Take your salad game up a notch with our mouthwatering shrimp macaroni salad. It's creamy, zesty, and packed with plump seafood for an amazing taste sensation.
Whether planning a picnic, potluck, or simply craving a refreshing summer side dish, this shrimp pasta salad recipe is sure to please. Easy to make and loved by both kids and adults alike, this shrimp macaroni salad provides a satisfying meal option that can be enjoyed any time of the year.
Reasons to Love this Recipe
- Delightful texture. The firmness of the shrimp contrasts perfectly with the softness of the macaroni, creating a satisfying bite in every mouthful.
- Protein-packed twist. While classic macaroni salad is typically made with just vegetables and mayonnaise, adding shrimp adds more protein to the dish.
- Mouthwatering taste sensation. The sweetness of the shrimp pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the mayo and the tanginess of any added dressings or seasonings.
- Versatile main course or side dish. You can serve macaroni salad with shrimp as a main course for lunch or dinner. It's also an excellent choice as a side dish alongside grilled meats.
You'll need a few simple ingredients to make the easy shrimp salad.
Here's what you'll need to make the recipe:
- shrimp (large or small shrimp, depending on preference)
- dry elbow macaroni
- red onion
- sweet pickle relish
- garlic powder
- dill weed
- salt and pepper
- lemon juice
- light brown sugar
Scroll down to the recipe card for quantities used.
Ready to make this recipe? Start by cooking dry macaroni in salted boiling water. Boil until macaroni is al dente. Drain aside.
In a small saucepan, add shrimp once water is boiling. Cook shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp turns pink/orange and opaque. Do not overcook. Drain.
Immediately transfer shrimp in a bowl with ice cold water for about 5 minutes to stop shrimp from further cooking. Then transfer to a plate, pat dry. Set aside.
In a shallow large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, lemon juice, and light brown sugar. Mix well.
Add cooked macaroni and shrimp to the dressing.
Season with kosher salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and dill weed. Then add red onion, carrot, celery, and sweet pickle relish.
Gently toss until ingredients are well-coated. Chill before serving for at least an hour or two.
Hint: If using frozen shrimp, be sure to thaw them first in water or the refrigerator then drain and rinse. Cook the shrimp just until they turn pink and opaque. Overcooking shrimp can make them tough and rubbery, so be sure to keep a close eye on them while cooking. As soon as they lose their translucency and become pink, remove them from the heat and cool them down quickly in an ice bath.
Want to change up the salad to make it more unique? Here are some easy ways to vary the recipe.
- Extra creamy and nutritious - add some diced avocado for an added creamy texture and healthy fat.
- Spicy - add a dash of hot sauce or sprinkle some chili flakes into the dressing mixture.
- Fun twist - change the shape of the pasta do something different like Bowtie, rotini, or even festive shapes.
You can even add a blend of ocean delights and make a seafood pasta salad.
Top tip: Chill before serving. You may want to prepare it in advance and refrigerate it overnight. If you feel it needs more dressing after it has been refrigerated, simply add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, one tablespoon at a time.
- Properly prepare the shrimp. As mentioned earlier, cook the shrimp just until they turn pink and opaque. Avoid overcooking, which can make them tough. Also, remove the tails and devein the shrimp before adding them to the salad.
- Avoid overcooking pasta. Cook the macaroni to al dente, which means it should be tender but still have a slight bite to it. Overcooked pasta can turn mushy in the salad.
- Season to taste. Adjust salt, pepper, and any additional herbs or spices to your liking.
- Don't overdo dressing. Start with a smaller amount of dressing and add more as needed. Adding more dressing is easier than fixing an overly soggy salad.
- Chill before serving. Allow the completed salad to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This gives the flavors a chance to meld together.
For a simple presentation, serve the salad on a bed of lettuce. The vibrant green color of the lettuce creates a visually appealing backdrop for the tender pasta and delicious seafood.
It's also an excellent option for packed lunches or picnics. Its convenience factor makes it easy to transport and enjoy on-the-go.
Transfer the salad into an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the salad promptly. Consuming the salad within four days is recommended to ensure its quality and safety.
Want more downsized salad recipes? Take a look at these dishes too:
- Broccoli slaw is the perfect dish for summer potlucks.
- Berry salad is loaded with strawberries and blueberries.
- Red potato salad with bacon is a delicious change from the classic recipe.
- Radish salad is inspired by a traditional Polish recipe.
- Green bean and tomato salad combines two tasty veggies.
Shrimp Macaroni Salad
- ½ pound large shrimp shelled and deveined
- 1 cup dry macaroni
- 1 small red onion finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 1 small carrot finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 1 rib celery finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dill weed
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ½ teaspoon light brown sugar
- Cook dry macaroni in salted boiling water. Boil until macaroni is al dente. Drain aside.
- In a small saucepan, add shrimp once water is boiling. Cook shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp turns pink/orange and opaque. Do not overcook. Drain.
- Immediately transfer shrimp in a bowl with ice cold water for about 5 minutes to stop shrimp from further cooking. Then transfer to a plate, pat dry. Set aside.
- In a large shallow bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, and light brown sugar. Mix well.
- Assemble the salad. Add cooked macaroni and shrimp. Season with kosher salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and dill weed. Then add red onion, carrot, celery, and sweet pickle relish. Gently toss until ingredients are well-coated.
- Chill before serving for at least an hour or two.