Cocktail Sauce – Nutritional Facts and Health Benefits

Parul Dube

June 30, 2022

Cocktail Sauce, also known as Seafood Sauce, is a cold or room temperature condiment. You can serve and consume it with seafood like shrimps, prawns, oysters, etc. It is a popular and tasty sauce and is the main appetizer accompaniment in many restaurants, buffets, and dinner parties. Also, the cocktail sauce adds flavour and taste and uplifts bland food. 

Cocktail Sauces originated in the United States as a cold condiment for oysters and shrimp in the 19th century. Even now, cocktail sauces are a crucial gravy with seafood to enrich these appetizers. Cocktail sauce is primarily associated with prawn cocktails, but it can add flavour and taste to any shellfish.

Cocktail Sauce is healthy, but it also has several nutritional values and health benefits. This tomato-based condiment is fat-free and adds advantages to the other ingredients like garlic, lemon, horseradish, etc. However, the sauce has high amounts of sugar and salt in it. So, it would help if you preferred not to consume higher quantities of Cocktail Sauces than recommended. 

Nutritional Properties of Cocktail Sauce

As per USDA, ¼ serving or 69 grams of Cocktail sauce condiment contains the following nutritional properties:

  • Energy: 116 kcal
  • Protein: 1.45 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.5 g
  • Fibre: 1.4 g 
  • Sugars: 23.2 g 
  • Sodium: 1190 mg

Nutritional Facts of Cocktail Sauce

The federal guidelines recommend that one can intake up to ¼ cup or 69 grams of cocktail sauce a day. More than the recommended amount is not healthy for anyone, especially those with diabetes, as a single serving alone has the presence of more than 16 grams of sugar. More than this recommended amount is also not suitable for anyone as Cocktail Sauce has higher amounts of sodium. Anything in excess is bad. So, apart from such negativities, there are several advantages that Cocktail Sauce can provide you. 

Let us discuss such nutritional benefits further. 


A single serving of Cocktail Sauce alone contains around 23.2 grams of carbohydrates, making it a rich source of nutrition. Carbs are responsible for providing the human body with the energy that we require to perform daily tasks. It is ingredients like tomato concentrate, molasses, and corn syrup in a Cocktail Sauce that make it a rich source of carbohydrates. However, if you wish to lower the sugar content of your homemade cocktail sauce, you can cut down the use of molasses and switch to ketchup with low sugar content instead of tomato concentrate. 


Cocktail sauce is a condiment, unlike many others, with zero fat content. There are zero grams of fat in a serving of this seafood sauce, and hence it is the best option for anyone trying to reduce the fat content in their body. However, using cocktail sauce alone as a condiment is not recommended for people who are low on fat as it is one of the essential nutrients in our body. However, you can add extra ingredients based on your needs to increase the fat content in your cocktail sauce. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Cocktail sauce is not a very rich source of vitamins and minerals. Their presence, especially vitamins in Cocktail Sauce, is almost negligible. However, it is a rich source of minerals like sodium, calcium, iron, etc. For example, a single serving of Cocktail Sauce (69 g or ¼ cup) contains 1190 milligrams of sodium, 20 milligrams of calcium, 0.718 milligrams of iron, 6 milligrams of Vitamin C, and 100 IU of Vitamin A. 


A single serving of cocktail sauce alone contains more than 1.45 grams of protein. The sauce, thus, sure is a good source of protein, but consuming Cocktail sauce alone cannot provide you with enough protein. Instead, you can use the seafood sauce and other protein-rich shellfish to make your food genuinely protein-rich. 

The Different Varieties of Cocktail Sauce

Like any food item that may change its form on getting adapted to different parts of the world, the Cocktail sauce also has other forms or varieties: the more your travel, the more significant the change. In North American areas, especially in the United States and Canada. Sometimes sauces like Worcestershire and Tabasco are also added along with Lemon juice to improve the taste of Seafood Sauce. 

In countries like the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Belgium, etc., mayonnaise is mixed with tomato concentrate to make cocktail sauce. In Belgium and a few other countries, a dash of whiskey is often added to Cocktail Sauce and served with steamed shrimp and seafood on half the shelf. Countries like Australia serve the sauce with fish and chips, unlike the conventional methods. All these countries have added their personal touch to the sauce and enjoy the unique blend of flavours.

Health Facts about Cocktail Sauce

Cocktail Sauce is a delicious condiment that you can have with your shellfish appetisers. It is a prevalent choice in many restaurants and buffets. Serve the sauce with oysters, prawns, etc. It is because of its capability to enhance the taste, flavour, and palpability of fried dishes, including eggs, raw shrimp, fried mushrooms, omelettes, etc. The tasty cocktail sauce can satisfy us, and some studies show that the satisfaction of consuming something alone makes us feel less deprived. This consumption can benefit those people looking to control their weight and get fitter. 

Like any other food item, Cocktail Sauce also has advantages and disadvantages. For example, one of the key ingredients of Cocktail Sauce, tomatoes, have an enzyme called carotenoid in them. These are responsible for giving the red colour to tomatoes. Some studies have found that carotenoids may have the capability to prevent certain types of cancers in people, like lung and prostate cancers. 

Cocktail Sauce also contains small amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and lycopene, provided by its different ingredients. The antioxidant lycopene is powerful enough to help reduce and eliminate the free radicals that are otherwise capable of destroying DNA and cell structures. This way, lycopene makes us less prone to ageing stressors. Therefore, consuming Cocktail Sauce can be a cause of increasing your lycopene levels. 

Cocktail Sauce has its disadvantages as well. The high sodium level in the condiment warns us to consume it in moderation. Cocktail Sauce can be extremely dangerous to those with specific medical issues that require them to keep a low-sodium diet. Cocktail Sauce is also not a preferred choice for those who have diabetes. It is so because of the high level of sugar in the condiment. A serving of Cocktail Sauce contains around 23.2 grams, which is not acceptable for those with diabetes. 

Allergies caused by Cocktail Sauce

The chances of one getting allergies because of Cocktail Sauce is significantly less. One can get an allergic reaction due to the mixture of ingredients in the sauce, but that is just an intolerance to the sauce’s spices. It is an actual allergic reaction, and the condition is popularly known as ‘Spice Intolerance’ or ‘Oral Allergy Syndrome,’ as identified by several studies. You will understand if you have such a condition when you notice symptoms like coughing, itching at the mouth, and skin rash. 

You can, however, get allergic reactions by consuming shellfish that cocktail sauce accompanies. Of all the food allergies that appear in adults, the observation is that 0.5% to 2.5% of them get shellfish allergies. You can identify your allergic reaction as shellfish allergy if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Muscular Pain
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Vomiting

Shellfish allergic reactions can be quite dangerous to some, as studies state that it is one of those foods that can cause food-related anaphylaxis. ‘Anaphylaxis’ is the term used to call for severe allergic reactions that can be life-threatening to individuals exposed to substances that they are very allergic to. The condition can occur in a few minutes or even just a few seconds on exposure to the allergen. 

Cocktail Sauce: Simple Recipe

Making Cocktail Sauce is quite simple. It is only a combination of simple ingredients like ketchup or tomato concentration, horseradish, lemon juice, and other hot sauces like Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. You can also add mayonnaise based on the convenience and preference of the cook and those who have it. 

Traditional Cocktail Sauce: Homemade Recipe

It is convenient to buy Cocktail Sauces from a store, but you cannot be 100% sure about the quality standards unless you are making it on your own, using the right ingredients at your home. 

Here is how you can make your traditional seafood sauce in under five minutes.


  • Tomato Ketchup: 3 tbsp
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: 3 tsp
  • Worcestershire Sauce: 1½ tsp
  • Horseradish: According to taste
  • Minced garlic: According to taste
  • Hot sauce: optional


  • Take a small bowl and add three tablespoons of tomato ketchup to it.
  • To it, add three teaspoons of lemon juice.
  • Mix them well.
  • To the mixture, add one and a half teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce.
  • You can then add the minced garlic based on how spicy and flavoury you want your sauce to be.
  • Now, add horseradish to the above mixture, based on your taste. 
  • You can add a dash or two of hot sauce if you prefer an extra spicy Cocktail Sauce.
  • Transfer the cooked mixture to a jar or bowl based on your need, and enjoy! 

Cocktail Sauce with Mayonnaise: Homemade Recipe

Some prefer to have mayonnaise as one of the ingredients in Cocktail Sauces, especially in countries like France, Belgium, etc. Preparing this is also as easy as the traditional method, and the recipe for the same is below:


  • Mayonnaise: 4 tbsp
  • Tomato Ketchup: 2 ½ tbsp
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: 3 tsp
  • Worcestershire Sauce: 1 ½ tsp
  • Tabasco Sauce: 1 tsp
  • Horseradish: According to taste
  • Minced garlic: According to taste
  • Hot sauce: optional


  • Take a small bowl and add four tablespoons of mayonnaise to the bowl.
  • Add 2 ½ tablespoons of tomato ketchup to the bowl and mix them well.
  • To it, add three teaspoons of lemon juice.
  • Add one and a half teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce to the mixture and one and a half teaspoons of Tobasco Sauce. 
  • You can then add the minced garlic based on how spicy and flavoury you want your sauce to be.
  • Add horseradish to the above mixture based on your taste. 
  • You can add a dash or two of hot sauce if you prefer an extra spicy Cocktail sauce.
  • Transfer the cooked mixture to a jar or bowl based on your need. 

Storage and Food Safety of Cocktail Sauce

You can refrigerate and use store-bought cocktail sauce for 18 months after its manufacturing date. If refrigerated and stored well, you can use an open can of Cocktail Sauce for 6 to 9 months. However, you must be careful while using the cocktail sauce to make sure it has a longer shelf life. 

For example, while using your cocktail sauce, pour it into a bowl or similar serving dish with the amount you think you require and immediately refrigerate the rest. Avoid dipping shellfish or any other appetiser you wish to have with cocktail sauce directly into the stored jar. It will ruin the sauce as it will get contaminated. 


The thick dark red coloured Cocktail Sauce is a cold and room temperature condiment that has become rather popular in restaurants, buffets, etc. while serving shellfish appetisers. But, like any food item, Cocktail Sauce also has its advantages and disadvantages. Consuming this seafood sauce in moderation is good for your body, but having more than the recommended amount of the sauce may not be suitable for you, especially for those with blood pressure or diabetes. But, Cocktail Sauce can regulate the fat content in your body and provide you with good amount of carbohydrates. So, like any food item, you must have a clear idea of the portion size that is good for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is a cocktail sauce made up of?

A. Traditionally, the cocktail sauce is made up of Tomato concentration or ketchup and other ingredients like a dash of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce, a squirt of lemon, and horseradish. In some places, one adds mayonnaise as an ingredient too. 

Q. What can I use instead of cocktail sauce?

A. There are several substitutes that you can use instead of Cocktail sauce. Some of them are French Dressing, Thousand Island Dressing, Fry Sauce, Remoulade, and Salsa. 

Q. Is cocktail sauce different from chilli sauce?

A. Chilli sauce and cocktail sauce are pretty different from each other. The former will have some chilli ingredients like chilli powder, green chillies, capsicum, green pepper, etc., to provide the kind of spiciness that the name suggests. Cocktail sauces, however, have a very different recipe from the above type of sauce with its unique ingredients like lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce, etc. 

Q. What is in Heinz Cocktail Sauce?

A. Heinz Cocktail Sauce is a special kind of Cocktail Sauce with a unique and different taste from the traditional one available in the stores. The ingredients of Heinz Cocktail Sauce include tomato concentrate or ketchup, corn syrup with high fructose, distilled white vinegar, horseradish, salt, soybean oil, natural flavourings, dehydrated onions, spices, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Q. What can I use for shrimp instead of cocktail sauce?

A. Instead of Cocktail Sauce, you can have shrimp with different sauces like Harissa, Pesto, Mango Salad, Oregano and Lemon, Miso Butter, Shrimp Butter, etc. 

Q. What sauce goes with shrimp?

A. Cocktail Sauce has to be one of the best options to have with shrimps, and it is also the sauce that is served with the appetiser in most buffets, restaurants, dinner parties, etc. But other sauces like Harissa, Pesto, Mango Salad, Oregano and lemon, Miso butter, shrimp butter, etc., are also good sauces that will blend well with shrimp and other kinds of seafood. 

Q. What do you use the cocktail sauce for?

A. Cocktail sauces are among the most famous sauces. You can use it as cold and room temperature condiments for various food items and appetisers. Some of the things served with cocktail sauce include oysters, prawns, shrimps, ham and cheese omelettes, deviled eggs, Mozzarella sticks, etc. 

Q. What is Heinz seafood sauce?

A. Heinz seafood sauce is a kind of cocktail sauce readily available in general stores, and people popularly consume it with shellfish and other seafood plates. It has a thick consistency and zesty flavour, of the unique blend of different ingredients, with a tomato base.

Q. Why is it called shrimp cocktail?

A. At the commencement stages of the making cocktail sauce, it was served at dinner parties along with shrimps. Some people believe that this is how cocktail sauce or seafood sauce got shrimp cocktail also as its name. 

Q. What goes well with cocktail shrimp?

A. Among the many food items, the best items that you can have with a shrimp cocktail include Potato Salad, Green Beans Salad, Grilled Mushrooms, Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan, Watermelon and Feta Salad, etc.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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