Australian/ Christmas/ Entrees / Appetisers/ Recipes/ Salad/ Side Dish/ Valentine's Day

Prawn Cocktail Salad

30/11/2023

Bring festive flavour and bright colour to your table with this gorgeous prawn cocktail salad. A modern take on a popular Aussie entree, this salad is quick, easy and ready to celebrate!

A festive prawn cocktail salad on a white platter with a black background.

Why We Love This

All the flavour and fun of a festive prawn cocktail with no need for fancy glasses or fussy presentation.

Prawn cocktail salad is so easy to make and perfect for BBQs and family gatherings – especially at Christmas time! 
It’s quick to prepare, looks stunning and is easy for guests to serve themselves. 

Related: Seafood Sauce / Japanese Wafu Salad Dressing

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Two glossy prawns drenched in seafood sauce on a platter.

What is Prawn Cocktail?

Cooked prawns are a popular treat for celebrations and parties in Australia. Laura’s dad adored them on Christmas Day with a slathering of seafood cocktail sauce or a squeeze of lemon, alongside a batch of mum’s oysters kilpatrick – a beloved family tradition! 

Sometimes you’ll find prawns served up in fancy martini glasses as a retro individual prawn cocktails. But instead, we love making a big batch prawn cocktail salad, served up on a platter and ready to feed the whole crowd. 

The colours in this salad are bright and gorgeous, just like Christmas on a plate! It’s light and refreshing, perfect for Aussie summers and great as an entree before (or alongside) the main event. 
We guarantee you’ll have plenty of room leftover for a plate of your favourite roast chicken, potato bake or an extra scoop of cauliflower cheese. Yum!

What You’ll Need

  • Prawns / Shrimp – Most commonly called prawns in Australia, or shrimp in the US and some other countries. For convenience we usually buy pre-cooked prawns from the supermarket, but you can buy fresh prawns and cook them yourself if you prefer. Here in Aus we absolutely love local SA king prawns, but tiger prawns work just as well. Go with your favourite! 
  • Seafood Sauce – We love homemade seafood sauce since you can tweak the flavour just how you like it. Sub with thousand island dressing or ranch sauce if you need.
  • Lettuce – Iceberg is the most commonly used in retro prawn cocktail cups, but for this salad we usually prefer the smaller, wavy leaves of cos or hydro lettuce.
  • Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes look super cute, otherwise use any fresh tomato you like, halved or chopped into chunky bite size pieces.
  • Avocado – The creamy flavour pairs perfectly with this salad!
  • Red Onion – Sliced or chopped, it weaves all the flavours together without taking over.
  • Optional Garnish – Chives or thinly sliced spring onion / green onion.
Ingredients laid out ready to make prawn cocktail salad.

How to Make Prawn Cocktail Salad

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

  1. Peel and devein your prawns, then place them into a medium bowl.
  2. Pour over your seafood sauce and mix until well coated.
  3. Arrange your lettuce leaves on a large serving platter, then top with your cherry tomato, avocado and red onion slices.
  4. Top with saucy prawns and optional: garnish with herbs such as fresh chives or dill.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Keep Fresh – If you’re planning to serve this salad outside (especially in summer), it can be a good idea to use stainless steel platters or bowls layered on a bed of ice. This will help keep the lettuce leaves crisp and fresh. 
  • Storage – Leftover prawn cocktail salad will last around 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. This salad is not suitable for freezing.

FAQs

What’s the best way to defrost frozen prawns?

The safest way is to defrost them in the refrigerator, though you’ll need to plan ahead as this will take around 8 hours for them to fully defrost. 

If you’ve left it to the last minute and need to defrost them quickly, you can pop them into a colander and run them under cold water for a few minutes, moving frequently so they defrost evenly. Laura’s Dad didn’t recommend this method though because it will wash away most of the natural flavour from the prawns.  

Another method you can try is to soak them in a bowl of cold salted water (around 2 tbsp of salt to 4 cups / 1 L / 2 pts water) for around 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally so they defrost evenly.

Do I have to devein the prawns?

We do recommend you devein them. If you don’t, it can affect the flavour and texture of the prawns, making them taste a little muddy and/or gritty.

Can I make this salad in advance?

No, we don’t recommend it. This salad is best served freshly assembled, while the lettuce leaves are crisp and the seafood sauce is nice and thick.

Variations

  • Individual Serves – Go for the traditional prawn cocktail presentation in individual glasses, portioned out into lettuce cups, or tucked into fresh mini slider buns.
  • Garnishes – Use fresh herbs like chives, dill, parsley, mint or chervil to tweak the flavour.
  • Sauce – Mix things up completely with a totally different sauce, such as spicy mango sauce or Thai chilli lime sauce. They go perfectly with prawns!
  • Love Citrus? – Serve with fresh lemon or lime wedges.
A colourful array of prawns, avocado, tomato, onion and lettuce on a platter.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Prawns sitting on avocado, tomato and onion for a prawn cocktail salad.

Prawn Cocktail Salad

Bring festive flavour and bright colour to your table with this gorgeous prawn cocktail salad. A modern take on a popular Aussie entree, this salad is quick, easy and ready to celebrate!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Appetiser, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Australian, English
Servings: 6 side serves
Calories: 192kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Peel and devein your 15 cooked prawns / shrimp, then place them into a medium bowl. Pour over your ⅓ cup seafood sauce and mix until well coated.
  • Arrange your 10 lettuce leaves on a large serving platter, then top with your 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 avocado and ¼ red onion slices.
  • Top with saucy prawns and optional: garnish with herbs such as fresh chives or dill.

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Keep Fresh – If you’re planning to serve this salad outside (especially in summer), it can be a good idea to use stainless steel platters or bowls layered on a bed of ice. This will help keep the lettuce leaves crisp and fresh. 
  • Storage – Leftover prawn cocktail salad will last around 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. This salad is not suitable for freezing.
  • Individual Serves – Go for the traditional prawn cocktail presentation in individual glasses, portioned out into lettuce cups, or tucked into fresh mini slider buns.
  • Garnishes – Use fresh herbs like chives, dill, parsley, mint or chervil to tweak the flavour.
  • Sauce – Mix things up completely with a totally different sauce, such as spicy mango sauce or Thai chilli lime sauce. They go perfectly with prawns!
  • Love Citrus? – Serve with fresh lemon or lime wedges.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Prawn Cocktail Salad
Amount per Serving
Calories
192
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Trans Fat
 
0.01
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Cholesterol
 
177
mg
59
%
Sodium
 
892
mg
39
%
Potassium
 
468
mg
13
%
Carbohydrates
 
8
g
3
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
21
g
42
%
Vitamin A
 
3405
IU
68
%
Vitamin C
 
17
mg
21
%
Calcium
 
101
mg
10
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks

Prawn Cocktail Salad

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