The Unexpected Creamy Ingredient That Can Replace Cocktail Sauce

At buffets, parties, and restaurants, classic shrimp cocktail is usually made of cooked seafood with a potent red sauce. Typically, you'll find ingredients like ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, chili powder, and sugar, which create a mix of sweet, spicy, and sour flavors that pair well with the shrimp. But if you're not a fan of tomato-based condiments with your seafood, there is an often overlooked (but just as delicious) alternative you can try.

If you have Thousand Island dressing, you have all you need to make a perfect shrimp cocktail. Unlike the spicier red sauce, you'll get a thicker condiment from the mayo in Thousand Island — and based on dips like tartar sauce and remoulade, we know that creamy ingredients work well with seafood. But with the dressing, you'll also get sweetness from the relish, acidity from the apple cider vinegar, and a little bite from the red onion and garlic. Plus, it typically still includes a little ketchup, although the flavor won't be as overpowering. You can either buy a bottle or make it yourself, depending on your tastebuds and preferences.

Build your own Thousand Island dipping sauce

Shrimp cocktail isn't the only place you can use Thousand Island dressing — flavors pair so well that it's often used on top of shrimp salads. One version in particular, called shrimp Louie, incorporates boiled eggs, iceberg lettuce, and occasionally crab. But when you're going with a shrimp cocktail, you'll likely want to poach your seafood, as is done when preparing the classic version of the dish. This means you'll cook it in a seasoned liquid at medium temperature until done.

If you're making your own version of Thousand Island dressing, there are a few variations you can include. Instead of apple cider vinegar, you can use almost any other type you like: red wine, champagne, white wine, or distilled white vinegar will all work. Instead of relish, you can substitute sweet chopped pickles, or dill ones if you'd like less of a sugary taste. Feel free to add any complimentary ingredients like capers, chopped gherkins, lemon juice, and fresh dill, or spices like chili powder, paprika, or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. And if you're not a pickle fan, you can omit the flavor entirely and use the rest of the ingredients to make Marie Rose sauce, a British condiment that's been used for shrimp cocktail since the 1960s. While this creamy shrimp dip may be unexpected, it's a combination that's been around for decades and is easy to make on your own.