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Full of simple and fresh ingredients, Aunt Bee’s Southern Shrimp Pasta Salad has been a family favorite for decades! It’s the perfect side dish for your next cookout, an easy option for a weeknight dinner, or a refreshing make-ahead lunch. You’ll love the flavorful combination of peas, lemon, dill, and a creamy mayo dressing in this cold Shrimp Pasta Salad recipe!

Close overhead image of a bowl of lemon shrimp pasta salad surrounded by fresh parsley and lemons on the table

How to Make Shrimp Pasta Salad | 1-Minute Video

Creamy Shrimp Pasta Salad with Mayo

This creamy Shrimp Pasta Salad with mayo is one of my go-to summer recipes when I want something comforting, delicious and easy to throw together. It’s incredibly simple, yet it always wins rave reviews. Plus, if you can boil pasta, you can make this dish! There’s no need to turn on the oven, and you don’t even have to cook your own shrimp.

Where This Recipe Came From

My mom’s godmother, Aunt Bee, is a fine Southern hostess in the best sense of the term! She has served holiday meals, cocktails, and lunches to our friends and family for as long as I can remember, and her dishes are always delicious. She has a knack for preparing classic recipes in a way that feels special and decadent. She knows which ingredients work best together, and she also knows some genius shortcuts to keep prep time in the kitchen minimal. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

Over the past ten years, Aunt Bee has been sharing treasures from her past (and present!) with me — including fond memories of my grandmother (her best friend), her family’s holiday traditions and keepsakes, and some of her most treasured recipes.

Close up side shot of Southern Shrimp Pasta Salad on a wooden table

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make Aunt Bee’s Southern Shrimp Pasta Salad. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Shrimp: Purchase a bag of frozen, cooked, peeled and deveined small shrimp. Let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight, drain them and pat them dry, then stir them directly into the salad. I love a shortcut that doesn’t require any cooking!
  • Pasta: Elbow macaroni is a classic addition to this pasta salad, but you can substitute with any similar small pasta shape, such as rotini, shells, farfalle (bowties) or penne.
  • Green onion: Provides a mild onion flavor.
  • Green bell pepper and celery: Bulk up the salad with crisp, fresh, crunchy texture.
  • Peas: Thawed frozen peas add a sweet touch and bright green color.
  • Mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, fresh dill, salt and pepper: Simple ingredients that come together for a flavorful, creamy dressing.
Overhead shot of ingredients for shrimp pasta salad recipe

How to Cook Shrimp for Pasta Salad

As I mentioned above, I like to buy a bag of small, pre-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp in the frozen seafood section at the grocery store. Then I just need to thaw them, pat them dry, and add them directly to the salad — no cooking necessary!

If you’re starting with raw shrimp, you will need to cook them before stirring them into the pasta salad. To do so, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the liquid boils, turn off the heat. Add the shrimp to the hot water and allow the shrimp to poach, uncovered, for a couple of minutes (stirring occasionally) just until they turn pink.

While the shrimp cooks, prepare an ice bath by combining cold water and a lot of ice in a large bowl. When the shrimp is just pink and opaque, transfer the shrimp to the ice bath to immediately chill and stop the cooking process. Allow the shrimp to sit in the ice bath for 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and peel. Pat dry again, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

How to Make Shrimp Pasta Salad

This creamy Shrimp Pasta Salad is not fancy, but it disappears fast when you put it on the table. I especially love the variety of textures, from the creamy dressing to the crunchy vegetables and the tender pasta. Add in fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs for refreshing zest!

  1. Combine cooked shrimp, cooked pasta, green onion, bell pepper, celery and peas in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, dill, salt and pepper in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss to coat.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Process shot showing how to make shrimp pasta salad with mayo

What to Serve with Shrimp Pasta Salad

This hearty dish is filling enough to serve as an entrée, but it also works as a side with a piece of fish or grilled meat. Here are a few options that go well with Shrimp Pasta Salad:

Close up side shot of a silver serving spoon in a big bowl of creamy shrimp pasta salad

Make Ahead

For convenience, you can make this shrimp pasta salad the night before you plan to enjoy it. I recommend chilling the pasta salad for at least 30 minutes before serving to give the flavors a chance to “come together,” but overnight is fine as well. You might need to add a little bit more mayonnaise to the salad the next day if you find that the pasta has absorbed too much of the dressing.

How long can you refrigerate shrimp pasta salad?

Store the pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Can shrimp pasta salad be frozen?

No, I do not recommend freezing the pasta salad. The creamy dressing may “break” or separate when thawed, and the pasta and vegetables will be mushy.

Overhead shot of a bowl of shrimp pasta salad with mayo, lemon, peas and dill on a wooden table.

Recipe Variations

  • Any small pasta shape will work, so feel free to substitute rotini, small shells, farfalle (bowties) or penne for the macaroni.
  • For a stronger lemon flavor, add grated lemon zest to the dressing.
  • Use any fresh herbs that you enjoy. I love the combination of dill with seafood, but you can substitute with chopped fresh parsley, basil or chives.
  • Add a dash or two of Old Bay seasoning for a zesty touch.
  • Cooking for a smaller family? Cut all of the ingredients in half.
  • Crab and Shrimp Pasta Salad: Substitute jumbo lump crab meat or even imitation crab for half of the shrimp called for in this recipe.
Horizontal shot of a bowl of shrimp and pasta salad.

Tips for the Best Shrimp Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Use a high-quality mayonnaise for the dressing, since it adds so much flavor to the dish. I prefer Duke’s brand mayo.
  • Cook the pasta just until al dente, so that it’s not too mushy in the salad.
  • Liberally salt the pasta cooking water, since this is your chance to season the pasta.
  • Rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process. This also removes some of the starches from the noodles so that they don’t stick together in the salad.
  • Use small, cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp to eliminate prep work. I like the small (71-90 count per pound) size because they’re a bit larger and meatier than “salad shrimp,” but they’re still bite-size and don’t require chopping.
Overhead shot of a bowl of cold shrimp pasta salad on a table with blue and white striped towel

More Pasta Salad Recipes to Try

Close overhead image of a bowl of lemon shrimp pasta salad surrounded by fresh parsley and lemons on the table

Shrimp Pasta Salad

4.96 from 23 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 363.2 kcal
Full of simple and fresh ingredients, Aunt Bee's Shrimp Pasta Salad is the perfect side dish for your next cookout, an easy option for a weeknight dinner, or a refreshing make-ahead lunch. 

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. small (71-90 count per pound) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked (I buy the frozen, pre-cooked version for quick preparation)
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced dill
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse under cold water. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked shrimp, pasta, green onion, bell pepper, celery, and peas.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, dill, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour dressing over pasta mixture and gently toss until completely coated.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Any small pasta shape will work, so feel free to substitute rotini, small shells, farfalle (bowties) or penne for the macaroni.
  • For a stronger lemon flavor, add grated lemon zest to the dressing.
  • Use any fresh herbs that you enjoy. I love the combination of dill with seafood, but you can substitute with chopped fresh parsley, basil or chives.
  • Add a dash or two of Old Bay seasoning for a zesty touch.
  • Cooking for a smaller family? Cut all of the ingredients in half.
  • Crab and Shrimp Pasta Salad: substitute jumbo lump crab meat or even imitation crab for half of the shrimp called for in this recipe.
  • Use a high-quality mayonnaise for the dressing, since it adds so much flavor to the dish. I prefer Duke’s brand mayo.
  • Cook the pasta just until al dente, so that it’s not too mushy in the salad.
  • Liberally salt the pasta cooking water, since this is your chance to season the pasta.
  • Rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process. This also removes some of the starches from the noodles so that they don’t stick together in the salad.
  • Use small, cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp to eliminate prep work. I like the small (71-90 count per pound) size because they’re a bit larger and meatier than “salad shrimp,” but they’re still bite-size and don’t require chopping.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of recipeCalories: 363.2kcalCarbohydrates: 26.8gProtein: 16.7gFat: 21.2gSaturated Fat: 3.2gCholesterol: 120.5mgSodium: 498.9mgFiber: 2.6gSugar: 2.4g
Keyword: shrimp and pasta, shrimp pasta salad, shrimp salad
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in June, 2015. The photos were updated in April, 2021.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this earlier today, refrigerated for flavors to marry, and it was delicious. Will definitely be making again!! Thanks for the reciipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Awesome! Made it with small shell pasta. followed recipe exact! It is a keeper…love the dill!!! I used the one pound bag of small shrimp (some call them ‘day’ shrimp).. if I did it again, I’d cut the salt back by 1/2 and then see…I am a bit sodium sensitive and shrimp has a good amount of natural sodium. A big thank you!!

  3. 5 stars
    Awesome! Made it with small shell pasta. followed recipe exact! It is a keeper…love the dill!!! I used the one pound bag of small shrimp (some call them ‘bay’ shrimp).. if I did it again, I’d cut the salt back by 1/2 and then see…I am a bit sodium sensitive and shrimp has a good amount of natural sodium. A big thank you!!

  4. My son made it tonight. We found your recipe online so we didn’t have dill as it was to late for a shopping trip. Oh my goodness it was so yummy. Thank you

  5. Very tasty and good mix, my only change was the shrimp, I used medium size and pasta shells. My next go at it will be with Lobster and Crab meat.
    Thank you very much.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and my DH and I thought it was so tasty. I saved the recipe for future dinners. A light and flavorful dinner