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Salmon Pasta Salad

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This Salmon Pasta Salad recipe combines the succulence of perfectly cooked salmon with the goodness of pasta, creating a refreshing and satisfying salad perfect for any occasion. The combination of flaky salmon, vibrant vegetables, and creamy mayo or sour cream will leave your taste buds singing.

salmon pasta salad with broccoli and tomatoes in a white bowl
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Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Health Benefits: Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality proteins, and various essential nutrients. Switching it up and using salmon adds nutritional value to the dish, making it a healthier meal option.
  • Flavor: The combination of salmon, pasta, and fresh vegetables creates a flavorful dish. Salmon adds a distinctive element to the salad.
  • Versatility: This is a meal that can be enjoyed in various settings. It works well as a light lunch, a refreshing dinner option, or as part of a picnic or potluck spread.
  • Convenience: This is an easy meal to prep and it doesn’t take long to make.
  • Balanced Meal: The combination of protein from the salmon, carbohydrates from the pasta, and a variety of vegetables provides a well-balanced meal. You may not need or want to pair it with anything.

Key Ingredients

  • Salmon
  • Pasta
  • Ranch Seasoning (Optional)
  • Mayo, Sour Cream, or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Vegetables
broccoli, olives, tomatoes, and mayo in separate glass bowls
homemade ranch seasoning in a white bowl

What Type of Pasta to Use

The best pasta for pasta salad is usually short and can hold its shape and texture when mixed with other ingredients. Here are some options:

  • Rotini: This is what I use. It’s spiral-shaped and great for holding onto mayo and dressings.
  • Penne: Tube-shaped
  • Farfalle: Bow-tie shaped
  • Orzo: Rice-shaped pasta
  • Fusilli: Corkscrew shaped (Trader Joe’s has a great one!)

When cooking pasta for pasta salad, it’s important to follow the instructions on the package for how to cook it al dente. This will ensure the pasta doesn’t become mushy when it’s mixed with other ingredients.

cooked rotini pasta in a glass bowl

What Type of Salmon to Use

The best type to use is a matter of preference. You can even use store-bought smoked salmon if you wish. That way you don’t have to cook anything and you can just toss it in.

  • Wild and/or Sockeye: Known for its deep red color and rich, oily flavor. It is considered one of the most flavorful types of salmon.
  • Atlantic: It is farm-raised and has a milder flavor than wild-caught salmon.
  • Pink: It is the smallest of the Pacific salmon and has a mild, delicate flavor.

Ultimately, the best type of fresh salmon to use will depend on your taste preferences.

Salmon that is sourced from the Atlantic is usually farmed. Farmed means antibiotics and food coloring (to give it a pink color).

cooked salmon in a bamboo bowl

How to Cook the Salmon

You can bake, pan sear, air fry, or grill the salmon using any of my recipes:

How to Tell When Salmon is Perfectly Cooked

  • Temperature: Use a meat thermometer and ensure the fish has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the fish.
  • Appearance and Touch: Perfectly cooked salmon will have a light pink color and will be opaque throughout. The flesh will also start to flake when pressed with a fork.
  • It’s important to note that salmon can be cooked to varying degrees of doneness, some people prefer it cooked through while others prefer it medium-rare at 135 degrees. Decide what works for you.
salmon pasta salad with broccoli, mayo, ranch seasoning, and tomatoes in a glass bowl

How to Make Salmon Pasta Salad

Full detailed instructions are below in the recipe card.

  1. Air fry, bake, sear, or grill the salmon.
  2. Cook the pasta in accordance with the package instructions.
  3. Add mayo, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (whatever you chose) to your serving dish along ranch seasoning.
  4. Add the cooked pasta, cooked salmon, and remaining ingredients. Taste repeatedly and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Chill for an 1-2 hours if desired or serve immediately.
salmon pasta salad with broccoli and tomatoes in a white bowl

Vegetables and Additional Substitution Ideas

How to Substitute Mayo

The easiest way to substitute mayo is to swap plain Greek yogurt or sour cream because it’s a 1:1 switch. Here are some options.

  • Greek Yogurt: It has a similar creamy texture and adds a tangy flavor. You can use plain Greek yogurt as a 1:1 replacement for mayo.
  • Sour Cream: It adds a rich and tangy flavor. Substitute it in equal proportions to mayo.
  • Avocado: Mashed avocado can provide a creamy texture and a unique flavor. Use ripe avocado and adjust the quantity to your liking.
  • Olive Oil: For a lighter option, you can use extra virgin olive oil. It won’t give the same creaminess, but it adds a delicious flavor. Consider adding a splash of lemon juice or vinegar for acidity.
  • Pesto Sauce: If you’re looking to add flavor and a different twist, consider using pesto sauce. It’s made with ingredients like basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Hummus: Hummus can be a surprising and flavorful substitute. Choose a plain or garlic-flavored hummus to add creaminess and a hint of Mediterranean flavor.
  • Mustard: Dijon or whole grain mustard can add a tangy kick to your pasta salad. Start with a small amount and adjust to your taste.
  • Yogurt-based Dressing: There are many pre-made yogurt-based dressings available in stores that can be used as a mayo substitute. Look for options with flavors that complement your pasta salad.
salmon pasta salad with broccoli and tomatoes in a white bowl

How Long Can The Salad Sit Out

It can sit out 1-2 hours. It takes about 2 hours for bacteria to start to grow to dangerous levels. In warm temperatures, that time shrinks. You can read the Food Safety Guidance from the FDA here. If you’re serving pasta salad at an event or picnic, consider keeping it chilled in an insulated cooler with ice packs to maintain a safe temperature.

Can You Make it Ahead/How Long it Will Last in the Fridge

If stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the salad can last for about 3-4 days. However, the quality will likely start to decline after the first day as the pasta and vegetables may become softer.

If you know you want to make it ahead or eat leftovers, consider keeping the mayo/dressing separate until you’re ready to serve. Toss the salad with the mayo/dressing just before eating to maintain the best texture.

Can You Freeze It?

You can freeze it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. In general, mayo, yogurt, and sour cream do not freeze well and usually develops ice crystals.

forkful of salmon pasta salad with broccoli and tomatoes

Serve With These Dishes

Old Bay Steamed Shrimp
Smoked Shrimp
Smoked Scallops
Smoked Lobster Tail
Smoked Swordfish
Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict
Smoked Ahi Tuna Steak
Smoked Crab Legs

More Salmon Recipes

Salmon Rice Bowl
Easy Salmon Bites
Cajun Salmon
Salmon Alfredo
Salmon Chowder with Corn and Potatoes

salmon pasta salad with broccoli and tomatoes in a white bowl

Salmon Pasta Salad

This Salmon Pasta Salad recipe combines the succulence of perfectly cooked salmon with the goodness of pasta, creating a refreshing and satisfying salad perfect for any occasion. The combination of flaky salmon, vibrant vegetables, and creamy mayo or sour cream will leave your taste buds singing.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
chilling 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, dinner, lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 5 servings
Calories 644 kcal

Ingredients
  

Salmon

Pasta Salad

  • 8-10 oz rotini pasta
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups mayo, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream Start with 1/2 cup and add additional if needed to get the dish creamier.
  • 2-3 cups fresh or steamed broccoli
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives

Homemade Ranch Seasoning (You can also use store-bought seasoning and season to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Drizzle olive oil all over the salmon. Sprinkle the spices throughout and rub them into the salmon. Ensure the salmon is completely covered with spices and add additional if necessary.

Air Fryer Salmon

  • Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil. Place the seasoned salmon in the air fryer basket.
  • Air fry the salmon for 10-12 minutes at 370 degrees. Mine was ready right at 10 minutes. Use a meat thermometer and test that the inside of the salmon has reached 145 degrees.
  • Cool and then flake the salmon into smaller pieces using a fork.

Baked Salmon

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Add the seasoned salmon to a piece of foil large enough to hold the salmon and to wrap and cover it.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Unwrap the salmon so it is no longer fully covered. Bake for for another 2-5 minutes. Use a meat thermometer and ensure the fish has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the fish.
  • Cool and then flake the salmon into smaller pieces using a fork.

Pan Seared Salmon

  • Place a skillet on medium-high heat with olive oil to coat and prevent sticking.
  • When the pan is hot, add the seasoned salmon to the pan with the skin side up.
  • Allow the salmon to cook for 4 minutes. Do not move the salmon after you have placed it in the skillet.
  • Monitor the sides of the salmon to determine the perfect time to flip. When the color of the side of the salmon has lightened about 3/4ths of the way up, it’s time to flip. This usually only takes 3-4 minutes.
  • Flip the salmon. I find a silicone spatula works best.
  • Cook skin side down for 4 minutes.
  • Remove the salmon from the pan. Cool and then flake the salmon into smaller pieces using a fork.

Pasta Salad

  • Cook the pasta in accordance with the package instructions.
  • Rinse the pasta in cold water and pat dry.
  • Add the mayo, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (whatever you chose) to your serving dish along ranch seasoning.
  • Add the pasta, cooked salmon, and remaining ingredients. Taste repeatedly and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Chill for an 1-2 hours if desired or serve immediately.

Notes

  • Make this pasta salad yours! Load it up with the vegetables that you like.
  • You can double the recipe by using double the ingredients.
  • If you use a ranch seasoning packet if you wish, start with 2 tablespoons.
  • If you like a wet pasta salad, then serving immediately after chilling the dish will work best for you. You may find that you need additional mayo or sour cream (Greek yogurt). Add additional to suit your taste and texture needs.
  • You can use ranch dressing or any salad dressing if you wish to substitute mayo, Greek yogurt, or sour cream
  • Add additional seasoning to suit your taste if necessary.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 644kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 27gFat: 45g
Keyword fish pasta salad, salmon pasta salad, salmon salad
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Recipe Rating




bestiptvireland

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

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Chenee

Monday 5th of February 2024

This might be my new favorite pasta salad. So much better than tuna! Loved it!

Brandi Crawford

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Yes! So glad you enjoyed it.

Lauren

Monday 5th of February 2024

I was looking for a way to use up a couple extra fillets of salmon and decided to try this pasta salad. It was very good! A new way to enjoy eating more salmon - thanks!

Brandi Crawford

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Such a great way to use it.

Sky

Monday 5th of February 2024

So flavorful and filling! Love this recipe. Thans for sharing!

Brandi Crawford

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

So glad to hear it.

Beth

Monday 5th of February 2024

Adding salmon to this classic pasta salad is such a great combo. The seasoned salmon is a perfect counterpoint to the pasta and other ingredients.

Brandi Crawford

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Such a great way to enjoy it.