One of my biggest summer goals each year is to dine outside as frequently as possible, and this Shrimp Pasta Salad is my faithful sidekick. It’s healthy, comes together in minutes, has a creamy Greek yogurt dressing, and is packed with colorful veggies.
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This summer shrimp pasta salad is a lighter spin on the Southern shrimp pasta salad that I remember making frequent appearances at our church potlucks and family reunions growing up.
- Like the original recipe, it has a creamy dressing, baby salad shrimp, and is simple to prepare.
- The flavors aren’t too strong, so it pleases a variety of palates.
- It’s easy to make ahead and highly portable.
All of the above are ideal qualities when you’re brainstorming a side dish to bring to a potluck or BBQ.
5 Star Review
“This is a delicious, easy recipe. So refreshing. This will be my new go-to salad at parties and picnics. Try it. You will love it.”— Patti —
How to Make Shrimp Pasta Salad
With uncomplicated ingredients and simple prep, this shrimp pasta salad is and should be a laid-back affair.
It’s one of those magical potluck dishes that tastes better an hour or two after you’ve prepared it, meaning you can make it ahead of time and know you have a delicious dish ready to go.
- Pasta. Instead of white pasta, use whole wheat! Whole grains = more fiber, protein, and nutrients. I bet no one will even notice the swap.
- Shrimp. One of my favorite seafood additions to pasta salad. It’s easy, tasty, and nutritious. Shrimp is rich in protein, calcium, and potassium. Using precooked shrimp cuts down on the prep time too.
- Fresh Veggies. I loaded the shrimp pasta salad with peas, red bell pepper, and celery, with a sprinkle of green onion for punch. They make the pasta salad crunchy, colorful, and nutritious.
- Greek Yogurt. Typically southern shrimp pasta salad is made with mayo (or in a pinch, bottled Italian salad dressing). I ditched both in favor of protein-rich Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt ensures this is still a creamy shrimp pasta salad, but it’s healthier and adds a bit of tang.
- Lemon. It lightens and brightens. For an even more pronounced lemon shrimp pasta salad, try adding lemon zest too.
- Dijon Mustard + White Vinegar. The combination of these two with the lemon juice gives the pasta salad dressing complexity and zip. I realize it might seem a bit high-maintenance to call for all three, but I promise you won’t regret it.
- Honey. To keep the dressing in balance.
- Cayenne. To keep us on our toes. Don’t worry, the dressing is not spicy; the cayenne is ultra subtle and simply provides a more well-rounded taste.
- Fresh Dill. It makes every bite sing with summer!
- Cook pasta, then drain and rinse it with cold water. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.
- Place the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Add the pasta and dressing. Stir to combine.
- Chill the salad for 1 hour. ENJOY!
- To Store. Shrimp pasta salad will last in the fridge for up to 4 days. Stir to recombine and top with a bit of additional lemon juice and pinch of salt to wake up the leftovers. You can serve this recipe directly from the fridge as a chilled shrimp pasta salad or let it come closer to room temperature.
- To Freeze. Shrimp pasta salad cannot be frozen, as it will turn very mushy once thawed.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, chop the celery, bell pepper, green onion, and dill.
What to Serve with Shrimp Pasta Salad
The best side dish for pasta salad is whatever you most enjoy! Try it with BBQ, burgers, or a green salad.
- Ribs. Crockpot Ribs or Instant Pot Ribs would be tasty (don’t miss my homemade Barbecue Sauce).
- Chicken. Crockpot BBQ Chicken and this pasta salad are a perfect match.
- Burgers. This salad would be delicious with an Avocado Burger, Green Chile Grilled Chicken Burgers, or a Vegan Burger. For the shrimp lovers, pair this salad with a Shrimp Burger.
- Salad. Pair this pasta salad with a green salad like Arugula Salad or Spinach Strawberry Salad. Creamy Cucumber Salad would also be wonderful.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. The large bowl is perfect for making pasta salad recipes.
- Colander. I love how this one collapses for easy storage.
- Citrus Juicer. Juicing lemons is easy with this tool.
If you try this shrimp pasta salad recipe for your next gathering, picnics, or for a fast, healthy meal, I’d love to hear what you think. Please let me know how the recipe turned out in the comments section below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. While I’m all for time savings when you can, for pasta salad you should rinse noodles in cold water immediately after cooking them. Cold water stops the cooking and removes some of the starch so the noodles don’t clump together.
No, you can make this recipe with any type of shrimp you enjoy. If you’re using larger shrimp, I recommend it being peeled, deveined, cooked, and roughly chopped before adding it to the salad. You could also experiment by adding chopped shrimp with Grilled Shrimp Seasoning or Air Fryer Shrimp.
There are two main things to keep in mind when preparing and storing pasta salad. First, make sure to cook your pasta according to the package directions. While most times we want al dente pasta (like for this Garlic Shrimp Pasta), you’ll actually want to cook it slightly longer for pasta salad so that it doesn’t get hard in the refrigerator. Second, make sure you either cover the bowl very tightly with plastic wrap or transfer the leftovers to an airtight storage container.
If you’d like to experiment with another type of seafood, you certainly can. Pasta salad with shrimp and crab meat would be tasty. I think adding Smoked Salmon would be delightful too.
Shrimp Pasta Salad
For the Shrimp and Pasta:
- 8 ounces uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni or similar small pasta, such as mini shells (about 2 cups uncooked macaroni)
- 1 pound frozen salad shrimp thawed and patted dry, or use roughly chopped peeled and deveined cooked shrimp
- 1 cup diced celery about 2 stalks
- 1 red bell pepper cored and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- 2 green onions finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
For the Dressing:
- Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions. Drain in a colander, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Shake off as much water as possible. Let the colander with the pasta sit in the sink or on a towel to continue draining while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients: Greek yogurt, lemon juice, honey, white vinegar, Dijon, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- In a large serving bowl, place the shrimp, celery, bell pepper, peas, green onion, and dill. Shake the pasta once more, then add it to the bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and stir gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
- If time allows, place the pasta in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour prior to serving. Enjoy directly from the fridge or at room temperature.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days. Stir to recombine and top with a bit of additional lemon juice and pinch of salt to wake up the leftovers.
- TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Use gluten-free pasta noodles (be VERY careful not to overcook them, and drain them immediately).
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