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Seafood Pasta Pasta Salad is a lavish blend of lump crab and juicy shrimp tossed with tender pasta, crunchy celery, briny capers, fresh dill and a creamy, tangy salad dressing. It just may just be the perfect summer dish! Easy enough to enjoy on a weeknight or take to a picnic, but worthy of a dinner party or date night.

seafood pasta salad served in a yellow ceramic bowl

Made in about 20 minutes, this seafood salad recipe is ideal for dressing up short pastas, like small or medium shell pasta, bow tie pasta (farfalle), or elbow macaroni. Serve as a summer side dish alongside anything your grilling, or as the main attraction for a satisfying lunch or dinner.

Ingredients You Need to Make this Seafood Pasta Salad Recipe

Seafood Pasta Salad ingredients on a white marble board
Seafood Pasta Salad ingredients
  • Shrimp: I recommend using medium shrimp or large shrimp cut in half crosswise.
  • Crab: Real lump crab meat makes this salad special. I don’t recommend imitation crabmeat – see my Crab Salad post to learn more about it.
  • Pasta: Any short pasta will do, but I’m partial to shell pasta for this salad
  • Lemons: One for seasoning the shrimp cooking water and 1/2 of another for the dressing. You may also want wedges for serving.
  • Kosher Salt: For seasoning the shrimp cooking water.
  • Mayonnaise: Use your favorite brand or make your homemade Avocado Oil Mayonnaise in just a few minutes with an immersion blender.
  • Dijon Mustard: A smooth, strong version is best.
  • Capers: Small, non-pareil capers are ideal.
  • Dill: It’s worth it to use fresh dill (not dried) for this salad. Use leftover sprigs for garnish.
  • Shallot: Look for a firm shallot with tight, shiny skin.
  • Celery: Look for firm, bright green celery ribs.
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
seafood pasta salad served in a yellow ceramic bowl photgraphed from above

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Pasta Salad.

  1. Overcooking the Pasta: Cook the pasta until al dente (firm to the bite) before adding it to the pasta salad. Overcooked pasta is soft and likely to fall apart, making it difficult to mix with other ingredients which can ruin the texture of the salad.
  2. Not Cooling the Pasta: Drain your perfectly cooked pasta, then rinse with cold water until cool. Be sure to drain well before adding the dressing so it’s sure to adhere to the noodles.
  3. Using the Wrong Amount of Dressing: The pasta and seafood should be lightly coated with dressing, not swimming in it. Too much dressing will make the pasta salad goopy and overpower the other flavors. Start with a small amount and add more if needed.
  4. Incorrect Seasoning (too much or too little): Some pasta salads are too salty, while some lack flavor simply because they are under-seasoned. Season the dressing to taste, keeping in mind that the seafood itself may be salty.
  5. Not Pre-Cooking Seafood: Be sure that your shrimp and crab are properly cooked and cooled before adding to the salad.
  6. Using the Wrong Pasta Shape: Medium shell pasta is ideal for this pasta salad, but many short pasta shapes would work well, like gemelli pasta or rotini. Long pastas aren’t a good option for pasta salad.
  7. Opting for Fresh Pasta instead of Dried: Though fresh pasta is delicious, it’s fragile and more likely to fall apart in a pasta salad – opt for dried pasta instead.

Recipe Options

  • For extra seasoning in the shrimp cooking water, use 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning (find in the spice section of your local grocery store) instead of kosher salt.
  • Add finely chopped green onions instead of or in addition to shallots to add gentle heat and oniony flavor. And/or add finely chopped red bell pepper for added sweetness and crunch.
  • Cooking the shrimp until just pink in well seasoned water is key to enhancing the shrimp’s flavor and texture in this salad. For convenience, you can buy pre-cooked shrimp, but it’s worth the effort to cook it fresh if you have time.
  • Feel free to adjust the amount of mayonnaise to your taste or switch things up by replacing all or part of it with whole milk plain yogurt or sour cream.

Serving Tips

This Seafood Pasta Salad makes a delightful side dish for any summer gathering, BBQ or potluck. It’s also a great main course dish when served with crusty bread and a green salad. For an elegant presentation, spoon the pasta salad into individual bowls and garnish with fresh dill.

More Delicious Pasta and Seafood Salads

How to Make Seafood Pasta Salad

Cook pasta until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

cooking draining and rinsing seashell pasta

Bring 2 quarts water, lemon wedges and kosher salt to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cover; remove from heat and let stand 3 minutes, or until just cooked through. Transfer with slotted spoon to ice bath. When cool, transfer shrimp to colander and pat dry with paper towel.

cooking cooling and patting dry shrimp

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, capers, dill, shallot, and fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon.

whisking dressing ingredients together for seafood pasta salad

Add pasta, shrimp, lump crab, and celery to large salad bowl. Spoon dressing over and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

stirring seafood pasta salad ingredients
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Seafood Pasta Salad

5 from 10 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Calories: 422
Servings: 8 people
A delicious and satisfying main course pasta salad loaded with succulent shrimp and crab tossed in a creamy dressing.

Ingredients  

  • 16 ounces medium shell pasta or other short pasta
  • 1 1/2 lemons divided
  • 1 pound medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise or 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill plus more for garnish, optional
  • 1 medium shallot minced
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces lump crab meat (recipe note #2)
  • 3 ribs celery diced small

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain, shaking to remove as much water as possible. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cut one lemon into wedges. (Reserve remaining half lemon for dressing.)
  • Prepare ice bath for shrimp.
  • Bring 2 quarts water, lemon wedges and kosher salt to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cover; remove from heat and let stand 3 minutes, until just cooked through. Transfer with slotted spoon to ice bath.
  • When shrimp are cool, lift out of ice bath with slotted spoon. Pat dry and add to large bowl.
  • To a separate bowl add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, capers, dill, and shallot. Squeeze remaining lemon half over (about 1 tablespoon of fresh juice). Whisk until well combined. Season to taste with pepper.
  • Add pasta, lump crab, and celery to shrimp in salad bowl. Spoon mayonnaise mixture over and gently toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh dill if desired before serving.

Notes

  1. Note that you’ll need 1 1/2 lemons for this recipe – one for the shrimp boiling water and another 1/2 for the dressing. 
  2. If you want to skip the crab, add an additional 1/2 pound of shrimp to the salad.
  3. You can make and refrigerate this salad several hours ahead of serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 422kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 1361mg | Potassium: 429mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 207IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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29 Comments

  1. Gretchen says:

    I’ve been looking for something similar to this recipe published 40 years ago. I added blanched pea pods, white wine, and cherry tomatoes. Festive colors for the Christmas Season lunches.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Gretchen! So glad you enjoyed this and added your own touches to the recipe.

  2. Mimi Rippee says:

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe! Cannot wait to make it.

  3. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    You had me at pasta salad! It’s pasta salad season, and the flavors here are definitely a twist on our normal go-to’s. I love that you use both shrimp and crab…and all of that fresh dill has my mouth watering!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks, David! I hope you’ll give this salad a try!

  4. Gloria says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! I couldn’t find any fresh dill so I had to opt for fresh parsley. Other than that I followed the recipe to a T. Thank you for sharing ❤️

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      My pleasure, Gloria! So glad you enjoyed this!

  5. mimi rippee says:

    love love love this. Seriously. And I now know where I can find fairly fresh crab meat, so I’m excited!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I hope you’ll love it, Mimi!