This shrimp pasta salad recipe has a creamy and zesty lemon dill dressing and is loaded with plump shrimp. It's the perfect summer dish for seafood lovers!
Why you'll love it
I enjoy having seafood as often as I can, and this shrimp pasta salad is one of my favorite ways to eat it. We've got juicy bite-sized pieces of shrimp paired with tender pasta and an irresistible homemade dill dressing. Does it get any better?
It's quick and easy to transport, so you'll definitely want to take it along to your next BBQ, potluck, family reunion, or cookout all season long! It's a simple way to elevate pasta salad without a bunch of effort, and it's sure to be memorable at your next gathering.
What you'll need and why
For the salad
- Pasta - fusilli or rotini is my choice for this dish. You can change up the pasta shape, but if you're going for pasta that's a lot smaller (like macaroni), you may want to cut it down from the 3 cups, or you may have too much.
- Shrimp - we're boiling up thawed and peeled shrimp. To thaw, simply run them under cool water.
- Celery - for an irresistible crunch
- Onion - red onions are fantastic for salads because of their milder flavor
- Smoked paprika - our secret ingredient to take the flavor over the top. The gentle smoky flavor is wonderful!
For the dressing
- Mayo - the creamy base. I like Hellmann's, but you can use any variety.
- Dijon mustard - it's a trick for sauces and dressings. You don't taste the mustard itself; it just adds a great savory depth!
- Lemon - using both freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest adds brightness and acidity
- Garlic powder - I can't resist adding a little garlicky goodness
- Fresh dill - it's a tried and true pairing with seafood and the star of the dressing
- Olive oil - for richness
Can I make it ahead of time?
- You sure can! As long as it's refrigerated right after making it, this salad will keep in the fridge for several hours before your gathering. The flavors will intensify and become even more tasty over time, in fact.
How to make shrimp pasta salad
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cook the pasta, and meanwhile, boil a separate pot of water for the shrimp. Boil the shrimp for 2-3 minutes until they turn pink and are cooked through. Drain them, and then place them into a bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes to stop them from cooking further.
Pat them dry and cut them into smaller pieces if desired. Stir the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, and prep the celery and onion.
Toss everything together in a large salad bowl. Season with smoked paprika and salt & pepper as needed. This salad is best well chilled, so place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving!
- If you're serving this at an outdoor summer event, place the bowl of pasta salad in a larger bowl with an ice water bath to keep it cold, or store it in a cooler.
- I used raw 31-40/pound size shrimp, but feel free to use larger or smaller. I did cut them into smaller pieces to make it easier to eat overall, but that's totally up to you.
- Most of the time I recommend cooking shrimp yourself vs. buying the already cooked kind, especially if they're frozen. They will generally taste better that way. If you do have access to good-quality cooked shrimp, you can definitely use those as a shortcut, however.
- I used my handy Microplane zester/grater to zest the lemon.
Substitutions and variations
- You could sprinkle some Old Bay seasoning on top instead of or in addition to the smoked paprika.
- If you're going to eat the salad right away, try adding in some chopped avocado and/or cucumber for extra freshness.
- Feel free to add in any other fresh veggies you have on hand. A chopped bell pepper or peas would be great as well!
- A dash or two of hot sauce would work well in the dressing for a little kick.
What to serve with this recipe
Leftovers and storage
- For food safety reasons, be very careful about leaving this pasta salad out for too long. If it has been sitting outside, on the counter, etc. for a while, I recommend eating it right away or discarding the rest.
- Otherwise, leftovers will last for 2-3 days in the fridge in a covered container just fine. It will not work to freeze this (or any) pasta salad.
Questions about this delicious summer side dish? Write me a comment below!
Shrimp Pasta Salad
- 3 cups uncooked fusilli pasta
- 1 pound shrimp (31-40/pound size) thawed & peeled
- 2 sticks celery chopped small
- 2 tablespoons red onion chopped small
- Smoked paprika optional, to taste
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook it al dente according to package directions, then once it's done, drain it and rinse with cool water. Let it drain thoroughly before adding it to a large salad bowl.
- Meanwhile, prep the shrimp (run under cool water to thaw if they're frozen, peel them, remove the tails, and devein if needed). Boil a pot of water to cook them, and fill a medium-sized bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Once the water is boiling, add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the shrimp and add them to the ice bath to stop them from cooking further. Let them cool in there for a few minutes prior to draining them and patting them dry with paper towel. If desired, cut them into smaller pieces before adding them to the salad bowl.
- Prep the remaining ingredients (celery and onion), then add them to the salad bowl.
- Add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and combine until smooth.
- Add the dressing to the pasta salad and then toss to combine. Season with salt & pepper as needed. Shrimp can be quite salty, but it's quite a lot of pasta in here, so it's important to season it well for good flavor.
- If desired, sprinkle a bit of smoked paprika over top.
- I recommend chilling this salad before serving (cover the bowl tightly). It's best very cold.
- Serves 4 as an entree and more as a side (6-8).
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.