In this southwestern shrimp cocktail, spice-crusted shrimp are seared on the grill, then mixed with creamy avocado and fresh corn kernels. Great for a light and satisfying summertime appetizer.
This Southwestern shrimp cocktail just might be my new favorite appetizer, only rivaled by my Bloody Mary Shrimp Shooters!
Shrimp done well is simply magical. And when I saw “done well”, I mean seared until it is slightly blackened on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside.
The easiest way to achieve this is with a hot grill and short cooking time. Infuse extra flavor into the shrimp by first rubbing them with mixture of spices. Ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt, made into a paste with a drizzle of olive oil.
Shrimp and avocado play very nicely together (like in my Shrimp Avocado Egg Rolls and Shrimp Salad Cups), so it seemed like an obvious choice to pair the spiced shrimp with creamy, cool avocado. Fresh corn kernels add a touch of sweetness and a squeeze of lime juice rounds out the flavors.
You can serve the shrimp cocktail in appetizer-sized bowls, or pile them into martini glasses for that “wow” presentation!
What you need for this Southwestern Shrimp Cocktail:
These are the main components of this recipe (affiliate links included):
- Shrimp: I used large shrimp, often labeled as 31-35 (meaning you get 31-35 per pound). Peel and remove the tails.
- Avocado: I used half of a large Hass avocado. If only smaller avocados are available, use ¾ to a full avocado (depending on size) so there are enough avocado chunks for 4 shrimp cocktails.
- Corn: Cut the kernels off of a medium to large cob of cooked corn. I often boil the corn, but grilled corn adds even more flavor.
- Spice mixture: Ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt, mixed with olive oil.
- Lime: Fresh lime juice ties everything together.
- Skewers: If using wooden skewers, first soak them in warm water for 20 to 30 minutes so that they don’t catch on fire on the grill.
Tips for making this shrimp cocktail recipe:
Tip #1: If you only remember one thing from this post, let this be it…DON’T OVERCOOK THE SHRIMP! Not to be bossy or anything, but overcooked, rubbery shrimp is a major pet peeve of mine. It rivals my annoyance when certain teenagers in the house (ahem) don’t changed out the toilet paper roll. Serious stuff.
On a hot grill, large shrimp take just 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side to reach that “slightly charred on the outside, juicy on the inside” perfection.
Tip #2: I like to use two skewers per kabob so the shrimp don’t spin around and around when trying to turn them. As mentioned above, be sure to soak wooden skewers before using so they don’t burn on the grill.
Tip #3: Chop the avocado right before adding to the other ingredients so that it doesn’t have a chance to turn brown. The lime juice will help slow down the oxidation, but cutting into the creamy fruit late in the game keeps things looking as fresh as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can this be made ahead of time:
Yes and no. The shrimp are best when served warm, straight from the grill. And the avocado should be chopped shortly before serving.
What can be done ahead of time:
- Cook the corn (grill or boil), let it cool, then cut the kernels off of the cob.
- Prepare the spice mixture.
- Peel the shrimp.
Can I use pre-cooked shrimp for this recipe?
Nope. The grilled flavor is essential to this shrimp cocktail. And you definitely don’t want to be grilling shrimp that has already been cooked!
Southwestern Shrimp Cocktail
- If using wooden skewers, soak 4 of them in warm water for 20 to 30 minutes before using.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and brush lightly with oil.
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and olive oil. Add the shrimp and stir to coat.
- Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, using 2 skewers for each set of shrimp so that they are easier to turn on the grill.
- Place the shrimp on the grill and sear until the shrimp are just cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, remove them from the skewers and place them in a medium-sized bowl.
- To the shrimp, add the avocado, corn and lime juice. Stir to combine.
- Divide the shrimp between 4 small bowls or martini glasses. Serve.
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.