Shrimp Pasta Salad is a quick and easy macaroni salad recipe that is the perfect addition to your next cookout!
You have to try making pasta salad with shrimp! This recipe is similar to the familiar tuna pasta salad, but with tiny shrimp and sweet bell peppers added in to make it delightfully different.
Shrimp Macaroni Salad is a summer staple around here, and I probably make at least one type of pasta salad every week in the warmer months to serve with grilled dinners or take to friends’ houses.
I think you’ll be glad to have this tasty summer salad recipe in your recipe box too! Be sure to check out my other easy pasta salads, like Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, Tortellini Salad, and Caesar Pasta Salad.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy Recipe– Just cook the macaroni, chop up some veggies, and mix up a simple, creamy dressing. Shrimp Pasta Salad is ready in no time!
- Make Ahead Side – Make the salad early in the day and keep it in the fridge until dinner time. This will make cooking the main dishes way less stressful.
- Versatile Recipe – Pasta salads like this one are very forgiving, so feel free to add in any other ingredients, seasonings, or extras that you enjoy!
Ingredients In Shrimp Pasta Salad
Here’s what you need to make this simple and delicious macaroni salad with shrimp:
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Salad Shrimp: Small shrimp, usually called “salad shrimp” are the perfect size for this pasta salad. They are bite-sized and just a bit larger than elbow macaroni noodles. I like to buy the pre-cooked frozen variety, but canned salad shrimp can also be used.
- Elbow Macaroni: What’s a macaroni salad without some elbow noodles, right? You can use any type of short pasta to make this salad, but I think elbows are classic.
- Veggies: Diced red onion, celery, and bell pepper add crunch, color, and flavor to the salad. I used some red and some yellow bell pepper, and you can use any color that you like.
- Mayo and Sour Cream: The base of this shrimp pasta salad dressing is mayonnaise, mixed half and half with sour cream. You can use plain greek yogurt in place of the sour cream if you like, just be sure that both creamy mixers are full-fat. The low-fat varieties of mayo and sour cream won’t give you the same flavor and creaminess.
- Dijon Mustard: A single tablespoon of Dijon goes a long way to making this dressing perfect.
- Lemon Juice: This thins the creamy dressing out just enough, and brightens up all of the flavors.
- Dill: Fresh dill is so good with all types of fish and seafood. I use it in many of my pasta salads. Fresh dill should be easy to find at the grocery store. Dried dill can be used, but you’ll want to reduce the amount to 2 teaspoons rather than 2 tablespoons.
- Salt and Pepper: To be sure that our Shrimp Pasta Salad is ready to eat.
How To Make Shrimp Pasta Salad
- Cook the Pasta: Follow the instructions on the package to cook the elbow macaroni. Be sure not to overcook the pasta. When finished, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Make the dressing: While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper in a small bowl or mixing cup, and set aside.
- Mix everything together: Fill a large bowl with cooked pasta, shrimp, diced celery, onion, and bell peppers. Pour the dressing over and stir to combine.
- Serve: This salad is ready to eat as soon as you stir it, but I like it better after it’s had a chance to sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Be careful not to overcook the macaroni when making this salad. You should cook the pasta to exactly the doneness that you like. Use a timer to ensure that you don’t forget about it.
- Thaw Shrimp First – If you add the salad shrimp still frozen, they’re likely to be frozen when you’re ready to eat. Rinse them under cool water until they are thawed.
Shrimp Pasta Salad will last in the fridge for about 3 days. Store any leftovers in an airtight container.
Pasta Salad is not a dish that I would recommend freezing. It won’t be the same after that – likely mushy with a separated dressing that is oily.
These little shrimp are meant for recipes like this one! They are listed as 150-200 count per pound. Compared to Jumbo shrimp, which are usually about 23 per pound, salad shrimp are much smaller than the shrimp you’d use for grilling or frying.
If you have larger shrimp already on hand, you can use these to make shrimp pasta salad instead of going out to get a bag of the small ones. Cook the shrimp if they’re raw, and cut them into bite-sized pieces to add to the salad.
Yes, this is an easy recipe that you can double, triple, or scale as large as you like to feed any sized crowd!
You can add in any cooked seafood that you want to this creamy macaroni salad with dill and lemon. Chopped imitation crab, or fresh lump crab or lobster would be a fancy and tasty inclusion!
Shrimp Pasta Salad is the perfect summer get-together side dish! Save this recipe for the next time you need to whip up a side dish quickly.Pin it for more people to enjoy too!
- 3 cups (12 oz./340g) elbow macaroni pasta or any small shape pasta
- 1 pound frozen pre-cooked salad shrimp thawed and drained, see note 1
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 bell pepper diced
- ½ small red onion finely diced
For the Dressing:
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise full-fat
- ⅓ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cook macaroni in salted water according to the package instructions. Most small pastas will be ready in 10-12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- As the pasta is being cooked, make the dressing: In a bowl, combine mayo with sour cream, dijon mustard, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta with small salad shirmp, celery, bell pepper, and red onion Dress the salad and give everything a stir until well combined. Garnish with additional fresh dill if desired.
- Cover and chill until you’re ready to serve.
- Use 150-200 count per pound shrimp for this recipe. You can also use canned salad shrimp that you’ve drained and rinsed. If you want to use larger shrimp, cut them into bite-sized pieces first.
- I like the spicy bite of red onion in this recipe. You can use sweet onion or green onion instead if you prefer. You can also remove some of the bite of diced red onions by soaking them in ice water for 20 minutes before adding them to the salad.
- Other fresh veggies like carrots can be chopped up and added to shrimp pasta salad. Chopped hard-boiled eggs, sliced green olives, and shredded cheese are also sometimes added to this recipe.
- Be sure to use full-fat mayo and sour cream or yogurt to make the dressing. I’d also avoid Miracle Whip or other similar salad dressings.
- Fresh dill is best, but if you can’t find it, you can use 2 teaspoons (not tablespoons!) of dried dill weed instead.
- To Store: Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure not to allow this salad to sit out at room temperature or on a hot day for very long. It’s best to keep it refrigerated at all times.
- To Make Ahead: Assemble the salad up to 2 days ahead of time, but only dress it with half of the creamy dressing. Save the other half in a separate container. Just before serving, stir in the rest of the dressing so that it will taste like you just made it!
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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