Shrimp Pasta Salad

SaladQuick and EasyFish and Seafood

Simple shrimp and pasta salad, with an oil and lemon dressing, small pink shrimp, bell pepper, red onion, garlic, and basil.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

The heat has finally arrived in Northern California, and with it, the need for some cooling pasta salads. Here’s a simple and easy shrimp pasta salad made with those little pink shrimp that you can find in the freezer section of almost any grocery store.

While our gulf shrimp fisheries are suffering at the moment, these little shrimp come from sustainable fisheries in the cold, sub-Arctic oceans, either Atlantic or Pacific.

They’re called boreal shrimp, Maine shrimp, or just “pink shrimp” because they’re pink even when they’re raw. But you won’t buy them raw. Pink shrimp come already cleaned, processed, and cooked, ready to eat.

We’ve made this salad a couple of times already, most recently for a potluck where it was a big hit. Fresh basil, red bell peppers, red onions, and a lemon and olive oil dressing with just a sprinkle of red chili pepper flakes dance well with the shrimp and pasta. We think you’ll like it.

Shrimp Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side salad

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

Defrost frozen shrimp by placing them in a bowl of cold water. Keep chilled until used. 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
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds small pink shrimp (also called Maine shrimp or boreal shrimp, comes already cooked)
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup chopped basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 1/3 cup high-quality olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • Black pepper to taste


1 Cook the pasta in well salted water (1 Tbsp 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.

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

Serve chilled.

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Shrimp Pasta Salad

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

13 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Elizabeth Pulido

    I made it for my Cusin’s bday party wow everyone loved it this recipe is awesome and delicious and very easy to make.


  2. Carol

    Perfect summertime meal! I made this for dinner tonight, and it was a hit on this record temperature-setting day. Thanks Elise!

  3. Tyrone

    This salad is awesome! I just made it for a 4th of July gathering. The lemon juice is a great idea…it gives a fresh zest to the salad and really brings out the taste of the basil. I used orecchiette pasta since my local market had sold out of bow-tie pasta. Highly recommend.

  4. LTWorth

    I made this salad for a family get together this week and everybody, even the kids, loved it!

  5. James King

    Perhaps this is sacrilege, but this recipe also works without chilling or cooking, even though it does taste better when chilled. (I say this because I live in the Florida Keys, where hurricanes can leave one without power for several days at a time.) If you use small shells or broken-up angel-hair pasta, you can reconstitute dried pasta with room temperature water by letting it soak for two or three times the length of time you normally would boil the pasta. Instead of the fresh shrimp, use 3 or 4 cans of canned tiny shrimp, rinsed and drained with shell fragments picked out. If fresh red bell pepper isn’t available, then pickled bell pepper is a good substitute.

    I love it when a recipe is posted that can be altered for disaster conditions. During such a time, having good, wholesome, safe food to eat can make the stress of disaster survival much more tolerable. Thank you for this delicious lunch. :)

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