Do you love seafood pasta salads? Then this easy shrimp macaroni salad made with a zesty and creamy lemon dill dressing is perfect for you. A great side made quick and easy, or eat it as a fresh and cold main meal. Add it to any summer party or family gathering for a splash of color and flavor.
Why you’ll love this seafood pasta salad
- Protein-rich shrimp pasta salad with a creamy lemon dill dressing
- Quick and easy salad made with simple ingredients
- Perfect for meal-prep
- Seafood version of the classic macaroni salad
- Shrimps – For this recipe use thawed or fresh shrimp, deveined and tailed. I like to use the small, mini, baby shrimp as it mixes well with the pasta.
- Macaroni – Cook and cool the tender pasta before making this recipe. You can even make the elbow macaroni a few hours in advance. Any small pasta shape will work.
- Red onion – Mild and vibrant red onion is the best variety of onion for its great taste. Alternatively, you can use shallots or green onions. Dice into small pieces.
- Celery – Adds a great crunch and flavor, while not overpowering the other ingredients. You can also add celery seed for some extra flavor.
- Red pepper – This color of bell pepper adds a great taste and color to the salad. You can also use orange, yellow, or green bell pepper.
- Cucumber – A great summer vegetable that adds a tasty crunch and freshness to any salad.
- Lemon – Make sure to juice and zest the lemon for a full lemon flavor. Though not as delicious as fresh lemon, you can also use store-bought lemon juice. You can use white wine vinegar instead of lemon juice.
- Mayonnaise – Full-fat, or reduced-fat mayonnaise both work for this recipe. You can even use the olive oil variety. Stretch it with some Greek yogurt or sour cream for a lighter taste. You can also use homemade mayo.
- Dill – Fresh chopped dill adds a distinct flavor to the dressing that works well with seafood. You can also use fresh parsley or chives.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive works best to prepare the garlic shrimp.
- Garlic – Gives the shrimp extra flavor. I suggest using fresh minced garlic.
- Salt & pepper – Used to round out the flavors of the dish.
How to make shrimp macaroni salad
- In a skillet over medium heat the olive oil and cook the shrimp with the garlic, black pepper, and salt. Cook until the shrimps turn pink.
- Combine the lemon dill dressing ingredients in a small bowl including chopped dill, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined.
- Cook the macaroni and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Combine the cooled macaroni pasta, sliced celery ribs, finely diced red onion, diced red bell pepper, and cucumber in a large bowl.
- Add the cooked and cooled garlic shrimp to the macaroni salad. Pour the lemon dill dressing over the salad and toss gently.
- Chill for one hour, toss, and garnish with extra dill before serving for an extra burst of flavor and color.
- Use small shrimp: For a more even balance of pasta to shrimp ratio, use the smaller size shrimp. Cut larger shrimp into bite-sized pieces.
- Zest the lemon: Zesting the lemon adds an extra lemon flavor that works well with shrimp recipes while brightening up your creamy dressing.
- Make ahead: Make this creamy prawn pasta salad ahead of time and cover it with plastic wrap to let the flavors mingle. Toss with a little more dressing right before serving to enhance the flavor.
This shrimp pasta salad recipe is perfect for serving at parties, potlucks, or large family gatherings. It’s easy to make in large batches, and it can be made ahead of time. Just give it a good stir before serving if the dressing has settled. Add a little pickle juice if it has become too dry. Garnish with extra dill.
Tuna pasta salad: Substitute canned tuna for the shrimp to make a tuna pasta salad.
Add spice: Add a little extra spice to this shrimp noodle salad by adding cajun shrimp instead. You can also add some hot sauce such as siracha to the shrimp salad.
Lemon vinaigrette: Use lemon vinaigrette or lemon pesto instead of mayonnaise for a less creamy salad.
Grilled pineapple: Make this cold shrimp pasta salad a tropical salad by adding chopped grilled pineapple.
Chorizo: You’ll love this surf and turf version by adding cooked chorizo slices. Make sure to cool them before tossing them with the macaroni, shrimp, and vegetable ingredients.
Shrimp macaroni salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Be sure to keep it chilled to maintain freshness.
Yes, you can customize the pasta used in your shrimp macaroni salad. While macaroni is a classic choice, you can also use penne, bowtie, or any pasta shape you prefer. Just be sure to cook it according to the package instructions and allow it to cool before mixing it with the other ingredients.
Yes, you can use pre-cooked shrimp. Just make sure to fully thaw them before adding them to the salad.
Shrimp Macaroni Salad
- 1 pound small shrimp deveined, tailed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Lemon Dill Dressing
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup mayonnaise plain
- 2 tbsp lemon juice juice of one large lemon
- 1 tsp lemon zest zest of one large lemon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 8 oz dry macaroni pasta
- 1 celery rib sliced, 1/2 cup
- 1/2 red onion finely chopped, 1/4 cup
- 1 red bell pepper diced, 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cucumber diced, 1/2 cup
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add shrimp, salt, and black pepper. Cook until the shrimp turns pink and opaque, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside.1 pound small shrimp, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper
- In a small bowl, combine chopped dill, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Adjust seasoning to taste.1 tbsp chopped fresh dill, 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper
- Cook the macaroni al dente according to the package directions and rinse it with cold water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled macaroni pasta, sliced celery ribs, finely diced red onion, diced red bell pepper, and cucumber.8 oz dry macaroni pasta, 1 celery rib, 1/2 red onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1/2 cucumber
- Add the cooked garlic shrimp to the macaroni salad after they have cooled slightly. Pour the lemon dill dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat everything evenly. Refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Once chilled, give the salad a final toss. Garnish with extra dill before serving for an extra burst of flavor and color.