Seafood Pasta Salad Recipe

This gorgeous Seafood Pasta Salad is as special as it gets. It’s chock full of crab, shrimp, or lobster meat, whatever you crave—plus tender vegetables and a light vinaigrette that’s perfect for summer barbecues.

In case you haven’t noticed, this classic summer pasta salad recipe definitely takes it up a notch or two at parties. But if you’re looking for other fun salads that are perfect for grilling out and picnics, look no further: the Best Macaroni Salad is a click away, as is Baby Bok Choy Salad made with ramen noodles or a Seven Layer Salad to end all other layered salads.

This gorgeous Seafood Pasta Salad is as special as it gets. It’s chock full of crab, shrimp, or lobster meat, whatever you crave—plus tender vegetables and a light vinaigrette that’s perfect for summer barbecues.

Making Seafood Pasta Salad for an elegant luncheon for 50? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

Seafood Pasta Salad Ingredients:

Feel free to switch it up, but this classic Southern recipe calls for:

Elbow macaroni. You can use any type of small pasta you prefer: rotini, fusilli, farfalle, bow-tie, penne. Have fun!

Parmesan cheese. Grated parmesan cheese adds earthiness to the pasta salad. Do it yourself or buy it already grated at the store. No one will be the wiser.

Seafood. Cold poached shrimp, surimi (imitation) crab chunks, lump crabmeat, or (gasp!) poached lobster, cut into chunks. This is your party; make it fabulous!

Italian salad dressing. Your favorite bottle of vinaigrette at the grocery store, or my favorite homemade recipe.

Mayonnaise. Hellman’s or Best Foods are excellent choices.

Grape tomatoes. They get cut in half lengthwise.

Broccoli. Blanched vibrant broccoli adds color and taste.

Red pepper. Any bell pepper you have works, but I love red for contrast and a little sweetness.

Scallions. Whites, greens, and all.
This gorgeous Seafood Pasta Salad is as special as it gets. It’s chock full of crab, shrimp, or lobster meat, whatever you crave—plus tender vegetables and a light vinaigrette that’s perfect for summer barbecues.

How to blanch broccoli florets:

Broccoli is delicious in any salad, but it’s even more so when it’s just barely cooked and beautifully bright green. Here’s how to do it.

By the way, the technique works well on asparagus, green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas, and even carrots.

  1. Heat 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Keep this bowl nearby while the broccoli cooks.
  2. Place the broccoli in to the boiling water (sometimes dropping the florets in using a mesh sieve works great, for easy removal) and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until broccoli is bright green and just tender but still crisp.
  3. Drain (or lift out with the sieve) and immediately plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well so the broccoli doesn’t get soggy.
    Raw broccoli is fine and all, but a quick cooking method called blanching takes broccoli from boring to darn right tasty. Here’s How to Blanch Broccoli for adding to salads, veggie bowls, and the prettiest vegetable platter ever.

How to make Seafood Pasta Salad:

  1. Magically easy! First things first, pick your pasta. Elbow macaroni, bow tie, rotini, small shells, whatever favorite shape you have. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and dump the pasta in.
  2. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 to 12 minutes depending on the shape of the pasta.
  3. Next, you have to blanch the broccoli florets and prep the vegetables: tomatoes, bell peppers, and scallions.
  4. All that is left is the dressing. Whisk together your favorite Italian vinaigrette, good mayo, and grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Toss the pasta, vegetables, and about 3/4 of the salad dressing together in a large bowl. Finally, gently fold in the seafood. Add more dressing if you think it needs it, and toss until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until time to serve.

Can you make Seafood Pasta Salad in advance?

This salad is at its finest when it is freshly dressed and insanely juicy. The pasta can absorb the dressing and make the salad less juicy over time, so I really recommend making it the moment you’re planning to serve it.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t get all the ingredients prepped, the pasta cooked, and the salad dressing made and ready to go, however! Tote everything to the party separately and dress it on site.

Use the extra dressing to freshen up the salad halfway through dinner.

This gorgeous Seafood Pasta Salad is as special as it gets. It’s chock full of crab, shrimp, or lobster meat, whatever you crave—plus tender vegetables and a light vinaigrette that’s perfect for summer barbecues.

How do you store Seafood Pasta Salad?

This salad loves to be served chilled, in a bowl over ice, or on pretty chilled plates.

Because this recipe uses mayonnaise, it needs to be refrigerated. Seafood salad will hold up for 4 days in the refrigerator, if need be. Store it in an airtight, covered container, or wrap the bowl with plastic wrap.

 

This gorgeous Seafood Pasta Salad is as special as it gets. It’s chock full of crab, shrimp, or lobster meat, whatever you crave—plus tender vegetables and a light vinaigrette that’s perfect for summer barbecues.
5 from 3 votes
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Seafood Pasta Salad Recipe

This gorgeous Seafood Pasta Salad is as special as it gets. It’s chock full of crab, shrimp, or lobster meat, whatever you crave—plus tender vegetables and a light vinaigrette that’s perfect for summer barbecues.

Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword pasta, seafood
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 373 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked small pasta macaroni, rotini, small shells, etc.
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 (8 or 10 ounce) package grape tomatoes halved lengthwise
  • ½ cup red bell pepper diced
  • ½ cup scallions sliced
  • 1 ½ cups chopped crab, shrimp, and/or lobster

Instructions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water and 1 T. salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions for firm pasta (1 minute pasta al dente, usually 8 to 12 minutes depending on the exact noodle). Drain well and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with cold water and ice. Blanch the broccoli quickly until bright green and tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, salad dressing, and Parmesan cheese. Stir in pasta, tomatoes, bell pepper, and scallions. Carefully fold in crab and stir until evenly coated. Chill until serving and refrigerate any leftovers.

 

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10 comments


  1. I love seafood, so this pasta salad is calling my name. I’d love to serve it as a tasty side dish for BBQ.

  2. “1 uncooked small pasta (macaroni, rotini, small shells, etc.)”

    My understanding is that this means 1 package of uncooked small pasta. How many grams or ounces would you say this equals to? The grocery stores in my city carry different sized packages of pasta, so stating this recipe requires “1 package small pasta” is unfortunately not specific enough for me :( Sorry to be a bother. I don’t know if this happens in different areas or if it’s just my country

    • Angela, I am so sorry. YOU are not a bother. My recipe has a typo. I am so sorry! My instructions would not be clear to anyone, ever, no matter where they lived. It is supposed to be one pound of small pasta, but I cut out the pound part. And one pound is 453.592 grams. Or thereabouts. :) Thank you for finding this mistake so I can correct it, and I’m sorry again. Take care and if you need anything else just let me know! Sorry!!!


  3. Made this yesterday and was delicious!! I do like a little zing so added 1 1/2 tsp. of Salad Supreme!!! Awesome!


  4. I love all the recipes y’all have, so good.

  5. Hi Meggan, I am excited to try this recipe for a picnic with my fiancé. Any recommendations on what dishes/drinks would pair nicely with it? Thanks for your suggestions in advance!

    • Hi Baylin! I LOVE this salad, I hope you do too. I love it with sandwiches (especially chicken salad on croissants, or ham and cheese croissant sandwiches with mayo, lettuce, and tomato), fresh fruit, a bag of Lay’s potato chips. Feel free to be more upscale than that, ha ha! For drinks, any kind of sangria (if that’s your thing) or a lovely Arnold Palmer. Those are all my favorites! If you need a chicken salad recipe, or a sangria recipe, just let me know! I hope you guys have fun. :D

    • Thanks, Meggan! One last question :) Is the Italian salad dressing dry or wet?

  6. Hello, I wanted to know if you would post the recipe to chicken and grape salad. I am not a cook and have no idea how to make this. This is the only site that I found that has actual recipes. For this I thank you. :}
    .

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