Shrimp Pasta Salad

Make this easy shrimp and pasta salad for your next picnic or potluck! It's made with tiny pink shrimp, pasta, a handful of veggies, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Ready in 20 minutes.

Shrimp Pasta Salad
Elise Bauer

Here's a simple and easy shrimp pasta salad! Fresh basil, red bell peppers, red onions, and a lemon and olive oil dressing with just a sprinkle of red chili pepper flakes play so well in this shrimp pasta. You can assemble the whole salad in the time it takes to heat the pasta water and cook the pasta.

Which Shrimp to Buy

Any small, cooked, peeled shrimp will do. When available, the best shrimp for this salad are the little "pink shrimp" from Maine (so called because they are pink even when they're raw). Frozen cooked shrimp works well for this recipe because all you have to do is put it in cold water for a few minutes to defrost, and the salad is served chilled.

A Great Potluck Dish!

We've made this salad several times, most recently for a potluck where it was a big hit. If bringing to an outdoor gathering, do keep it chilled.

Shrimp Pasta Salad in bowl
Elise Bauer

Tips for Making This Shrimp Pasta Salad

  • You can make this pasta salad a few hours ahead of serving. Keep it chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • This shrimp pasta salad is best eaten the day it's made.
  • The pasta will absorb the dressing the longer it sits. If your salad seems a bit dry when you're ready to serve, just toss in another tablespoon or two of olive oil and lemon juice.
  • You can used canned shrimp if that's what you have, but be sure to rinse the shrimp and drain them very well to avoid a watery salad.
  • This recipe is easily doubled. Just double all of the ingredients, including the salad dressing.

More Great Pasta Salads for You to Try!

Shrimp Pasta Salad

Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 4 servings

Prep the ingredients while you heat the pasta water and cook the pasta.

You can easily double the pasta amount if you want to stretch the salad further.

The salad is best the same day it is made, otherwise the basil is a bit wilt-y, and the pasta a bit sticky.


  • 1/2 pound bow-tie (farfalle) or orecchiette pasta, or other short pasta
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds small frozen, already cooked and peeled shrimp (if available, pink shrimp aka Maine shrimp)
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup chopped basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Thaw the shrimp:

    Defrost frozen shrimp by placing them in a bowl of cold water. Keep chilled until needed.

  2. Cook the pasta:

    Cook the pasta in well salted water (1 tablespoon salt for every 2 quarts water) until al dente, a bit firmer than you would normally eat. (The pasta will absorb some of the salad dressing and soften further after cooking.)

    Rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and put into a large bowl.

  3. Assemble the salad:

    Rinse the shrimp and drain well. Add them to the bowl with the pasta and mix. Add the remaining ingredients and gently mix until well combined.

  4. Chill and serve:

    Chill the salad for at least an hour before serving. Serve chilled.