A simple mayonnaise dressing lightly coats the classic ingredients of homemade shrimp pasta salad for an easy side dish made perfect for every barbecue, picnic, or potluck.
Updated: This recipe is one of my main go-to’s for nearly every summer BBQ dinner I host or bring something to. So after revisiting 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, all have at least one recipe they can rock in the kitchen.
That’s the secret to this shrimp pasta salad recipe. Years of experience and good, old-fashioned, home cooking.
This creamy pasta salad 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.
What’s in This Shrimp Pasta Salad?
The ingredient that sets this recipe apart from other macaroni salads is juicy bay shrimp added to the mix.
This shrimp pasta salad 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 gives this salad its crunch, and sweet pickles make every bite a bit tangy, with bursts of flavor only sweet pickles can deliver. I’d pick each one out individually if I could, I love the flavor that much.
Hard-boiled eggs and green onions round out this shrimp macaroni salad, making it absolutely irresistible.
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.
How to Make Shrimp Pasta Salad
Simply cook the macaroni according to package instructions, then drain and let cool. Stir in the bay salad shrimp, celery, green onions, pickles, and chopped eggs.
Then, whisk together the mayo and pickle juice. Pour the dressing over the shrimp pasta salad and toss to coat.
Although this seafood pasta salad can be eaten right away, I highly recommend letting it rest in the fridge for at least an hour to give the flavors time to come together.
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
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 classic elbow macaroni.
Can I Prep Shrimp Pasta Salad in Advance?
Yes, this creamy shrimp macaroni salad can be prepped up to 1 day before serving it.
Tips for Making Shrimp Macaroni Salad
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 them 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 them, place them in a bowl in the fridge to defrost slowly.
Add more pickle juice to the dressing, if desired. I typically use 6 to 8 tablespoons, but doctor it up as you see fit.
What 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 shrimp pasta salad:
- 30 Days of Easy Grilling Recipes to Make This Summer
- Bacon Double Cheddar Cheese Burgers with Caramelized Onion
- Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs
- Grilled BBQ Chicken and Vegetables in Foil
- Balsamic and Honey Grilled Chicken Skewers
- Grilled Pork Chops with Spicy Balsamic Grilled Peaches
- Grandma’s Baked Country Style Pork Ribs
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 Pasta 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 pickle juice , or more to your taste
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 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.
- Sweet pickle juice flavors this light and tangy dressing that gently coats the pasta and other flavors. If you love the tang of pickles, taste test before adding to the salad and add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of pickle juice to your liking.
More Pasta Salad Recipes to Love
- Macaroni Salad with Smoked Mozzarella and Proscuitto
- Greek Pasta Salad with Cucumbers and Artichoke Hearts
- BLT Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
- Italian Spaghetti Salad
- Creamy Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables
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