Classic Shrimp Macaroni Salad Recipe

by heidi on June 4, 2013

Shrimp Macaroni Salad |

Isn’t it funny how so many favorite recipes come from the kitchens of cooks who don’t consider themselves anything other than average? They aren’t culinary trained, they haven’t worked behind the line at fine restaurants and have never fathomed the thought of authoring a cookbook. Or even a food bloggity blog.

But those cooks, they all have at least one recipe they can rock in the kitchen.

That’s the secret to this Shrimp Macaroni Recipe. Years of experience and good, old fashioned home cooking.

Shrimp Macaroni Salad |

Shrimp Macaroni Salad |

This recipe is from a childhood neighbor, Mrs. Richardson, who has lived next door to my parents for the past 40+ years. She gave my mom this recipe several years ago (how many? I have no idea) and besides her Homemade Fudge and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies it is one of the very, very favorite things that comes out of my mama’s kitchen.

We culminated my Smudge’s birthday this past weekend with a family party—because who gives better presents than family members who’ve been bribed with the promise of a delicious dinner?

While the menu was summertime-Vietnamese-centric (recipes coming soon) when my mom asked what she could bring to the party, I didn’t hesitate when I pleaded for her Shrimp Macaroni Salad. It may have stepped outside the bounds of our theme, but it absolutely did. not. matter.

This recipe isn’t thick and gloppy with mayo. The binder is definitely thinner, more like a salad dressing that lightly coats the shells creating perfect little pockets to catch the tiny chunks of pickle, egg and celery for a full spectrum ingredient showcase with each bite.

Sometimes you just have to go back home to find the basics of what you’re looking for. I’m so glad I get to share this one with you.

Classic Shrimp Macaroni Salad

Classic Shrimp Macaroni Salad


3 cups uncooked medium shell pasta
1 pound bay salad shrimp
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
8-10 sweet pickles, chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
6-8 tablespoons of pickle juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the macaroni shells according to the package directions, drain and let cool. Add the pasta to a large bowl with the bay salad shrimp, celery, green onions, pickles, and boiled eggs. Add the mayonnaise to a small bowl and thin with the pickle juice a few tablespoons at a time or to taste. Dress the macaroni with the mayo dressing and season if desired with kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Make the salad ahead of time and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 1 day before serving.

While there are plenty of favorite classic macaroni salads—and even some with a punched up twist like my Macaroni Salad with Smoked Mozzarella and Proscuitto—these are a few more favorites I discovered from some of the web’s foodie bloggers.

Macaroni Salad |

Adrianna reminisces about her summertime favorite meal, now adapted with a little Hawaiian punch: plenty of crunch thanks to chopped fresh veggies and a slather of mayo dressing makes the base of Cozy Kitchen’s Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.

Macaroni Salad

A little protein (tuna) and something green (peas) make up Joy’s rendition of a lighter version in Little B Cooks’ Macaroni Salad.

Salmon Macaroni Salad

Elbow noodles plus a riff on the more common addition of tuna spruces up Elise’s Salmon Macaroni Salad by Simply Recipes.

Macaroni Salad

Tracy gives a grown up taste twist to Tracy Carolyn’s Macaroni Salad thanks to the addition of greens: arugula, apple and green onions.

BLT macaroni salad

Gina has a way with recipes, and Skinny Taste’s BLT Macaroni Salad is just one more of her recipe ringers perfect for any summer get together.

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Posted in: meat and seafood,noodles, rice and grains,recipes,salads and sides

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

janet June 4, 2013 at 5:15 am

This blog is awesome! I love it!

This quote had me saying amen: “Sometimes you just have to go back home to find the basics of what you’re looking for.” It struck me that this could relate not only to food but truly everything.

Thanks :)


Tieghan June 4, 2013 at 6:08 am

Shrimp Macaroni salad! That sounds awesome and I love that is is not loaded with mayo since I really don’t like the stuff! This looks like the perfect summertime salad! Hope Smudge had a great Birthday!


Gerry @ Foodness Gracious June 4, 2013 at 7:39 am

Looks fresh and ready for summa time!!


Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon June 4, 2013 at 7:45 am

Sometimes classic is best! Love this recipe and your photos!


heidi June 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Couldn’t agree more :) and mom knows best


Michelle June 4, 2013 at 8:36 am

This was so delicious – and I thought it went great with the Asian theme! In Korea, it’s very common to eat macaroni salad as a “pan chan” or side dish :)


Liz June 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

Nice salads – thank you!


Sylvia @ June 4, 2013 at 10:10 am

This dish is so pretty! It looks tasty too :)


nessa June 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Home cooking can be just as good as fancy shmancy stuff :)


Kalyn June 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I had to see what your mom’s secret was, and I love the idea of dill pickles in shrimp salad. Also my fave in tuna macaroni salad, but I hadn’t tried it with shrimp.


heidi June 4, 2013 at 5:34 pm

The pickle juice is the kicker, and the pucker power. I just love this recipe but will need to check yours out!


Barbara | Creative Culinary June 5, 2013 at 8:04 am

I’ve been blessed to have always been surrounded by those very cooks you mention; although I’ve never thought of them as average by any means. They are just quite simply satisfied with preparing foods for their friends and family and we’ve been blessed for sure. Some of the best dishes I’ve ever had did not come from a restaurant or a food blog; they came from a little card that showed by the splatters on it’s face just how loved that recipe has been!

I just posted one of those old fashioned dishes this week; updated a bit for my tastes but it’s been around forever and I found it in a 1988 compilation of recipes from a small women’s church group…those are the BEST ever and this dish could very well be sitting in there amongst the salads; sometimes older really is better! :)


Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking June 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

This looks SO delicious, Heidi! I love how incredibly easy it is to make, too!


patti June 6, 2013 at 10:46 pm

What a great dinner, special family and friends and of course the adorable birthday girl.
I really love this salad, and it is so easy to make. I’m such a pickle lover and the sweet pickles give this a great flavor. Thank goodness for friends who share. Have fun at the conference.


Stacey | Kitchen Serendipity May 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Your mom’s recipe is a keeper for sure and I can’t wait to make it. Thanks for sharing it!


Wendy May 15, 2014 at 8:18 am

This looks yummy! I did have a couple of questions. The bay salad shrimp, is that just small shrimp or specific thing I am not familiar with? How do you cook the shrimp? As for the pickle juice, is that a specific type of pickle juice, dill or sweet relish juice? Thanks and can’t wait to make this!


heidi May 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm

The shrimp are bought at your local fish market or grocery seafood counter and come pre-cooked and no shells. I usually ask for the frozen variety so I know they haven’t been sitting for too long. I use bay shrimp or the larger salad shrimp, and have found Whole Foods Market to be a good source. The plumper the better. For the pickle juice I use sweet or kosher pickles, but it’s really your preference. Whatever pickles you have on hand work just great!


shawn July 18, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Sounds delish. How many does this serve?


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