A simple mayonnaise dressing lightly coats the classic ingredients of homemade macaroni salad, fancied up with bay shrimp for an easy side dish made perfect for every barbecue, picnic, or potluck.
Updated: This recipe one of my main go-tos for nearly every summer BBQ dinner I host or bring something to. So after re-visiting this recipe so many times this summer and looking at the old photos, I knew it needed a refresh. I hope you’ll enjoy the new look of one of my favorite salads, too.
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 Salad Recipe. Years of experience and good, old-fashioned, home cooking.
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 next to 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.
About the Recipe
The ingredient that sets this recipe apart from other macaroni salads are juicy bay shrimp added to the mix. But be forewarned, not all bay shrimp are created equal. Be sure to shop for as large a bay shrimp as you can find, shrimp that are plump and juicy and if shopping from the freezer aisle, be sure to check for freezer burn.
There’s no need to cook these shrimp before adding to the recipe. Simply run the frozen shrimp under cool water in a colander until they’ve defrosted. Or, if you have time and a few hours before making, place them in a bowl in the fridge to defrost slowly.
I use shell pasta to make this macaroni salad because they create perfect little pockets to catch the tiny chunks of pickle, egg and celery for a full spectrum ingredient showcase with each bite. You could certainly use any other short tube pasta to your liking, such as ditalini or a classic elbow macaroni.
This recipe isn’t thick and gloppy with mayo. The binder is definitely thinner, more like a salad dressing that lightly coats the shells. Like in my Classic Macaroni Salad recipe, the mayonnaise is thinned with pickle juice, adding a bit of spunk and tartness that totally makes this salad delicious.
Chopped celery give this salad it’s crunch and sweet pickles make every bite a bit tangy, with bursts of flavor only sweet pickles can deliver. I’d pick every one out individually if I could, I love the flavor that much.
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.
Recipe Ideas to Serve with Shrimp Macaroni Salad
Think barbecues, picnics, and even slow cooked short ribs. Here are a few mains to serve along with this classic side.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Classic Shrimp Macaroni Salad
- 3 cups uncooked medium shell pasta or other small pastas such as ditalini or elbow macaroni
- 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 or more to your taste
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the macaroni shells according to the package directions, rinse under cold water, drain and let cool. Add the pasta to a large bowl with the bay salad shrimp, celery, green onions, pickles, and chopped eggs. Mix the mayonnaise to a small bowl with the pickle juice and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to your liking. Add more pickle juice if desired. Pour the dressing over the macaroni and toss lightly to coat. Season with more kosher salt and pepper if desired.
Make the salad ahead of time and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 1 day before serving.
More Macaroni Salad Recipes to Love
While there are plenty of favorite classic macaroni salads out there—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.
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.
A little protein (tuna) and something green (peas) make up Joy’s rendition of a lighter version in Little B Cooks’ Macaroni Salad.
Elbow noodles plus a riff on the more common addition of tuna spruces up Elise’s Salmon Macaroni Salad by Simply Recipes.
Tracy gives a grown up taste twist to Tracy Carolyn’s Macaroni Salad thanks to the addition of greens: arugula, apple and green onions.
Gina has a way with recipes, and Skinnytaste’s BLT Macaroni Salad is just one more of her recipe ringers perfect for any summer get together.
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