This Easy Seafood Pasta Salad with Shrimp and Crab is served creamy and loaded with vegetables and homemade ranch seasoning for ultimate flavor. This old-fashioned meal is great for summer or any time and can be served as a side dish, a main course, or as a cold lunch.
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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.
What Type of Shrimp to Use
The best shrimp for salads are typically cooked, as they are more flavorful and have a firmer texture. The common raw shrimp you will find in stores include tiger shrimp, jumbo shrimp, and wild-caught shrimp.
For taste, wild-caught shrimp are generally considered to be the best option as they have a more flavorful and firmer texture compared to farm-raised shrimp. Wild-caught shrimp are shrimp that are caught in their natural habitat in the ocean or other bodies of water, as opposed to being farmed or raised in captivity.
Farm-raised shrimp are raised in captivity on a shrimp farm. These farms can be located in ponds or in tanks on land. The shrimp are typically fed a diet of fishmeal, soy, and other ingredients, and are sometimes given antibiotics or other chemicals to prevent disease. Those chemicals are then passed into the food you eat.
Lump Real Crab Meat or Imitation Crab
Imitation crab is also known as surimi. It’s a seafood product that is made from ground pollock fish and mixed with starch, egg whites, and flavorings. The mixture is then shaped and dyed to have the same color as real crab meat.
Imitation crabmeat is a processed food and contains preservatives, artificial colors, and other ingredients. Also, it is usually high in sodium and low in nutrients. Be sure to check your labels and read the ingredients if you plan to use it.
Real crab meat is meat that is taken from the body of a crab. It comes from blue crab, king crab, or Dungeness crab. Real crab meat can be sold as whole cooked crab or as chunks or pieces of meat. I like to grab jumbo, lump crab. You can find it at most grocers in the refrigerated section of the store. Costco sells it in 16oz bulk. You can also find crab claw meat. Check out our post, What is Lump Crab Meat.
Real crabmeat has a delicate, sweet flavor and a tender, moist texture. It is considered a delicacy and is low in fat and high in protein.
Vegetables and Additional Substitution Ideas
- Shredded Cheese
- Feta or Gorgonzola Cheese
- Chopped Cauliflower
- Chopped Dill Pickles
- Sweet Pickle Relish
- Red Peppers
- Green Peppers
- Creole Seasoning
- Cajun Seasoning
- Homemade BBQ Seasoning
How to Substitute Mayo
You can substitute it for Greek yogurt or sour cream.
How to Make Seafood Salad with Shrimp and Crab
Full detailed instructions are below in the recipe card.
- Cook the pasta in accordance with the package instructions.
- Rinse the pasta in cold water and pat dry.
- Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and Old Bay Seasoning.
- Cook the shrimp.
- Add the pasta to your serving dish along with the cooked shrimp and remaining ingredients.
Can You Omit the Cheese?
How Long it Can 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.
Can You Make it Ahead/How Long it Will Last in the Fridge
Store the salad in the fridge (tightly covered) for up to 3-4 days. When the salad sits in the fridge overnight (or for several hours), the pasta will absorb a lot of the moisture and it isn’t as creamy.
If you plan to make this ahead you will likely need to refresh the salad with a little mayo or Greek yogurt (or sour cream) immediately before serving.
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.
Serve With These Dishes
More Seafood Recipes
Seafood Pasta Salad with Shrimp and Crab
- 12 oz rotini pasta
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups mayo, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream Start with 1 cup and add additional if needed to get the dish creamier.
- 12 oz raw shrimp peeled and deveined
- 8 oz crab meat
- 2-3 cups fresh or steamed broccoli
- 1 cup chopped cucumbers
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes Sliced in half. You can use any tomatoes.
- 1/4 cup sliced olives
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning Divided into 2, 1/2 teaspoon portions.
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Cook the rotini in accordance with the package instructions.
- Rinse the rotini in cold water and pat dry.
- Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. (Add oil to the pan if you aren't using a non-stick pan). Add the shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon of the Old Bay Seasoning.
- Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side until it's translucent and pink.
- Remove the shrimp from the pan and set it aside. You can dice it into 1 inch chunks if desired.
- Add the mayo, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (whatever you chose) to your serving dish along with 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, ranch seasoning, ande lemon juice. Stir.
- Add the rotini, cooked shrimp, and remaining ingredients. Taste repeatedly and adjust the seasoning if necessary. I like to add additional lemon juice here when necessary.
- Chill for a minimum of 1 hour. 2-3 hours is optimal.
- Make this pasta salad yours! Load it up with the vegetables that you like.
- I’ve always made this dish for a crowd. Feel free to cut the recipe in half. You can cut the recipe in half by using half of the ingredients noted.
- You can double the recipe by using double the ingredients.
- If you use a ranch seasoning packet if you wish, start with 3 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 if you wish to substitute mayo, Greek yogurt, or sour cream
- Add additional seasoning to suit your taste if necessary.