How Do I Choose the Best Shrimp Dipping Sauce?

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  • Written By: Lynelle Harmon
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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Since most people opt to eat shrimp as a finger food, a complementary dipping sauce a great condiment to serve alongside this dish. The best shrimp dipping sauce depends largely on the type of shrimp used and your own personal flavor preferences. While grilled or breaded shrimp pair with most sauces, other specialty shrimp needs to be paired with sauces that won’t compete with its flavors. Sauces can be bought already prepared, but homemade sauces offer the best variety, and the host can also provide a variety of sauces from which diners can sample.

The most common shrimp dipping sauce both prepared and made readily available in stores is cocktail sauce. It combines ketchup, horseradish, and lemon juice for a milder, yet slightly spicy sauce. The name comes from the fact that it is best served with chilled cocktail shrimp, though it can also pair well with warm grilled shrimp. If you are short on time, this is the most easy option for you to choose and it will be the sauce that most people expect to eat with their shrimp.


If you have more time, you can easily customize your shrimp dipping sauce as well starting with a buttermilk and sour cream base. The dip ingredients can be tailored according to taste preference or whatever ingredients are on hand. Spiciness can be added with chopped jalapeño or chilies, but it should be balanced with the acid of lime juice. Garlic, chives, and dill also make for a flavorful, more savory dipping sauce.

With specific types of shrimp, a complementary dipping sauce is essential in order to not distract from the preparation or seasonings. For example, coconut shrimp pairs well with acidic fruit-flavored sauces that won’t add too much sweetness. For this type of sauce, pineapple jam can be combined with lime juice and chopped peppers for a slightly sweet, yet spicy shrimp dipping sauce. Orange juice, ginger, and garlic can also be combined with a cornstarch thickener for an alternative citrus sauce.

Asian flavors can also be added to a shrimp dipping sauce to work with a meal that includes this type of cuisine. Sweet and sour shrimp dipping sauce is another option that can be made with rice vinegar, brown sugar, and ketchup, as well as a splash of soy sauce. Cornstarch can thickens the mix to make it adhere to the shrimp for use with grilled or savory breaded shrimp. Thai cuisine fans can make a spicy dipping sauce that will work for any type of shrimp, including coconut or cocktail. Asian flavors come from Thai chili sauce, fish sauce, and red chilies, which are added to base ingredients of ginger, rice vinegar, and ketchup.

Those struggling to choose the best dipping sauce may want to serve several types with the shrimp. Diners could choose from a creamy, citrus or Asian-style sauce or sample them all. For larger dinner parties, multiple styles of shrimp could also be served in order to accounts for the widest range of taste preferences.


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If you just want a standard cocktail sauce, invite guests to make their own! Have small bowls handy and provide ketchup, chopped horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and lemon slices ready to go. Each guest can then mix up their preferred cocktail sauce concoction. The ingredients are easy to find, so this solution makes sense when you have a lot of people at the house.

Seafood restaurants on the Gulf Coast keep these ingredients on their tables, and many places also provide saltine crackers, so guests can mix their sauces, then enjoy it on crackers before their food arrives. Instant appetizer, and tastes much better than you might expect.

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