This 5-Minute Shrimp Dinner Is My Ultimate Summer Miracle Meal

published Jul 25, 2019
Shrimp Cocktail for Dinner

The easiest, most luxurious hot-weather meal involves exactly zero cooking: just open a bag of shrimp and swish up a quick cocktail sauce.


Prep5 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Miracle Meals are the family-friendly dinners that save you time, money, and effort — but not at the expense of taste. They’re dishes that allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the people you love. This month’s Miracle Meal comes from Faith Durand, Kitchn’s editor-in-chief.

The internet is the land of over-promise, under-deliver. We’re promised 30-minute, 10-minute, five-minute meals and honestly, there’s usually a catch. But this fast meal is — I promise! Cross my heart! — just as fast as I say it is. Because, when you get right down to it, all you need to do is open a bag. (A bag of shrimp.) That’s right — have you ever considered just eating a bag of shrimp for dinner, with cocktail sauce? It’s pretty much the most ingenious summer dinner ever: dead easy, a little fancy, but still cheaper than takeout. (And pretty good for you too, if you want to eat low-carb and high-protein!)

I first did this in the wintertime, when I had a bag of shrimp left over from a holiday party (to my happy surprise, since usually shrimp is the first treat to go!). Jumbo shrimp are not cheap; I paid about $22 for a 24-ounce bag, so I certainly didn’t want it to languish in the freezer.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

So I thawed the shrimp in the fridge overnight, opened some cocktail sauce, put it out and called it dinner. My husband was elated. I mean, shrimp cocktail is simply the best appetizer, right? Cold, sweet shrimp dunked in horseradish cocktail sauce — a little spicy and tangy. Why not make a whole meal out of it?

Since then, we’ve done this many times. Instead of a 10-dollar pizza, I keep a bag of shrimp as a luxurious backup Miracle Meal in the freezer for the nights I just can’t manage cooking.

To serve, I combine some store-bought cocktail sauce with extra horseradish for a zippy kick. If you want to make your own cocktail sauce, though, knock yourself out.

I add in a salad kit and sometimes a loaf of local bread with butter to round out the meal. A little crisp white wine or a really good margarita (here’s my favorite) and you’re all set.

Yes, a bag of shrimp is a bit of a splurge, but when you contrast it to paying over $30 with delivery fee and tip for takeout for two, it makes sense.

I keep an eye on my calorie budget too, personally, and if that is something you track or care about, 12 ounces of cooked shrimp has less than 350 calories plus way more protein than you even need in a day.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The Miracle Moment of this meal is just how utterly no-cook it is. Most no-cook meals are, to be frank, oversold or depend on a lot of packaged ingredients. This one is whole food-driven and a little luxurious to boot.

What’s your family’s Miracle Meal? Share in the comments below!

Shrimp Cocktail for Dinner

The easiest, most luxurious hot-weather meal involves exactly zero cooking: just open a bag of shrimp and swish up a quick cocktail sauce.

Prep time 5 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Info


  • 24 ounces

    frozen cooked, peeled, and cleaned extra-large shrimp

  • 12 ounces

    prepared cocktail sauce, such as Al's or Heinz

  • 2 tablespoons

    prepared horseradish, or to taste


  1. Thaw the 24 ounces of shrimp if frozen: leave in the refrigerator overnight, or place the shrimp in a colander and run under cold water for about 10 minutes.

  2. Whisk the 12 ounces cocktail sauce and 2 tablespoons horseradish (or to taste) together. Serve immediately, with a separate dish for discarded tails.

Recipe Notes

To make this a meal: For an easy dinner, serve with a salad kit and bread and butter.

Cocktail sauce alternatives: Not into traditional cocktail sauce? Try one of these inventive, two-ingredient shrimp dips instead. They include Curried Yogurt Sauce, Sour Cream-Chipotle Sauce, and more.

Get the recipes: Five 2-Ingredient Sauces for Shrimp Cocktail