This seafood pasta salad is a New England summer vacation in a bowl! Creamy pasta shells are tossed with Old Bay seasoning, lots of shrimp and crab, lemon, onion, celery and herbs.

Creamy shell pasta noodles with shrimp, crab, celery and herbs.

“I live in Virginia Beach so I used jumbo lump local crab meat and this was AMAZING! My whole family loved it! I did add a little more Old Bay because we love that here down south. Enjoy!”


With as much as I love seafood, I think I could easily move to New England and fit right in. But maybe I’d bring a few Midwest quirks with me, like buttermilk marinade for chicken and watermelon and mint salad, and a deep love of pasta salad of all kinds.

Whether it’s my mom’s classic macaroni salad that I grew up with, or fancified versions full of tomatoes and asparagus like my goat cheese pasta salad and acini de pepe pasta salad, cold noodle dishes are a staple on my dinner menu in the summertime.

And while I generally think of shrimp as a main dish protein for my coconut risotto, shrimp ramen or my recipe for shrimp pizza, it really fits right into pasta salad quite nicely.

This seafood pasta salad recipe with both shrimp and crab is my virtual trip to New England this summer. Don’t forget to pack the Old Bay seasoning!

Why you’ll love this Crab Pasta Salad

  • It’s a versatile side dish for just about any main course, but it can also be eaten as a cold entree all summer long!
  • Despite its gourmet appeal, it’s surprisingly simple to prepare, with just a few simple steps.
  • The generous bit of Old Bay seasoning sets this recipe apart from others in the most flavorful way.
Wooden tabletop with ingredients for seafood pasta salad in small bowls, including pasta, spices, herbs, vegetables and mayonnaise.

What is in this seafood pasta salad recipe?

  • pasta – I used medium shells, since they kind of remind me of the ocean. You can also use elbows to make seafood macaroni salad; bowties and fusilli are also popular choices for this seafood pasta salad recipe.
  • mayonnaise – not “salad dressing,” please. Real mayo, Hellman’s preferred for this pasta salad with seafood!
  • sugar – just a teaspoon, which helps bring out the natural sweetness of the crab.
  • lemon juice – freshly squeezed from a real lemon.
  • Old Bay seasoning – absolutely crucial to get that “New England” flavor into this crab and shrimp pasta salad. This seasoning mix includes celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and paprika.
  • salt – for a little extra seasoning.
  • shrimp – look for a bag of frozen “salad shrimp” at the store. This is very small (100+ or even 200+ per pound) cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp. Just thaw and it’s ready to eat! If you can’t find this, you can buy larger cooked shrimp and chop them up into bite-sized pieces.
  • crab meat – I used canned, lump crabmeat. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but you CAN use imitation crabmeat here.
  • celery – two stalks, chopped up, for crunch!
  • onion – I carefully measure this out so I’m sure I’m using 1/4 cup. Just enough to lend the shrimp and crab pasta salad a little onion flavor, but not so much that it overpowers the flavor of the seafood.
  • dill – I love the flavor of fresh dill, but you can also use half the amount of dried dill.
  • chives – thinly sliced green onion (green parts only) also works.
Serving bowl filled with creamy crab and shrimp pasta salad.

How to make Shrimp and Crab Pasta Salad

First, get your water boiling. When it’s boiling, add a generous amount of salt, and the pasta, and cook according to the package instructions for “al dente.”

Thaw the shrimp in a colander under some cold running water, if necessary, and open the can of crabmeat.

Chop up the vegetables (onion and celery) and herbs (dill and chives).

Then, make the shrimp and crab pasta salad dressing by stirring together the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, Old Bay and salt. Make the dressing in a bowl large enough to add all the other salad ingredients.

By now, the pasta should be done cooking. Drain it, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process, then drain it again, very well.

Add the pasta to the bowl with the dressing, along with the seafood, vegetables and herbs. Gently toss everything together with a spatula, and this crab and shrimp pasta salad is done!

Cover and refrigerate this seafood pasta salad at least two hours before serving (or up to two days) to allow the flavors to develop.

Can you make Crab Pasta Salad the night before?

Yes! You can make and refrigerate this seafood pasta salad for up to two days, so I highly recommend making it the night before you plan on serving it.

Serving bowl filled with shrimp and crab pasta salad.

Pasta Seafood Salad variations

  • LOBSTER – For a truly indulgent treat, use chunks of fresh lobster in place of the crab.
  • CORN – If corn is in season, add a handful of fresh kernels for a touch of sweetness and crunch.

Home Chef Tips for Crab Pasta Salad

  • Use high quality, lump crab meat for the best flavor. Canned works just great, but if you have access to fresh crab meat, that’s even better!
  • Don’t cook your pasta any longer than the package instructions for al dente. This will prevent it from becoming mushy when mixed with other ingredients.

Pasta Seafood Salad storage

Can you freeze seafood pasta salad?

The answer here is that you probably COULD freeze this shrimp and crab pasta salad, but I really don’t recommend it.

One time I tried to freeze some traditional pasta salad (just noodles, Italian dressing and veggies), and honestly, once it was thawed again, the texture was just off. It really wasn’t too enjoyable to eat the second time around.

Not only will the texture of the noodles in this seafood pasta salad recipe suffer, but I don’t think the texture of the shrimp and crab will be very good after freezing and thawing.

So, if possible, refrigerate this crab and shrimp pasta salad and eat it within two days of making it for the best flavor and texture.

Serving bowl filled with seafood pasta salad, with serving spoon in it.

What to serve with Seafood Salad Pasta

Honestly, a lot of times (especially on really hot summer days), I’ll eat this seafood pasta salad as my entree. I’ve even been known to serve it on a brunch menu.

But, if I’m serving it more as a side dish to a main course for dinner, some of my favorite entrees to serve this with are slow cooker baby back ribs (don’t forget the dry rub recipe), grilled zucchini roll ups and my umami burger recipe.

Seafood Salad Pasta FAQs

What can I do with leftover dill and chives?

You’ll probably have leftover herbs after making this crab and shrimp pasta salad. But don’t worry, they don’t need to go to waste.

Chives are most often used as a garnish, such as for phyllo cup appetizers. They can also be used to make my homemade tartar sauce.

Extra dill left over from pasta salad with seafood can be used to make lemon herb mayonnaise for a smoked salmon BLT.

Or, if you’re so inclined, Better Homes & Gardens has a nice tutorial on how to freeze fresh herbs.

Serving bowl filled with shrimp and crab pasta salad.

Pasta Seafood Salad

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This seafood pasta salad is a New England summer vacation in a bowl! Creamy pasta shells are tossed with Old Bay seasoning, lots of shrimp and crab, lemon, onion, celery and herbs.


  • 1/2 pound medium shell pasta
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for pasta water
  • 6 ounces salad shrimp, thawed and patted dry
  • 4 ounces lump crabmeat
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill


  1. Heat large pot of salted water to boiling over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
  2. Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, Old Bay and salt until smooth. Add shrimp, crabmeat, celery, onion, chives, dill and pasta; toss until well combined.
  3. For best flavor, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 497mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 11g

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