Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad


One of the challenges of the holidays is keeping everyone fed when the family comes to town. We’re always looking for dishes that can feed lots of people well, without a lot of hassle, and that are relatively easy to store. Better yet if it can use up holiday feasting leftovers.

Here is a simple smoked salmon pasta salad that used up the last of some smoked salmon we had for a gathering. I take no credit for the idea; I shamelessly reproduced the recipe from a lovely pasta salad I had at a friend’s house the other day.

It must be my dad’s midwestern roots taking hold in me. Of all the beautiful dishes at the table, including roast goose and prime rib, the one I kept going back to for seconds was this pasta dish brought by Peg’s friend Jackie.

So simple, but so good! The little bits of smoked salmon do pretty much all the heavy lifting as far as flavor goes. There’s just enough mayo so the salmon sticks to the pasta. The celery and bell pepper provide color, coolness, and crunch.

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

While the pasta water is heating, prep the other ingredients.


  • 1 pound of dry penne rigati, gemelli, fusilli, or other short-cut pasta, or a combination
  • Salt for the pasta water
  • Olive oil
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 ounce smoked salmon, shredded
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of dried dill
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice


1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (use a tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water). Add the pasta. Cook uncovered, at a rolling boil until al dente, or tender, but still a bit firm.

Drain and rinse under cold water. (If you are making the pasta ahead of time, stir in a little olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking to each other.)

Note that if you are using different kinds of pasta, you may want to cook them separately as different types of pasta cook at different rates.

2 Stir in the rest of the ingredients, adjusting the amounts of mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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  1. Mary

    Thanks for the info. I guess I’m just partial to only having my smoked salmon on bagels. I think I will stick with the poached type for salad; however, I like looking at these recipes because sometimes they give me some interesting combinations of herbs and spices to punch up the flavor a little. Thanks.

  2. Mary

    I have a question. I’ve made a dish like this also. Basically a pasta salad with salmon rather than tuna. Is the salmon “cooked” or just smoked?

    Most smoked salmon you buy is cured first, in a salt and sugar brine, and then cold smoked. It is not cooked, but the curing and smoking process inhibits bacterial growth. You should eat it as is, without additional cooking, and store it in the refrigerator. See the Wikipedia entry on smoked salmon. ~Elise

  3. Charles

    I have made a similar dish for years but I also like to give it a little spice by adding some chopped chipotle and adobe sauce. It really compliments the smokiness of the salmon.

  4. Cilla

    I had a pasta salad similar to this, but with cubes of smoked mozzarella mixed in. My favorite!

  5. Tomoko

    There’s a great smoked salmon pasta dish I’ve had but it requires cooking chopped fennel, garlic, tomatoes, parsely. Then, you add the smoked salmon at the end and parm shavings. You throw all of it together with pasta. It’s really amazingly good.

  6. Steve-Anna

    Love this – I make a similar dish served warm first, then eat the leftovers cold. I use smoked salmon, fresh dill and green peas.

  7. Lulu

    I also love this type of pasta salad. I like to throw something like this together when I have some leftover chicken that I have to do something with. It’s a good way to use up any scallions, onions, parsley, etc. before grocery shopping day. I have never thought of making it with smoked salmon, though. Definitely will have to try it. Thanks!

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