Seafood Pasta Salad (with Crab and Shrimp)

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.

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 grilled chicken, 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 buffalo shrimp pizza, it really fits right into pasta salad quite nicely.

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

Serving bowl filled with creamy crab and shrimp pasta salad.

What is in this seafood pasta salad recipe?

  • pasta – I used medium shells, since they kind of remind me of the ocean. Macaroni, bowties and fusilli are also popular choices for this seafood pasta salad recipe.
  • mayonnaise – not “salad dressing,” please. Real mayo, Hellman’s preferred!(same for my elote salad).
  • 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 (like I do for shrimp wonton soup).
  • crab meat – I used canned, lump crabmeat.
  • celery – two stalks, chopped up, for crunch! Use any extra celery to make the green sauce that goes with my chilean sea bass recipe.
  • 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. 
Wooden tabletop with ingredients for seafood pasta salad in small bowls, including pasta, spices, herbs, vegetables and mayonnaise.

How to make crab and shrimp 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.

Serving bowl filled with shrimp and crab pasta salad.

Can you make this shrimp and crab pasta salad the night before? How long does it last?

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.

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, just like my salmon pasta, this recipe is best eaten fresh, not frozen.

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 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 ham and potato soup or phyllo cup appetizers. Chives can also be used to make my simple tartar sauce recipe.

Extra dill can be used to make lemon herb mayonnaise for a smoked salmon BLT. Chives are also a key ingredient in yogurt dipping sauces for my Greek chicken meatballs and air fryer turkey meatballs.

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

More recipes that use crab:

Depending on how big of a can of crabmeat you bought, you may have some left over. Put it to another use in one of these recipes.

Yield: 6 servings

Seafood Pasta Salad

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

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.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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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Collage of images of ingredients for crab and shrimp pasta salad, and finished salad, with overlay: SEAFOOD PASTA SALAD with crab + shrimp.