Easy Shrimp Pasta Salad
This creamy shrimp pasta salad is the perfect addition to your summer BBQ spread! Made with tender elbow macaroni and plump, juicy shrimp, it’s tossed in a flavorful dressing of mayonnaise, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning. It’s easy to make and even easier to enjoy, making it a great side dish for any outdoor gathering or picnic.
Summer is the perfect time to try out light and refreshing recipes, and what’s more refreshing than a salad? If you’re looking for something quick and easy to make, look no further than shrimp pasta salad.
With a few simple ingredients and some fresh herbs, you can create a delicious shrimp macaroni salad that’s perfect for any occasion. Serve it at a summer BBQ, take it to a potluck, or have it for dinner any night of the week.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and flavors to make it your own. Give this recipe a try and enjoy a taste of summer!
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Ingredients You’ll Need
- Elbow Macaroni – We love macaroni salad so in our opinion elbow macaroni is the way to go! Buy some extra and make our classic macaroni salad and chicken macaroni salad too.
- Cooked shrimp – Buy fresh cooked shrimp or frozen cooked shrimp OR buy fresh or frozen uncooked shrimp and cook it before adding it to the salad. We suggest medium size (51/60) shrimp for this salad so you get a hearty bite of shrimp. If you use large shrimp you can chop it into bite sized pieces. You can also use smaller shrimp.
- Mayonnaise – This is the base of of the creamy dressing that we toss the salad in.
- Lemon juice – Lemon juice adds a bright burst of flavor to the dish. You can substitute with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar if needed. This will change the flavor slightly.
- Old Bay seasoning – Old Bay seasoning is a flavorful blend of herbs and spices that is commonly used in American cuisine, particularly to season seafood. Its unique flavor profile adds a delicious depth of flavor to any dish.
- Sugar – Just a little bit of sugar balances out the acidity from the lemon juice.
- Vegetables – Diced green onion, red bell pepper, celery, red onion adds a little crunch.
Want to cut skip the carbs? Try our shrimp salad with NO pasta. Perfect for sandwiches and leafy green salads.
Step 1 – Boil pasta. Cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Make sure to salt your water for added flavor.
Once the pasta is al dente, drain the water and rinse pasta under cold water. Let the pasta drain thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.
Step 2 – Prepare shrimp. Pat your cooked shrimp dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle with one teaspoon of the Old Bay seasoning and toss so that all of the shrimp is lightly coated.
Step 3 – Make the dressing. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, remaining Old Bay seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk together.
Step 4 – Combine ingredients. In a large bowl combine the cooked macaroni, cooked and seasoned shrimp, green onion, red bell pepper, celery, and red onion.
Step 5 – Add the dressing. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over everything and gently toss together until well-coated.
Step 6 – Chill. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let it chill.
Note: This can taste overly seasoned/salty when it is first mixed together. Let it chill for 1 hour, the pasta and shrimp absorb the flavor of that dressing and everything evens out. Trust me!
While the classic shrimp macaroni salad is always delicious, there are many variations of this dish that you can try to mix things up and add some variety to your meals. Here are a few other variations that you might want to try:
- Lemon and Herb Shrimp Pasta Salad – This variation uses a simple dressing made with lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs like parsley and basil. Toss the cooked shrimp and pasta with the dressing and add some chopped vegetables like cherry tomatoes and cucumbers for a refreshing and flavorful salad.
- Southwest Shrimp Pasta Salad – For a spicy twist on the classic shrimp pasta salad, try adding some southwestern flavors like corn, black beans, avocado, and jalapeños. Toss everything together with a spicy ranch dressing and top with some crushed tortilla chips for a crunchy texture.
- Greek Shrimp Pasta Salad – This variation uses traditional Greek ingredients like feta cheese, kalamata olives, and cucumbers, along with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. Add some cherry tomatoes and chopped red onion for a burst of color and flavor.
- Creamy Shrimp Pasta Salad – If you prefer a creamier pasta salad, try mixing some mayonnaise, sour cream, and Greek yogurt with some lemon juice and herbs for a tangy and creamy dressing. Toss with cooked shrimp and pasta, along with some diced celery and red onion for a crunch.
These are just a few variations that you can try. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and flavors to find your perfect recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any small pasta shape will work well for shrimp pasta salad, such as bowtie, fusilli, or rotini. Just be sure to cook it al dente so it doesn’t become too soft in the salad.
Yes, you can use frozen shrimp, just be sure to thaw it completely before cooking or using it in the salad.
While canned shrimp can be used, fresh or frozen shrimp will provide the best flavor and texture for the salad.
Yes, you can substitute the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt for a healthier version. Just be aware that it will slightly alter the taste and texture of the dressing.
What to serve with shrimp pasta salad
This is a versatile dish that can be served as a light lunch, a side dish, or a main course. Here are some ideas for what to serve with shrimp pasta salad:
- Garlic bread – Shrimp pasta salad pairs well with warm and crusty garlic bread. You can either make your own garlic bread by toasting slices of bread with garlic butter or buy pre-made garlic bread from the store.
- Grilled vegetables – Grilled vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus are a perfect complement to this dish. Simply brush the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill until they are tender and slightly charred.
- Mixed green salad – A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing is a great way to balance out the richness of the pasta and shrimp. Try using mixed greens like arugula, spinach, and kale, and add some sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and red onion.
- Grilled chicken – If you’re serving shrimp macaroni salad as a main course, consider adding some grilled chicken to the mix. Season the chicken with your favorite spices and grill until it’s cooked through. Slice the chicken into strips and toss it with the pasta and shrimp.
- Lemonade or iced tea – It is a refreshing dish, and it pairs well with a cool and refreshing drink like lemonade or iced tea. Serve it with a tall glass of your favorite beverage for the perfect summer meal.
How to Store It
Storing shrimp properly is important to keep it fresh and safe to eat. Here are some tips on how to store this delicious pasta salad:
- Store in an airtight container: Once you’ve made your pasta salad place it in an airtight container and lock the lid in place.
- Refrigerate promptly: After making it refrigerate it promptly to prevent bacteria from growing. Store it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge as soon as possible, ideally within two hours of making it.
- Keep it cold: Shrimp pasta salad should be kept at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below to prevent bacterial growth. Make sure your fridge is set to the appropriate temperature, and don’t leave the pasta salad out at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Store in the fridge for up to three days: This pasta salad can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. After that, it’s best to discard any leftovers to ensure food safety.
Looking for More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes?
- Italian Pasta Salad with Italian Dressing
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Steak Fajita Pasta Salad
- Vegan Pasta Salad
- Mexican Pasta Salad with Creamy Chipotle Lime Dressing
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
- Greek Spaghetti Salad
- More Pasta Salad Recipes…
Shrimp Pasta Salad
- 1 pound Elbow Macaroni
- 32 ounces Cooked shrimp, medium size (51/60)
- 1 cup Mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 Green onion
- 1 cup Red bell pepper
- 1 cup Celery
- 1/4 cup Diced red onion
- Cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Make sure to salt your water for added flavor.
- Once the pasta is al dente, drain the water and rinse pasta under cold water. Let the pasta drain thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.
- Pat your cooked shrimp dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle with one teaspoon of the Old Bay seasoning and toss so that all of the shrimp is lightly coated.
- In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, remaining Old Bay seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together.
- Add the cooked macaroni, cooked shrimp, green onion, red bell pepper, celery, and red onion to a large bowl.
- Pour the mayonnaise mixture over everything and gently toss together until well-coated.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let it chill.
- Once it has chilled you can serve immediately or store until ready to eat.