Easy to throw together and so flavourful, this shrimp macaroni pasta salad is one to make for lunches, BBQs or picnics. Succulent shrimp matched with tomatoes, corn, avocado, bell peppers and creamy mayonnaise salad dressing, everyone will come back for more.
Why You’ll Love Our Shrimp Macaroni Pasta Salad
When it comes to salads, sometimes we need to go back to the simple things and create a big bowl of deliciousness. And this creamy macaroni salad with shrimp is one for that list.
Like many pasta salad recipes, this shrimp macaroni salad is a great recipe to feed a crowd. And what I adore about this easy pasta salad is that it is so forgiving.
You can pretty much toss together a variety of vegetables and herbs with macaroni pasta and succulent shrimp to make a flavourful cold side dish that everyone will like. A great opportunity to use up any leftover veggies or herbs in the fridge.
And if you need a salad ahead of time, you can easily prep this and chill in the fridge before serving. The extra time allows the dressing to meld with the macaroni pasta.
How To Make Macaroni Pasta Salad Less Bland?
For today’s combination, I decided to go with a variety of flavours and textures.
The charred corn adds a smoky depth to the shrimp macaroni pasta salad, sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy baby bell peppers, and creamy avocado. This mixture makes a flavourful pasta salad on the table.
Simple salads often rely on the salad dressing for extra flavour. Classic macaroni salad dressings have a mayonnaise base and sometimes can make the salad bland and gloopy.
A great way to add extra oomph and make it less bland is to include spices or additional herbs.
Old Bay seasoning is a popular option to add to shrimp macaroni salad. Alternatively, try salsa and cumin, like our Mexican macaroni salad, to spice up the flavours. For this recipe, I added a few splashes of Tabasco hot sauce to give the mayo dressing a kick.
This shrimp macaroni salad recipe is forgiving, so you can play around with the flavours and add your own twist.
Flavour/Texture: Creamy flavours with bites of meaty shrimp and crunchy fresh vegetables, this classic shrimp pasta salad combination is universally loved.
Ease: By using pre-cooked shrimp, this pasta salad is very easy to make. Cooking the pasta properly is probably the most challenging part of the recipe. But even the most novice cook can usually accomplish that!
Time: I would give this recipe approximately 20-25 minutes to make, depending on how long the pasta takes.
These are the main ingredients you need for shrimp macaroni pasta salad:
Pasta: Macaroni is great for cold pasta salads because of its small elbow shape. It holds shape when cooked, and the hollow centre allows the salad dressing to cling on for extra flavour.
Shrimp: I went with pre-cooked shrimp for this recipe because it speeds up the preparation process. However, you can also use fresh shrimp and cook them.
Corn/Cherry Tomatoes/Avocado/Baby Peppers: I chose this combination of vegetables to go with the pasta salad mainly for the pops of colour plus the various textures each element brings. There is a good balance of sweetness and creaminess between corn, tomatoes, avocado and baby peppers.
Mayonnaise: Good quality mayonnaise is much needed in this recipe.
Lemon juice: To help balance the creaminess of the mayonnaise, I used lemon juice for acidity. Citrus flavours are perfect with shrimp.
Dill: I love the citrusy and anise-like flavour of dill. A great pairing with shrimp.
Tabasco: For a little extra oomph and heat, I added a few drops of Tabasco hot sauce to the salad dressing. It helps to cut through the richness of the salad dressing.
Variations and Substitutions
Different pasta variety: I generally have macaroni pasta ready to go in my pantry but you can substitute it with any other small pasta type.
Try fusilli like our Tuna pasta salad or Casareccia in our peas and prosciutto pasta salad. Other types like rotini, bow tie, seashell or penne pasta would also work well in pasta salads.
Fresh or pre-cooked shrimp: You can use fresh or pre-cooked shrimp for this recipe. I tend to use pre-cooked shrimp for pasta salad because I like to save time. Properly cooked fresh shrimp provides a slightly firmer texture than pre-cooked shrimp.
Tabasco substitute: If you don’t have Tabasco hot sauce, substitute it with sriracha or omit it if you don’t want a spicy dressing.
Other ingredients: This is a great recipe to use up any leftovers in the fridge. Other vegetables or ingredients you can match include celery, cucumber, peas, green onion, parsley, chives and dill pickles or even pair with mango when in season.
Grilled corn substitute: I adore freshly grilled corn in salads, just like our corn avocado salad. It adds a lovely sweet charred flavour. However, you can save some time by using canned or frozen corn.
Salad dressing variation: I suggest using our Marie Rose cocktail sauce if you want a tangier dressing.
Step by step instructions for how to make shrimp macaroni pasta salad:
How to Make The Salad
Cook macaroni pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside, ready for assembly.
Defrost pre-cooked shrimp or cook fresh shrimp until tender if using uncooked shrimp.
On medium-high heat with a BBQ or grill pan, grill corn until nicely charred and then slice kernels off the cob.
Peel and chop avocado into cubes.
Slice cherry tomatoes into halves.
Slice baby peppers into small rounds, or if using large bell pepper, dice into small pieces.
How to Make Creamy Salad Dressing
In a mixing bowl, add mayonnaise, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce and ¾ of the chopped dill.
Mix well until combined.
How to Assemble the Salad
Place shrimp, macaroni, grilled corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes and baby peppers in the salad bowl and add creamy salad dressing.
Toss together until shrimp and pasta are well coated with salad dressing.
Season with salt and pepper.
Scatter the remaining chopped dill on top.
How to Make This Salad Perfectly (Expert Tips)
Prepare ahead of time: This is a great pasta salad recipe to make ahead of time. Making it a little earlier will give the macaroni time to absorb the creamy salad dressing.
Do not overcook pasta: No one likes their pasta salad overdone. So be sure to cook pasta until al dente.
Chill before serving: I prefer a cold shrimp salad, so put the salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Season properly: A generous pinch of salt and pepper goes a long way for this recipe. Taste and season to your liking.
Great Mains for This Salad
What to serve with shrimp macaroni pasta salad? Try these delicious recipes:
For an all rounded pescatarian meal,this pan seared cod with tomato would go perfectly with the shrimp and macaroni. Alternatively you can try these fresh tofu summer rolls for a nice light lunch with family and friends.
While you’re making the shrimp macaroni pasta salad, put these delicious roasted chicken quarters in the oven. Great dinner idea!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Shrimp macaroni salad benefits from being prepped in advance. Keep in fridge well chilled until ready to serve.
You can store salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
I don’t believe it is a good idea to freeze the salad. The mayonnaise dressing would split when defrosting.
You can’t go wrong with an easy pasta salad recipe that you can prep ahead. The flavours are familiar and comforting but spruced up with delicious juicy sweet shrimp and a hint of spice.
This shrimp macaroni salad will be an excellent addition for BBQs, picnics or even a fancy lunch.
More Salad Recipes with Seafood:
Shrimp Macaroni Pasta Salad
- 250 g macaroni
- 200 g shrimp, pre-cooked
- 1 avocado
- 1 corn
- 3 bell pepper, baby
- 150 g cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp dill, chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Tabasco sauce, to taste
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Cook macaroni pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside, ready for assembly.
- Defrost pre-cooked shrimp if required, or cook fresh shrimp until tender.
- Grill corn on a BBQ or grill pan until nicely charred, and then slice kernels off cob.
- Peel and chop avocado into cubes.
- Slice cherry tomatoes into halves.
- Slice baby peppers into small rounds, or if using large bell peppers, dice into small pieces.
- In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce and ¾ of the chopped dill.
- Mix well until combined.
- Place shrimp, macaroni, grilled corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes and baby peppers in the salad bowl and add creamy salad dressing.
- Toss together until shrimp and pasta is well coated with salad dressing.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter the remaining chopped dill on top.
- Serve chilled.
- Do not overcook pasta. Cook until al dente.
- Keep in fridge well chilled until ready to serve.
- You can substitute macaroni with any other small pasta type. Fusilli, rotini, bow tie, seashell or penne pasta would also work well in pasta salads.
- You can use fresh or pre-cooked shrimp for this recipe.
- You can save some time by using canned or frozen corn instead of charred corn.
- Other vegetables or ingredients you can add include celery, cucumber, peas, green onion, parsley, chives and dill pickles or even mango if in season.
- Try our Marie Rose cocktail sauce if you want a tangier dressing.
- You can store salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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