping 1/2 an onion. This gives the sauce a sweet and savory flavor that complements the shrimp.

Step 2: Mix the ingredients

Next, in a mixing bowl, I combine 1 cup of chili sauce, 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce, the chopped onion, and 1 teaspoon of Doc Ford’s Yucatan Sauce.

Step 3: Add the Signature Yucatan Shrimp

After mixing the ingredients together, I add 1 lb of cooked and chilled Doc Ford’s Yucatan Shrimp to the bowl. The shrimp is perfectly cooked and seasoned with our signature Yucatan spices, which complement the cocktail sauce perfectly.

Serving the Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

To serve, I simply place the shrimp and cocktail sauce in a bowl or on a platter, garnish with fresh lemon wedges, and serve with garlic butter or unsalted butter on the side.

Substitutions and Variations

If you’re looking to mix things up, there are a few substitutions and variations you can try with this recipe. For example, you can use grilled shrimp instead of boiled, or you can add a bit of rum to the cocktail sauce for a tropical twist.

Tips for Perfect Results

For the best results, make sure to use fresh ingredients, including the shrimp and lemon juice. Additionally, don’t be afraid to adjust the amount of Yucatan sauce depending on how spicy you like your cocktail sauce.


Q: Can I make the cocktail sauce ahead of time?
A: Yes, you can make the sauce up to 2 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Q: Can I use frozen shrimp for this recipe?
A: Yes, you can use frozen shrimp, just make sure to thaw it completely before using.


This shrimp cocktail sauce recipe is the perfect addition to any seafood lover’s repertoire. With its sweet and savory flavor, it’s sure to impress your guests and leave them wanting more. So go ahead, give this recipe a try and see for yourself why Doc Ford’s has become a staple in the Sanibel Island food scene.

Substitutions and Variations

If you’re looking to switch things up or don’t have all the ingredients on hand, don’t worry. This Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce recipe is versatile and can be adapted to suit your taste preferences.

– Onion: If you don’t have an onion, you can substitute it with shallots or skip it altogether.

– Fresh Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice is recommended for the best taste, but if you don’t have any, you can use bottled lemon juice.

– Worcestershire Sauce: This recipe calls for Worcestershire sauce, but you can substitute it with soy sauce or fish sauce for a different flavor.

– Chili Sauce: This recipe calls for chili sauce, but you can substitute it with ketchup or tomato sauce for a milder taste.

– Garlic Butter: For an extra kick of flavor, try adding garlic butter to the sauce. You can make garlic butter by melting unsalted butter and adding minced garlic.

– Yucatan Sauce: If you want to add a bit of heat to the sauce, try using Yucatan sauce instead of chili sauce. It’s a signature sauce from the Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille in Sanibel Island, Florida and pairs well with grilled shrimp and shrimp ceviche cocktail.

– Rum: For a unique twist, try adding a splash of rum to the sauce. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille is known for their Rum Bar and adding a bit of rum to the sauce can give it that extra kick.

– Grilled Shrimp: This recipe is perfect for shrimp cocktail, but you can also use it as a marinade for grilled shrimp. The signature Yucatan shrimp recipe from Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille is a must-try.

Whether you’re hosting a party or just want to add some flavor to your everyday meals, this shrimp cocktail sauce recipe is sure to impress. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different substitutions and variations to find your perfect flavor combination.

Serving and Pairing

Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe is a versatile condiment that can elevate any seafood dish to the next level. This sauce is perfect for serving with succulent, juicy Yucatan shrimp cocktail, but it also pairs well with grilled shrimp or shrimp ceviche cocktail. The tangy flavor of the sauce complements the sweetness of the shrimp, making for a perfect balance of flavors.

To serve, arrange the shrimp on a platter with a bowl of the cocktail sauce in the center. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parsley for an added touch of color and freshness. This dish is perfect for entertaining, as it is sure to impress your guests with its vibrant colors and delicious flavors.

If you want to take it up a notch, pair the shrimp cocktail with a refreshing cocktail. A classic margarita or a cold beer is a great choice to complement the dish. For a non-alcoholic option, try serving it with a citrusy mocktail or iced tea.

The possibilities are endless with Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe. It can also be used as a dip for chips or vegetables, or as a marinade for grilled chicken or fish. The bright flavors of the sauce make it a perfect addition to any seafood dish, making it a must-try for any seafood lover.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

One of the great things about Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed. This makes it perfect for parties or gatherings where you want to have everything prepared in advance.

To make the sauce ahead of time, simply follow the recipe instructions and store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week, but it’s best to use it within three to four days for optimal freshness.

If you have leftovers, you can store them in the same way, but make sure to use a clean spoon each time you take some out. This will prevent any bacteria from getting into the sauce and spoiling it.

When it’s time to serve the shrimp cocktail, you can reheat the sauce by placing it in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir it occasionally until it’s heated through and then remove it from the heat. You can also reheat it in the microwave, but be sure to use a microwave-safe container and stir it frequently to prevent hot spots.

If you’re serving the shrimp cocktail cold, there’s no need to reheat the sauce. Simply take it out of the refrigerator and give it a good stir before serving.

Overall, Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe is a versatile and convenient dish that can be made ahead of time, stored easily, and reheated quickly. Whether you’re hosting a party or just looking for a quick and easy appetizer, this recipe is sure to please.

Tips for Perfect Results

Now that you know how to make Doc Ford’s shrimp cocktail sauce recipe, let me share with you some tips to ensure that you achieve perfect results every time.

1. Use fresh ingredients: The key to a delicious shrimp cocktail sauce is to use fresh and high-quality ingredients. Make sure that your lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, and onion are all fresh.

2. Adjust the spiciness level: If you prefer a spicier cocktail sauce, add more chili sauce or hot sauce. On the other hand, if you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of chili sauce or hot sauce.

3. Chill the sauce: For the best flavor, chill the cocktail sauce for at least an hour before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together and create a more cohesive taste.

4. Serve with the perfect shrimp: While this sauce goes well with any type of shrimp, I highly recommend using Yucatan shrimp for the ultimate flavor combination. These shrimp are known for their sweet flavor and firm texture, which pairs perfectly with the tangy and spicy cocktail sauce.

5. Don’t overcook the shrimp: To ensure that your shrimp are perfectly cooked, grill or boil them for just a few minutes until they turn pink. Overcooking the shrimp will result in a tough and rubbery texture.

6. Pair with the right drink: For the perfect pairing, serve your shrimp cocktail with a refreshing drink like a mojito or a margarita. These drinks complement the spicy and tangy flavors of the cocktail sauce.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make the perfect shrimp cocktail sauce every time. Whether you’re serving it as an appetizer at a party or as a refreshing snack on a hot summer day, this recipe is sure to impress.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you are a seafood lover and enjoy shrimp cocktail, then this Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe is a must-try for you. With its combination of flavors from the onion, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, and fresh lemon juice, it is sure to become your go-to recipe for any shrimp dish. This recipe is easy to make and can be customized to your taste preferences.

Whether you are hosting a party or just want to enjoy some delicious shrimp cocktail at home, this sauce recipe is perfect for any occasion. You can also pair it with other seafood dishes such as shrimp ceviche, grilled shrimp, or even as a dipping sauce for your favorite deli platters.

So, head to your local Sam’s Club deli or seafood market to grab some Yucatan shrimp and give this recipe a try. You won’t regret it! And if you happen to be in Sanibel Island or St. Petersburg, make sure to visit Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille to try their signature Yucatan sauce. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Doc Ford’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce Recipe

Randy Wayne White is a fisherman and author. He has written a New York Times Best selling series of novels based on the character Doc Ford, all relating to SW Florida. He actually named his restaurant for Doc Ford. This is his recipe for cocktail sauce and it is really good!

  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 2 -4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 -3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion
  • 3 drops hot sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients and refrigeerate for at least an hour to chill.
  2. (Doc Ford’s Chipotle Hot Sauce (among others) can be purchased online at www.docford.com).
< 15 Mins, Easy, Healthy, Low Cholesterol, Low Protein, Sauces

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