Grocery Guides

Cocktail Sauce- All You Need to Know | Instacart Guide to Fresh Produce



Last Updated: Nov 12, 2021

What is cocktail sauce?

If you’ve ever had a seafood cocktail, then you have probably tasted cocktail sauce. This sweet and tangy cold (or room temperature) sauce is often served with a shrimp cocktail. It also makes a great condiment and enhances any seafood dish, such as grilled salmon or oysters. In fact, it was initially served with oysters and is still an integral part of most oyster bars across the U.S.

Cocktail sauce is quite simple and is comprised of ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and a hot sauce like Tabasco to give it that spicy kick.

Where did cocktail sauce originate from?

Cocktail sauce seems to have originated from the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many references have been cited in several American cookbooks of a spicy tomato-based sauce (usually ketchup spiced with horseradish, tabasco, and cayenne) served in tiny cups as appetizers with shellfish, usually oysters.

Its popularity expanded from oysters to shrimp, and eventually, in the 1920s, cocktail appetizers (shrimp cocktail) were served in cocktail glasses at home dinner parties.

Over the years, several recipe variations have evolved in different countries, such as the classic British version called Marie Rose sauce, which uses ketchup and mayonnaise, or the version from Belgium, which has a dash of whiskey.

What is the nutritional value of cocktail sauce?

The nutritional profile of cocktail sauce differs from brand to brand, depending on the added vitamins and minerals.

According to the USDA, generic cocktail sauce is mostly water and has no fat. It is high in carbohydrates, with approximately 7g of sugars in 60g of cocktail sauce.

Other nutrients include calcium, iron, zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and magnesium.

How is cocktail sauce made?

Commercial cocktail sauce is made from fresh tomatoes that are chopped and evaporated to get the consistency of a thick sauce. Horseradish, spices, sweeteners, and other ingredients are added to achieve more flavor.

It is usually hot-filled at a high temperature and vacuum-sealed to ensure that pathogens and bacteria don’t sneak into the sauce. However, some producers use the cold-fill method when the sauce is filled and sealed at room temperature. In this case, preservatives are used to prevent spoilage.

You can also make a quick cocktail sauce at home in just five minutes. You can also make a quick cocktail sauce at home in just five minutes. All you need is a few easily available ingredients.

What is the shelf life of cocktail sauce?

If you’re making cocktail sauce at home, it’s best to make it one day before serving. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Store-bought cocktail sauce will last longer, as it contains preservatives and lemon and vinegar that have inherent preserving properties.

Typically, the shelf life of an unopened store-bought cocktail sauce is about a year. But it’s essential to check the “best by” date just to be sure.

How do you pick cocktail sauce at the grocery store?

When it comes to cocktail sauce, there are many brands and varieties available in the grocery store. What you choose really depends on what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a gluten-free cocktail sauce or one with less salt? Do you want to try something spicier or zestier than the traditional sauce?

Other varieties include sauces with enhanced flavors, such as chipotle-style cocktail sauce or one with added dill and lemon. Some recipes may also include mayonnaise and fresh tomatoes. 

Whatever brand or variety to buy, make sure you check the use-by date on the container. Ensure that the containers are sealed. 

If you are looking to have your groceries delivered, you can easily shop for cocktail sauce via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products. Shop for cocktail sauce.

How to store cocktail sauce

You can keep unopened cocktail sauce in a cool and dark pantry.

Once opened, remember not to leave cocktail sauce outside, as sunlight and humidity will affect the ingredients and flavor. It’s safest to store opened cocktail sauce (or homemade sauce) in the fridge to keep it from spoiling.

Pour the sauce in an airtight container or a glass container and wrap with cling film or plastic wrap before putting it in the fridge. This will help prevent mold formation. The sauce will usually last for a week this way.

For more extended storage of a maximum of 6 months, freeze the cocktail sauce. You can either store the sauce in airtight freezer-friendly bags or use suitable containers. Pour out the sauce in serving-size portions, so you don’t have to thaw the whole container and only use what you need.

How to tell if cocktail sauce is bad

Spoiled cocktail sauce will smell bad. Take a whiff of the sauce to check if it is alright to consume. If it smells different or has an unpleasant odor, then it is time to ditch the sauce.

Another sure sign of spoilage is the appearance of mold on the sauce. You can’t miss it.

What can I substitute for cocktail sauce?

For something new, you can substitute with the following condiments and sauces:

Or you can always make a quick cocktail sauce at home.

Start cooking with cocktail sauce

Pick your favorite cocktail sauce from the grocery store and use it to make a variety of dishes. Besides traditional shrimp cocktails, you can enhance any seafood dish with it, whether you’re eating oysters, grilled fish, or crab cakes. Use your creativity and add it to ham-and-cheese omelets, use it as a dip for onion rings or deep-fried mushrooms, or mix it into a meatloaf. Buy cocktail sauce and all the other food you want to pair it with through Instacart.



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