How Ina Garten Roasts Shrimp For A Luxurious Shrimp Cocktail

Classic shrimp cocktail has long been associated with special occasions and fancy steakhouse dinners. As a consequence, however, it would appear this easy-to-love cold seafood appetizer may have lost its novelty, if not much of its mystique — especially for the home cook who craves adventure in the kitchen. Moreover, it's not like boiling shrimp and stirring together the expected cocktail sauce presents much of an opportunity to show off one's hard-won cooking skills to their dinner guests. 

Fortunately, celebrity chef and home entertaining guru Ina Garten has come up with a way of making shrimp cocktail come off not only new but also high-end — just as shrimp cocktail was always meant to. Even better, Garten's luxurious shrimp cocktail upgrade is blessedly simple, as she demonstrates for Food Network.

Instead of boiling those luscious crustaceans, Garten roasts them in a hot oven. The result is a sweeter and more tender mouthfeel than you're likely to get from boiling shrimp. Moreover, roasting offers an opportunity to add seasoning, which boiling does not. And, roasting allows the shrimp to brown and thereby benefit from the vaunted Maillard reaction, which can enhance the shrimp's flavor and essence with complex, caramelized yet savory notes. 

Unless you're a fan of lugging heavy pots of water from sink to stove and vice versa, Garten's method should feel less laborious than the standard boil.

Introduce your shrimp to your sheet pan

To roast your shrimp for a shrimp cocktail like Ina Garten, start as you would if you were planning to boil your shrimp. Everything works the same up through the brining, deveining, and removing of the shells. While Garten leaves the tail on because it's easy to grab hold of, you and your dining companions may decide you want to use a fork for this elevated version of the fancy dining staple. So, you can take that bit under advisement.

Next, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle generously with oil, and season as you wish (Garten keeps it simple, using just salt and pepper). Spread the shrimp into a single layer, and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for six to eight minutes (adjust to more or less for shrimp that are larger or smaller than jumbo size).

Garten recommends serving the roast shrimp warm, which she says will deliver the best tasting experience. The only issue with that is that not everyone enjoys grabbing warm shrimp with their hands, and this shrimp will come out of the oven with oil on board. That's why, as mentioned above, you might want to plan on serving your roasted shrimp cocktail with forks, rather than as finger food. 

To avoid mishaps, refresh yourself on these common mistakes we've all made with shrimp.