Best Creamy Crab Pasta Salad Recipe – A Summer Favorite

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Savor the flavors of summer with our Crab Pasta Salad recipe! Quick, easy, and delicious, it’s perfect for picnics, parties, or a light meal.

Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

Crab Pasta Salad encapsulates the very essence of summer, blending the refreshing taste of the ocean with the cheer of sunny picnics. That’s exactly what you get with my crab pasta salad recipe, a dish that will quickly become a family favorite at summer BBQs and picnics. 

What I love most about this salad is its incredible versatility. Whether you use real crab meat or prefer the convenience of imitation crabmeat, this salad caters to all tastes. It’s this adaptability, combined with a melody of flavors, that makes it not only a great make-ahead dish for your next-day summer outings but also a beloved main course or side dish that adds a touch of summer seafood flavor to any table. 

Why you’ll love this Crab Pasta Salad recipe: 

  • Perfect for summer: Ideal for picnics, BBQs, family gatherings, or a chilled summer lunch. 
  • Versatile: Can be made with real or imitation crab meat as well as fresh vegetables and herbs. 
  • Family favorite: A delicious blend of flavors that pleases the entire family. 
Ingredients for Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

Crab Pasta Salad Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 box Medium pasta shells – the perfect base that holds onto the creamy dressing like a dream. 
  • 3/4 cup Frozen peas, thawed – add a fresh pop of color and sweetness to the pasta salad. 
  • 16 oz real lump crab meat or imitation crab meat – both work beautifully, offering that sweet, delicately seafood flavor we all love. 
  • 1/2 cup each of Red onion, celery, and red bell peppers – for that necessary crunch and pop of color. 
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise – for a deliciously creamy dressing that’s hard to resist. 
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice – adds a bright, citrusy zing that elevates the entire dish. 
  • 1 packet Italian dressing seasoning mix – a quick cheat to infuse the salad with herbs and spices, though Italian salad dressing could also be a good choice. 
  • 1/2 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper – add a bold taste to the dressing elevating this pasta salad from all the rest.
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh dill or parsley – nothing like fresh herbs used in the sauce and to sprinkle over the top for that extra touch of summer. 
  • Optional extras such as chopped green onion for garnish, Dijon mustard, or Parmesan cheese – because why not customize it to your taste?
Easy Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

Cooking the Pasta to Perfection

To create the perfect crab pasta salad, let me tell you, getting your pasta just right is crucial. The goal? Achieving that al dente perfection that will hold up against the creamy dressing and the succulent crab meat. 

  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil, adding 1-2 teaspoons of salt for flavor. 
  2. Toss in your medium pasta shells, making sure there’s enough room for them to dance around. 
  3. Follow the package directions closely—usually around 7-8 minutes for al dente doneness.  Keep an eye out, as the perfect texture is what we’re after. I like to set a timer for 1-2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time and taste it at that point for doneness. 
  4. Once it’s perfectly cooked, drain the pasta and rinse with cold water or introduce it to an ice bath of cool water. This stops the cooking process and ensures your pasta retains that al dente texture, making it the ideal base for our delightful crab pasta salad. 

Preparing the Ingredients

Attention to detail is key, especially during the preparation of our ingredients. 

  • Tackling the vegetables (the red onion, celery, and bell peppers) –  I always make sure they’re chopped into small, equal-sized pieces. This little trick ensures each bite is perfectly balanced, giving you a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. 
  • Preparing the crab meat – Whether you’re opting for the luxurious touch of real crab meat or keeping it economical with imitation crabmeat, I like to chop it into larger chunks. The crab meat is the star of the show, and cutting it into larger pieces ensures that with every forkful, you get that delicious seafood flavor that makes this salad a family favorite at summer picnics and backyard BBQs. 
  • Thaw the peas – There is no need to cook the peas. Just take them out of the freezer when you start chopping the veggies, and they will be ready to add to your crab pasta salad. 

Preparing the Dressing

You’ll see lots of recipes for Crab Pasta Salad that use only mayonnaise as the dressing, but it’s so much tastier when you incorporate flavor into every component. This crab salad dressing is what makes my recipe stand out from other versions. Preparing the creamy dressing for our crab pasta salad is easier than you might think. Here’s how I make mine, and remember, this is the perfect opportunity to put your own twist on this recipe to suit your taste!

In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, Italian dressing seasoning mix, lemon juice, black pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and fresh dill.  

Stir with a spoon until everything is well combined. 

For those who love customization, here are some additional ingredients you may want to incorporate into your dressing. It’s all about making it perfectly align with your palate.

  • sour cream for a tangy kick
  • Dijon mustard for a zesty tang
  • celery salt for those who don’t like raw celery in their salad
  • garlic powder and onion powder – These are good options if you don’t have a packet of Italian dressing seasoning mix. 
Put all ingredients together and toss gently until everything is coated in the sauce

Putting the Crab Pasta Salad Together

Once the pasta has been cooked to that perfect al dente texture and cooled under a stream of cold water, it’s time to bring this delicious seafood salad to life. 

  1. In a very large bowl—trust me, you’ll appreciate the extra room—I gently combine the shell pasta with the chunks of tender crab meat, whether you’ve gone for the real deal or opted for imitation crabmeat. 
  2. Next, I add the thawed peas, crisp red onion, celery, and bright red bell pepper, all chopped into bite-sized pieces for the best texture and flavor distribution. 
  3. Now for the best summer seafood flavor, the creamy dressing is key. I pour this luscious mixture over the pasta and crab, then toss everything together gently, ensuring each shell is coated in the delicious, creamy dressing.

The magic of this dish is in the melding of flavors, creating a crowd-pleasing salad that’s as refreshing on a hot summer day as it is by the side of a backyard BBQ. 

Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

Flavor Variations – Customize Your Crab Pasta Salad

One of the best parts about making this delightful crab pasta salad is how you can customize it to suit your taste or to shake things up for your next summer BBQ. Here are some additional ingredients you might like to try in this crab pasta salad.

  • Hard-boiled eggs: They add a lovely richness that complements the crab beautifully. 
  • Dill pickles: For that crunch and tangy zip, dill pickles can be a game-changer. 
  • Parmesan cheese: Sprinkle some on top for that salty, umami kick. 
  • Bow-tie pasta: Swapping out shell pasta for bow-tie pasta gives the salad a whole new look and texture. 
  • Olives: Whether you go for green or black, olives can add a nice salty bite. 
  • Salad shrimp: Adding salad shrimp along with crab meat can amplify the seafood goodness and make your salad even more indulgent. 

Each addition brings its own unique flavor and texture, making your crab pasta salad the standout dish at summer gatherings. 

Easy Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

Storing and Serving

After you’ve combined all the lovely ingredients of our crab pasta salad, the next crucial step is ensuring it stays fresh and delicious. 

  • Scoop your salad into an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator. This little trick keeps it fresh and allows the flavors to meld beautifully, enhancing that sumptuous summer seafood flavor we all crave. Let it chill for 1-2 hours before serving so all the flavors have time to meld together. 
  • The best part? This pasta salad is a fantastic make-ahead dish. I’ve found that letting it sit overnight in the fridge does wonders, allowing every ingredient to share its flavors with its neighbors, creating an even tastier dish the next day.

Serving it chilled not only makes it a refreshing choice for those scorching hot summer days but also elevates its status as a perfect side dish or the main course that impresses at any summer cookout.  Truly, it’s the dish that keeps on giving, ensuring your backyard BBQ or summer picnic is a hit!

Easy Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

The Perfect End to a Perfect Meal

The versatility of my Crab Pasta Salad recipe makes it the perfect salad for any summer occasion, from a laid-back backyard BBQ to a luxurious beachside picnic. With every forkful of this creamy crab pasta salad, you’re transported to a place where the flavors of the sea blend harmoniously with fresh herbs, lemon juice, and the tender crunch of bell peppers. 

What truly sets this crab pasta salad apart is the flavorful dressing. Adding an Italian dressing seasoning packet, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, lemon juice, and fresh dill along with the mayonnaise elevates this pasta salad. The Old Bay Seasoning really emphasizes the seafood flavor of the entire dish. 

Great recipes, like this seafood pasta salad recipe, can bring people together, creating moments of joy and laughter that linger long after the last dish has been cleared. 

So, as we look forward to creating new summer memories, let’s share some new recipes and dishes that made us feel at home. The crab pasta salad is a celebration of summer seafood flavor, a tribute to the simple pleasures of sharing a meal.

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Easy Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

More Great Summer Recipes

Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

Best Creamy Crab Pasta Salad Recipe – A Summer Favorite

Melisha Kreppein
Savor the flavors of summer with our Crab Pasta Salad recipe! Quick, easy, and delicious, it’s perfect for picnics, parties, or a light meal.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Course Lunch, Pasta, Salad, Seafood, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 337 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box medium pasta shells
  • ¾ cup frozen peas thawed
  • 16 oz imitation crab meat chopped
  • ½ cup red onion diced small
  • ½ cup celery diced small
  • ½ cup red bell pepper diced small

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice fresh squeezed
  • 1 packet Italian dressing seasoning mix
  • ½ tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill chopped

Garnish

  • 1 green onion chopped for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Take the peas out of the freezer and allow to thaw while you're preparing the other ingredients.
  • Following the package directions, cook the pasta to al dente doneness. Rinse with cold water to cool and stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  • Chop the red onion, celery, and red bell pepper into small pieces.
  • Chop the imitation crab meat into larger bite-sized pieces.
  • Make the sauce. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, Italian dressing seasoning mix, lemon juice, black pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and fresh dill. Stir together until well mixed.
  • Combine all ingredients and the prepared sauce in a large bowl. Gently fold together until everything is mixed well and covered in the sauce.
  • Place in an airtight container and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight.

Notes

Flavor Variations

Here are some additional ingredients you might like to try in this crab pasta salad.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: They add a lovely richness that complements the crab beautifully. 
  • Dill pickles: For that crunch and tangy zip, dill pickles can be a game-changer. 
  • Parmesan cheese: Sprinkle some on top for that salty, umami kick. 
  • Bow-tie pasta: Swapping out shell pasta for bow-tie pasta gives the salad a whole new look and texture. 
  • Olives: Whether you go for green or black, olives can add a nice salty bite. 
  • Salad shrimp: Adding salad shrimp along with crab meat can amplify the seafood goodness and make your salad even more indulgent. 

Sauce Variations

Here are some additional ingredients you may want to incorporate into your dressing.
  • sour cream for a tangy kick
  • Dijon mustard for a zesty tang
  • celery salt for those who don’t like raw celery in their salad
  • garlic powder and onion powder – These are good options if you don’t have a packet of Italian dressing seasoning mix.

Nutrition

Calories: 337kcalCarbohydrates: 44.4gProtein: 15.7gFat: 11.1gSaturated Fat: 1.8gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 1703mgPotassium: 247mgFiber: 1.7gSugar: 13.8gCalcium: 39mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Pasta Salad, side dish
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