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Seafood Pasta Salad is always such a hit at any potluck or summer cookout. It’s a perfect combination of creamy, crunchy, onion-y and even sweet from the imitation crab. Serve with Smoked Pork Butt or Grilled Chicken Kabobs.
Why You’ll Love This Salad
Everyone will love this pasta salad, they just will! Even the “I don’t like fishy tasting fish” people will like it. Imitation crab is such a mild and sweet tasting meat on its own, but in this salad, once you have added the crunchy veggies, herbs, seasonings and mayo, you won’t be overwhelmed by fishy flavor at all. It’s simple, light and fresh and easy to throw together. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you have access to fresh crab meat, either store-bought from the fish counter of your grocery store…or crabbing in the ocean and caught it yourself, this is a great recipe to use it. Imitation crab is delicious though, and what I used in this recipe today. In all honesty…I actually prefer the imitation crab in this type of cold salad.
What is Imitation Crab?
Imitation crab is made from surimi, which is fish meat that has been deboned and made into a paste and mixed with other ingredients to be heated and formed into crab-like cuts of meat. Even though it says crab in the name, imitation crab doesn’t actually contain any crab. It is usually made with Pollock fish and sometimes has some crab extract added in for flavoring. I am able to find imitation crab in my local grocery store near the frozen seafood section. You’ll be looking for packaging that says “imitation crab”, “crab-flavored seafood” or “surimi seafood”. It comes in flake or leg style. If you get the leg style, you’ll be chopping it up before adding to the salad.
How to Make Seafood Salad
For full recipe details, including ingredients needed and measurements, see the printable recipe card down below. Here is step by step what you can expect when making this pasta salad:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt generously, then add dry pasta noodles and cook according to package directions for al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain pasta, run cold water over them and set aside.
Pro Tip: For cold pasta salads, it’s best to slightly undercook your pasta so it holds up well when refrigerated.
Chop Crab Meat, Veggies and Herbs
Chop imitation crab meat (or separate the pieces if you bought the flaked kind), and chop all vegetables and herbs.
Combine All Ingredients
Add all ingredients (cooked pasta, imitation crab meat, mayonnaise, vegetables, herbs and seasonings) to a large bowl and stir to combine.
Chill at Least 1 Hour + Serve
Refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to serve. Serve chilled with fresh herbs of choice for garnish.
Pro Tip: For this type of pasta salad, the flavors really need to marry so the longer it sits, the better it gets!
Make This Seafood Pasta Salad Your Own
The beauty of a pasta salad like this is you can tailor it to what ingredients you have on hand or what your family enjoys (or doesn’t enjoy!). Here are some variations you can try:
- Pasta Choice: Use any short pasta shape your heart desires! I prefer the medium shells because the mayo and herbs get into the nooks and crannies and make for a creamier bite, but feel free to use what you prefer or have on hand. Some ideas are: bowtie, macaroni, gigli, radiatore, penne, rotini, etc. You could even swap out regular pasta for your favorite gluten free or low carb pasta if you’re catering to dietary restrictions.
- Vegetables: The vegetables I chose for this salad are what I think go well in a mayo-based pasta salad, but if you have a picky eater who doesn’t like onions, for example…leave them out! You can also add other vegetables like cucumber, carrots, radishes, and a variety of herbs of your choice.
- Crab: As previously mentioned, while I really do prefer imitation crab in this pasta salad, feel free to swap it out for real crab.
What to Serve With Seafood Pasta Salad
This is the perfect salad to bring to any of your summer celebrations…Memorial Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, or Labor Day! It is a great sidekick to grilling meats- chicken, hamburgers, steak, hot dogs, bratwurst…all the things! This recipe makes such a large portion that I always have leftovers and will just grab a cup for lunch for the next few days. SO delicious and easy peasy!
Storing Leftovers + Make Ahead Directions
Seafood Salad stores really well in the fridge…for up to 5-6 days actually. Because it stores so well in the fridge, it’s easy to make this a day before you want to serve it. I would actually suggest that you DO make it a day or two ahead because it just tastes better the longer it sits.
To Freeze: To store this salad for a longer period of time, you can freeze it! Place in an airtight, freezer safe container for up to 3 months! Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
More Summer Salads to Try!
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Caprese Salad
- Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad
- Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Creamy Potato Salad (no eggs!)
I hope you love this Seafood Pasta Salad! It’s such a good summer side dish and honestly good anytime of year too! I would love to hear what you think by leaving a comment and star review! Have a great day, friends!
Seafood Pasta Salad
- 1 lb pasta medium shell noodles (or any short pasta)
- 32 oz imitation crab meat flaked (or chopped)
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 cup red onion finely diced (about half a large onion)
- 1 cup celery diced, including leaves
- 2 tbsp chives fresh, chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped
- 1 tbsp basil fresh, chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp pepper or to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt generously, then add dry pasta noodles and cook according to package directions (about 8 minutes). Drain pasta, run cold water over them and set aside.
- Chop imitation crab meat (or separate the pieces if you bought the flaked kind), and chop all vegetables and herbs.
- Add all ingredients (cooked pasta, imitation crab meat, mayonnaise, vegetables, herbs and seasonings) to a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to serve. Serve chilled with fresh herbs of choice for garnish.