Homemade cocktail sauce is a cold, tomato-based condiment with the pungent bite of horseradish. It’s a terrific dipping sauce that’s easy to make. It involves just four ingredients and a bit of stirring.
There’s nothing like the right sauce to bring a dish to life. Cocktail sauce has a zing & bite that makes you want to keep dipping.
And while you could go to the store and buy a jar, homemade cocktail sauce is deliciously easy to make.
Homemade cocktail sauce ingredients
It is made with just four ingredients. But the flavor is so much more than the sum of its parts.
It has a kick of heat from horseradish and hot sauce that makes it uniquely addictive.
I prefer to use natural ketchup, which uses cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
Trader Joe’s is my regular brand. It’s made with tomato puree, cane sugar, vinegar, salt, and spices.
However, you can use any kind that you have in the refrigerator.
Prepared horseradish is what gives cocktail sauce its unique & specific flavor. While there are some cocktail sauce ingredients you could omit (like Worcestershire or hot sauce), ketchup and horseradish are musts.
Prepared horseradish is made with vinegar, salt, and grated horseradish root. The horseradish root provides a nose-clearing bite. It has a warmth that’s similar to wasabi.
The type of prepared horseradish that I buy is sold in the refrigerated section, usually near the mayonnaise. (Bubbies is my favorite brand.)
Shelf stable varieties are also available in the center aisles near the condiments, but they tend to have more preservatives.
(Have horseradish leftover? Mix it with vegan mayo for a creamy spread that’s great on a French dip sandwich.)
Vegan Worcestershire sauce
A dash of Worcestershire sauce adds umami undertones to cocktail sauce.
Many brands include anchovies, which makes them not vegan. However, you can easily find vegan varieties in most natural grocery stores.
It’s typically sold near the ketchup, barbecue sauce, and other shelf stable sauces. I recommend Wizard’s or Annie’s.
For this dip, I like to use jalapeño hot sauce from Trader Joe’s. It has a nice kick of heat and zing of flavor. However, any hot sauce that you enjoy can be used here.
And if you don’t like spicy food, leave it out.
How to make it
In a small bowl, combine the following:
- Prepared horseradish
- Hot sauce
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce
Make it your own
- Replace ketchup with chili sauce
- Add more or less horseradish to adjust the amount of bite
- Add more or less hot sauce to adjust the amount of heat
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice for more brightness
- Add celery salt or diced celery
- Add minced garlic
- Add salt and pepper
Ways to use cocktail sauce
Even though cocktail sauce is often referred to as seafood sauce or shrimp sauce, there’s no reason it can’t be used & adored by vegans too. (Just be sure to use vegan Worcestershire sauce when you make it!)
It’s perfect for dunking vegan fried shrimp made from hearts of palm.
Need more ideas? Use it as a dipping sauce for any of the following:
- Fried zucchini
- Fried artichoke hearts
- Fishless filets
- Fried mushrooms
- Onion rings
- Hush puppies (from Glue & Glitter)
- Use it as a veggie platter dip
How long will it last?
Homemade cocktail sauce will last at least a couple of weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator.
All of the ingredients have a really long shelf life. (Think about how long you keep a bottle of ketchup or hot sauce!)
So if you’re planning on serving this sauce for a dinner party, it’s a good recipe to make ahead of time.
Homemade cocktail sauce
- In a small bowl, combine ketchup, prepared horseradish, hot sauce, and vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- Serve the sauce right away, or transfer it to a covered container & refrigerate.