Spicy Sweet Chilli Sauce

There’s something about cottage life that happens in slow motion when you open the fridge and discover you actually don’t have that traditional cocktail shrimp sauce everyone expects.
And because it’s the end of the season, there’s no way you’re getting to a store for one small jar of sauce when it involves a boat ride, a hike up the hill, a car drive and then the return trip – nothing short of 45 minutes.

Here’s a great trick . . . with these three basic ingredients, you will have the BEST tasting dipping sauce anywhere. This dipping sauce is easy to make, easy to adjust and not too thick or thin so it stays on your shrimps or vegetables without being too much of a good thing.

Shrimp dipped into spicy cocktail sauce

All you need is red pepper jelly for the heat . . .  

Red pepper jelly on a teaspoon
Red pepper jelly

Pomegranate molasses for the tart sweetness

red pepper jelly with pomegranate molasses

Lime zest for some zing

Lime zest, sweet chilli pepper and pomegranate molasses in a bowl with the lake behind

Squeezed lime juice to thin the sauce, brighten the flavour and reduce the sweetness.

Close up of lime with remaining ingredients in the background

Add a pinch of sea salt (optional) to soften and add depth to the sweetness

Birds eye view of ingredients before lime juice is added

Mix everything together, taste and adjust until you have the right amount of fire, sweetness, zing. 

Cover and refrigerate, allowing the flavours to blend.

Next up are the shrimp!
And if you’re vegetarian, prepare and steam your vegetables.

Close up of shrimp already cooked and peeled

In a large pot, cook the fresh shrimp in boiling water until the flesh has changed from translucent to white and the shrimp curls slightly.
Drain in a colander* and cool under gentle, running water before peeling.
Check and remove any attached veins.
* See note below if you plan on making shrimp stock – which I recommend!

Arrange cold shrimp on a platter and serve with this sensational, one of a kind, sweet and sour sauce that will take your taste buds on a refreshing ride.

Your shrimp will never taste the same again.

Cooked shrimp and sauce side-by-side
Shrimp about to be dipped into the sauce, with a reflection on top
Love this reflection of shrimp on the sauce!
Shrimp soaked in sauce
Look at all that lime zest caught on the shrimp meat!
Shrimp lifted out, dripping with sauce
Perfect amount of runny! Not too much that it takes over the delicate shrimp flavours, yet enough to enhance

What I Loved Most About This Recipe

There is so much that’s great about this recipe.
My all-time 5 favourite reasons are:
~ it’s super easy to make in a hurry.
~ the recipe is flexible, and if you have young kids swap out the red chilli pepper jelly for orange marmalade or blueberry jam – delicious!
~ because the dipping sauce is thinner, the flavours don’t smother the shrimp and you don’t just taste sauce! 
~ this dipping sauce is also amazing with vegetables, steamed or raw.
~ yes, it’s even wonderful gently poured over steamed fish.

And don’t tell anyone, but I even dipped apple and banana slices in there too!

Shrimp dipped into spicy cocktail sauce

Sweet-Spicy-Tangy Dipping Sauce

Looking for something different to serve with your cooked shrimp?
With three simple ingredients, you'll have this sauce whipped up in no time and the combination of simple flavours covers everything your taste buds crave: a sweet, spicy, tangy dipping sauce that doesn't take over the succulent taste of shrimp.
And, if you're not a shrimp-lover, this sauce has more than enough WOW served with a bowl of your favourite steamed or raw vegetables!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Appetizer, Snacks
Cuisine Seafood, Vegetarian
Servings 6 people
Calories 66 kcal


  • Small mixing bowl
  • Zester or grater
  • Measuring spoons
  • Chopping board
  • Spoon or fork for mixing
  • Serving bowl
  • Medium-sized pot
  • Colander


  • 2 tbsp Red pepper jelly
  • 2 tbsp Pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 Lime or more according to taste
  • pinch Sea salt optional


  • Lime zest optional
  • Chilli flakes optional

For Dipping

  • 30 Shrimp allow 4-6 per person, depending on size
  • Vegetables steamed or raw


  • Add red pepper jelly and pomegranate molasses to a small mixing bowl.
  • Zest half of a washed and dried lime and add to the mixing bowl. Blend until well mixed with either a spoon or fork.
  • Add the juice of half a lime and salt. Stir well and taste. Adjust flavours by adding extra lime zest, pomegranate molasses or red pepper jelly.
  • Cover and leave in the fridge until ready to serve.

Cooked Shrimp

  • Add raw shrimp to a pot of boiling water.
  • Cook on MEDIUM-HIGH for 5 minutes, or until the flesh is no longer translucent and the shrimp have curled.
  • Drain using a colander and reserve liquid for a stock. Cool the shrimp under cold gentle running water before peeling. Reserve shells for stock.
  • Cover shrimp and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Serve

  • Garnish the bowl of sweet-spicy-tangy dipping sauce with extra lime zest or chilli flakes.
  • Arrange cooked shrimp or mixed raw or steamed vegetables around the bowl.
  • Dip and enjoy!


Adding extra lime juice makes the dipping sauce too thin, so adjust flavours using the zest.
If you don't have red pepper jelly in your fridge, replace it with 2 tsp orange marmalade and 1/8 tsp chipotle chilli pepper or cayenne pepper.  It's delicious!
Keyword Dipping, easy, Sauce, Shrimp

Bonus: How to Make Your Own Stock From Shrimp Shells

~ Reserve the drained shrimp water and return it back to the pot.

~Add the shrimp shells, a carrot roughly chopped, an onion peeled and sliced,  1-2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger and a bay leaf or fresh parsley.
Add sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper if you like. And if you like a spicy stock, add a teaspoon of chilli flakes. 
~ You should have approximately 4 cups of liquid. Add extra water if necessary.

~ With the lid on, simmer stock on MEDIUM-LOW for 30 – 45 minutes to extract the flavours.
~ Cool the stock liquid enough to not get burned before draining through a colander.
~ Replace stock back into the pot and cook a further 20 minutes on MEDIUM-LOW to reduce the liquid. Aim to reduce the liquid by half.
This intensifies the flavour and is easier to store in your freezer. 
~ Pour the stock through a sieve to remove particles and leave to cool in a bowl.
~ Once cool, pour your stock into labelled, dated, freezer-proof containers.

I find 2 cups of concentrated stock per container is enough flavour and moisture for most recipes.

Need to Grab These Ingredients?

A quick reminder: don’t forget to look for the BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices) certification when shopping for your shrimp.

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