A blend of diced veggies, seasoning, and imitation crab meat are mixed with pasta shells in a creamy dressing. This seafood crab pasta salad is best served chilled and is an ideal BBQ side dish, or potluck salad recipe idea.
Love imitation crab meat? If so, this recipe for crab meat is for you! Inspired by a seafood pasta salad from a beloved restaurant, this salad is creamy and loaded with flavor!
Summer cold pasta salads are my favorite go-to recipes for meals. In fact, this crab pasta salad could serve as a meal in itself. It is hearty and loaded with diced veggies and a healthy amount of imitation crab meat.
Crab Pasta Salad Ingredients
The ingredients in crab pasta salad work together to create a flavorful, creamy, and refreshing dish that is perfect for a summer picnic or potluck. Check out what we used below for a delicious crab salad.
- Imitation crab meat is made from a combination of fish, starch, and seasonings, and it has a flaky texture that resembles real crab meat.
- Medium pasta shells are a good choice for crab pasta salad because they have a large surface area that can absorb the dressing. They also have a sturdy texture that will not fall apart when the salad is tossed.
- The vegetables in crab pasta salad add color, flavor, and texture to the dish. Celery, red pepper, and red onion are all good choices for crab pasta salad.
- White wine vinegar adds acidity to crab pasta salad, which helps to balance out the sweetness of the mayonnaise and sugar.
- Salad dressing adds creaminess and flavor to crab pasta salad. You can use any type of salad dressing that you like, but a vinaigrette dressing is a good choice because it is light and refreshing.
- Whole milk adds creaminess to crab pasta salad without making it too heavy.
- Granulated sugar adds sweetness to crab pasta salad, which helps to balance out the acidity of the vinegar.
- Mayonnaise adds creaminess and flavor to crab salad. It also helps to bind all of the ingredients together.
- Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that is popular in the Chesapeake region of the United States. It adds a unique flavor to crab pasta salad that is both savory and spicy.
- Salt and pepper add flavor to crab pasta salad. They also help to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
Preventing Dry Pasta Salad
This crab pasta salad features an ample amount of dressing. Yes, it is not the most health conscious salad, but it is worth it as a treat! As this salad chills in the fridge, the pasta will absorb about 50% of the liquid. If you skip on ingredients, the salad will be dry. Check out some tips to prevent this!
- Use the right type of pasta. Use a pasta that will not absorb too much dressing, such as penne or rotini.
- Cook the pasta al dente. Pasta that is overcooked will be mushy and will absorb more dressing.
- Drain the pasta well. After cooking the pasta, drain it well and rinse it with cold water. This will help to remove excess starch, which can cause the pasta to dry out.
- Add the dressing to the pasta while it is still warm. This will help the dressing to coat the pasta evenly and prevent it from drying out.
Chilling Crab Pasta Salad
After your pasta salad boils, be sure to rinse the shells in cold water to remove any heat from them. Drain any excess liquid to prevent gummy pasta.
Ensuring your pasta salad is chilled for at least 4 hours will produce the best results. You will get the most flavor bang for your buck if you allow these flavors to meld. I prepared the salad, and covered it with an airtight wrap. Before serving, be sure to mix the salad which will not be as creamy as when it went into the fridge.
Love this recipe? Check out some additional Summer Pasta Salad recipes to try for your next BBQ or meal side below!
Summer Pasta Salads to Try
- Vegetable Quinoa Pasta Salad
- Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad
- Buffalo Sausage Pasta Salad
- Pesto Caprese Macaroni Salad
- Bowtie Pasta Salad with Feta
Crab Pasta Salad
- 6-quart pot
- cutting board & knife
- Measuring cups & spoons
- 8 ounces pasta shells medium size
- 8 ounces imitation crab meat flake style, shredded
- ¾ cup red bell pepper diced
- 4 tbsps red onion diced
- 2 celery ribs diced
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, crab meat, celery, bell peppers, and red onion.
- In a small bowl combine the dressing ingredients and whisk.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture and toss to coat.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.