Shrimp Pasta Salad

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.

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


  • 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.

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  • Cindy Elliott

    Delicious! Just what I was looking for, will make it again. Thank you!


  • 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.


  • Carol

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


  • 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.


  • LTWorth

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


  • Kay

    I made this dish last night and it was wonderful. It is both classy and perfect for a hot summers night. Thanks for the recipe.


  • 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. :)

  • David Sandford

    I’ve always had a problem with vinegar/oil dressings (or lemon juice/oil) in salads with any type of pasta. I can’t make the salad more than a couple hours before the meal or the pasta appears to absorb the dressing and remove its taste from the salad.

    As I live in Montana and a visit to the relatives usually requires getting up very early, and then driving for 3 hours, this causes me problems. I’ve started either packing the dressing separately and mixing when I arrive, or going with a mayonnaise based dressing instead.

    With leftovers I usually just add more dressing.

    Anyone have any other thoughts or recommendations?

    No advice on this one, I find the same thing. I would just pack the dressing in a separate container and mix upon arrival. ~Elise

  • Anna

    Trader Joe’s just started selling a “sustainably harvested” canned wild pink shrimp from Oregon, described in their Fearless Flyer as *Pandalus jordani*, a coldwater species. The shrimp come peeled and cleaned prior to cooking and canning. But at $2.99 for a 4 oz can, it could get pricey to make 2 pounds worth. TJs recommends the shrimp as a garnish or gazpacho topping, sautéed with garlic, or in a shrimp salad/mini shrimp cocktail.

    I bought one can out of curiousity, so this recipe, minus the pasta, sound perfect for a shrimp salad on a bed of CSA baby lettuce leaves lunch today.

  • Charles Curran

    Always have shrimp in the freezer. XLarge. Have one of those pans with holes for the grill.Olive oil,salt,pepper and garlic. Pop on the grill for a couple minutes a side. Keep in the fridge for those types of salads, or pasta last minute dishes.

  • william

    Sounds delicious and we will try it this weekend in the Mediterranean. But, I assume the shrimp is either pre-cooked or one cooks it before starting the recipe? Raw shrimp is not our favorite.

    “Pink” shrimp comes already pre-cooked. I don’t think you can even buy them raw, at least not in a regular grocery store. ~Elise

  • Trish-in-MO

    Silly question: do you pack the basil (or loosely pack in this particular case) FIRST then chop? Thanks!

    Good question! Chop first. ~Elise

  • Laura T.

    This looks light and refreshing. I’m wondering if perhaps adding some blanched broccoli might be nice for a little extra color and texture…

  • Carol Jaros

    Just the dish I need for Sun. If I double the pasta, should I also double or at least increase the dressing?

    If you want. I didn’t, and was fine. I would adjust to your taste. If you think it needs more, add more. ~Elise