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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 24 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. Your Aunt Bee sounds just so sweet, and her pasta salad looks amazing!! Definitely grabbing & pinning the recipe to make soon!!

  2. Oh MY! I have fresh shrimp, organic celery, dill etc. but not the frozen peas so I am going with what I have (I do believe this will be excellent when the fresh peas are in). So palate-pleasing simply to think of but I HAVE TO GET TO IT!

    Thank You (and I had a great Aunt Bea as well. Our Aunts lived in a very special time to have their complexly simple knowledge about ways of living well is treasured. For generations.

    krista

    1. Yay! I’m so glad that you’ll give it a try, Krista! Adapting the recipe to suit your kitchen and tastebuds is great!

        1. Hi, Mary!

          No problem — you can just omit that ingredient. If you want to substitute with a different herb, you could try parsley or chives. 🙂

          Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    I tried this today and it is killer! I substituted cucumbers vs. peas and added parsley and some Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning! It was a major hit in my house! Definitely a go-to for barbecues!

    1. Yay!! I’m so glad that you liked it, Kelsey! Thanks for letting me know! It’s definitely a favorite in our family, too. I’m glad that summer’s here and I have an excuse to start making it again!

  4. Hey, Maggie! It’s from Target. 🙂 I got it about a year and a half ago, though — so it might not be there anymore. They have plenty of other great white options, though…definitely check it out!

  5. 5 stars
    I love this shrimp pasta salad. It’s the second time I’ve made it and it’s wonderful. I omitted the bell pepper and celery this time but the flavors are still delicious. Thank you for an awesome recipe

  6. I was wondering if you could make this ahead. I am always looking for a new recipe for our deli lunch options. How long can you keep in in the fridge. 3 days?

  7. Oh this pasta salad looks so good! I don’t think I’ve had a shrimp version before, so I’m loving this fun twist. What a great recipe to honor your Aunt with!

  8. I came by via Google after trying to find a ‘”Classic shrimp & pasta salad” like my grandmother used to make. This reads as close as I can recall, though she used shell pasta and fresh or frozen baby peas. Thank you for posting this!

    1. That’s wonderful! I’m so glad that you found this recipe. Enjoy the dish (and the memories of your grandmother)! 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    Delicious. I made this for a ladies who lunch a lot luncheon and it was a big hit. So versatile. I omitted peas, didnt have any. You could add so many things and take it in any direction but is wonderful as is. Thank you.

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this for the past three summers!!! I absolutely love the combined flavors…. especially the shrimp!! Potato salad is great but this salad is fast and easy and it never gets old!!! Bravo!!!

  11. Looking for simple recipes to take to church Homecoming Sunday pot luck lunch. Like that Aunt Bee’s Shrimp-Macaroni Salad & Dump & Bake Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole recipes are adaptable to tastes and use ingredients in most pantries and fridges. Plus, you can cut to smaller portions. Glad I found this site. I will be subbing Red and Yellow Bell Pepper in salad. Will be back with ratings.

  12. Wonderful! I didn’t realize that Southern Living was the original source of this recipe. So glad that you can enjoy it again!

  13. I just made it for the first time and I found that the pasta to shrimp ratio wasn’t enough for me so I would increase the shrimp to 1 1/2 lbs and decrease the celery to 1 1/2 cups. I would also do a mix of red and green bell peppers just to add some color to the salad.

  14. 5 stars
    I had some leftover shrimp from a Christmas party and was looking for a classic shrimp salad recipe (like I remember from my childhood) and this was it!! So perfect. Thanks for sharing and now that I found your site I’m anxious to try some of your other recipes!

  15. I just made this recipe, but I tinkered some within the confines of the ingredients. I used tri color rotini rather than shells or elbows, orange bell pepper rather than green. I also made my dressing with mayo, lemon juice, dill weed, celery salt, parsley, lemon pepper and a small pinch of kosher salt. So, yes, I have all your ingredients, just looking a little different.

    I think I need to add just a bit more salt to the dressing, but otherwise it is very good, full of flavor, color and texture. It’s a keeper!
    Oh, and by the way, the site wouldn’t let me rate it. I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5.

  16. 5 stars
    Made this today and it is delicious, just as the recipe is written. I decided (with my apologies to your Aunt Bee and being the good Maryland girl that I am, to add Old Bay to the recipe and a bit of cayenne pepper. Thank you for sharing your memories and this recipe. It’s a keeper!

  17. I made this salad today. It was so simple and it’s absolutely delicious! I used half the dill and I used white fiber small shells as the pasta choice. This will go into my family favorites recipe file. Can’t wait to try more of Aunt Bee’s recipes. Thanks so much for sharing.

  18. 5 stars
    I make this all the time just add Old Bay Seasoning and it is perfect. Trader Joe’s has started selling a nice bag of North Atlantic 11 oz. cooked shrimp (small) but have good flavor. Many times those tiny shrimp have no flavor at all. I use one bag with this recipe and it works out great.