A lavish blend of lump crab and shrimp tossed with tender pasta, crunchy celery, briny capers, fresh dill and a creamy, tangy salad dressing, Seafood Pasta Salad 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.
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
- 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
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.
More Delicious Pasta and Seafood Salads
- Crab Salad (The ultimate seafood salad made with real lump crab!)
- Shrimp Salad (A shrimp lovers salad with tender, flavorful shrimp tossed in a creamy dressing.)
- Italian Pasta Salad (Another of my favorite pasta salads, loaded with all of the Italian Salad ingredients you love.)
How to Make Seafood Pasta Salad
Step 1: Cook pasta until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Step 2: Bring 2 quarts water, lemon wedges and kosher salt to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook uncovered 2 to 3 minutes, until just cooked through. Transfer with slotted spoon to ice bath. When cool, transfer shrimp to colander and pat dry with paper towel.
Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, capers, dill, shallot, and fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon.
Step 4: 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.
Seafood Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces medium shell pasta or other short pasta
- 1 1/2 lemons divided
- 1 pound medium shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons 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
- 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 cook uncovered 2 to 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.
- 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.
- If you want to skip the crab, add an additional 1/2 pound of shrimp to the salad.
- You can make and refrigerate this salad several hours ahead of serving.