Shrimp Pasta Salad

This EASY Shrimp Pasta Salad comes together in less than 30 minutes! It’s perfect for gatherings and potlucks, and you can even make it ahead of time!

Shrimp pasta salad in a white serving bowl


Shrimp Pasta Salad is the best dish to bring to any party. This dish has a zing to it that will help bring those family gatherings and neighborhood potlucks to life.

I’m always on the hunt for new sides dishes. Bonus points if I can make it ahead and it also serves as the perfect potluck recipe. Cold Shrimp Pasta Salad ticks all those boxes. 

Another win for this dish is that if someone doesn’t like shrimp, they can easily pick it out and enjoy the pasta. However, I’ve NEVER seen anyone NOT love this dish. So, you can have a lot of confidence in knowing this southern Shrimp Pasta Salad is a crowd pleaser.

ingredients for shrimp pasta salad

When life is busy or you’re just plain short on time, you need side dishes that are going to not take you the whole day to make. Plus, there are times I don’t feel like turning on the stove to cook. 

PRO TIP: Fresh lemon juice packs a lot more punch than bottled. Use fresh and lemon zest for even more flavor. 

If you can relate to these two scenarios, then this is the perfect summer pasta salad with shrimp for you. Bell pepper, red onion, celery and shrimp make this the perfect cold pasta salad. 

spoonful of pasta salad

This recipe calls for using small shrimp. The reason for this is when you’re serving pasta style type dish, you don’t want HUGE shrimp. Smaller shrimp are bite-sized and just easier to have in a salad.

You can always use a larger shrimp, but I suggest cutting them into smaller pieces. 

Using cooked shrimp for this dish is not only a time saver, but it goes perfect in a cold dish. This shrimp pasta salad recipe is a cold dish, which means pre-cooked cold shrimp rocks this dish. 

Pasta salad on a side plate

How to Make Shrimp Pasta Salad

Now that we’ve talked about the ins-and-outs and creating a delicious shrimp pasta salad, it’s time to make it. You are only steps away from having a beautiful salad to take to all of those gatherings.

Cook the pasta according to the directions. While the pasta is cooking, you can dice the onion, celery, and red pepper, add to a large bowl.

ingredients for shrimp salad

Set aside this bowl and begin the process for making the dressing. I think the dressing really brings this whole dish together. Once the pasta is done, you will add this to the large bowl that’s full of onion, celery, and red pepper.

pasta salad dressing in a bowl

Add shrimp to the bowl and the wonderful dressing to the dish and toss. You will want to put the shrimp pasta salad in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This makes an excellent main dish or side dish. There is only one thing left to do and that’s to enjoy!

Dressing in a glass jar

Questions you might have about how to make shrimp pasta salad: 

How do I thaw frozen shrimp for this recipe?

Speaking of frozen pre-cooked shrimp, if you’re unfamiliar with how to thaw this, I have a quick tip for you.

Grab a bowl and put the pre-cooked frozen shrimp in it. Place in fridge overnight and allow the shrimp to thaw that way.

Another way to thaw frozen shrimp is by opening the bag, placing the shrimp in a strainer. Turn on the cold water and allow this to run over the shrimp for about 10 minutes.

You don’t want to use hot water because the shrimp is already cooked and you’re creating a cold dish. Give one of these tips a try and it will make the process of thawing shrimp a lot easier.

Bowl of pasta salad

Why do I need to store shrimp pasta salad in the fridge?

Since this is a cold pasta dish, it needs to be in the fridge. If you will be serving this dish outside, then you will need to have a way to keep it cold.

A little secret for keeping this dish cold out in the hot heat is to fill a large bowl full of ice. Place the shrimp pasta salad on top of the other bowl. This will keep things nice and cold.

How can I tell if shrimp is bad?

I’m not sure if there is anything worse than bad seafood. You can easily tell if shrimp is bad by simply smelling it. You should be able to tell if shrimp is bad by the sheer smell of it.

If not, you can tell if shrimp is bad by looking at it. Lay it out so you can look at each one to tell if it’s good or bad. While this can be annoying, it’s better than eating bad shrimp.

One more tip for making this delicious shrimp pasta salad is that this dish can be made ahead of time. However, you will want to add the shrimp last. I’ve made this dish up to 24 hours in advance before.

Can I freeze shrimp salad?

I do not recommend freezing this dish. Chances are that the shrimp were previously frozen and the dressing, although free of mayonnaise, isn’t the best frozen.

Can I use a different type of mustard?

Sure! Get creative and use a spicy mustard, yellow mustard, brown mustard… any mustard you’d like!

Can I just use Italian dressing?

You can, but homemade it so much better!

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Elbow pasta, also known as macaroni, is certainly the most popular for pasta salads, but you can use other shapes too. I would suggest a shape that is small and bite-sized that has lots of nooks and crannies to help hold the dressing.

If you liked this easy side dish recipe, check these salad recipes out: 

easy pasta salad in white bowl

Bowl of pasta salad

Shrimp Pasta Salad

4.84 from 6 votes
Shrimp Pasta Salad is the best dish to bring to any party. This dish is has a zing to it that will help bring those family gatherings and neighborhood potlucks to life.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8




  • Cook pasta according to box directions for al dente. Strain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Meanwhile combine diced onion, celery, and red pepper to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients including olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Add cooked and cooled pasta to mixing bowl, toss to combine with chopped vegetables.
  • Add shrimp, stir to combine.
  • Add dressing and toss until well combined.
  • Place in refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!


Calories: 242 kcal, Carbohydrates: 45 g, Protein: 12 g, Fat: 1 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 54 mg, Sodium: 180 mg, Potassium: 196 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 3 g, Vitamin A: 330 IU, Vitamin C: 17.2 mg, Calcium: 48 mg, Iron: 1.2 mg
Calories: 242
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy shrimp salad, shrimp pasta salad
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
shrimp pasta salad for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.84 from 6 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I’m SO glad that you posted this recipe. It sounds delish, and I’ll try it soon, since I always like to try something new. I grew up in Old Saybrook CT (a town on the Atlantic Ocean in CT) and everyone makes all kinds of salads & seafood dishes with our fresh daily catch. Very popular is “Neptune Salad”, made with Seashell Pasta (makes sense to me), Shrimp, diced celery, some diced purple onion OR chives, a good quality mayonnaise, a few drops of lemon juice, salt & pepper (to taste), and some fresh dill, which is the key to our “Neptune Salad”. I always have fresh shrimp on hand, so I’m making your Shrimp Pasta Salad today. My DH will be grilling steaks, so your salad will surely be enjoyed.

  2. 5 stars
    My daughter always asks for a pasta salad for her birthday. I love the addition of shrimp. I will give this a try next time. I bet she will love it.