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 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
Imitation crab meat:
Medium pasta shells: I made sure to boil these until just al dente. You do not want to over-boil these or they will make for a mushy texture.
Veggies: These paired together nicely to flavor the salad.
- red pepper
- red onion
White wine vinegar: This acid was needed to balance the sweet and tangy of the mayo and dressing combo.
Salad dressing: I love adding a combo of mayo and salad dressing (Aldi brand) because it provides a nice depth of flavor.
Whole milk: Provides creaminess to the pasta.
Granulated sugar: To add some sweetness to the tang.
Mayonnaise: Add to the creaminess of the salad.
Old Bay seasoning: Because crab + Old Bay – life!
Salt & Pepper: For extra magic
Prevent 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.
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.
Summer pasta salads
- Vegetable Quinoa Pasta Salad
- Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad
- Buffalo Sausage Pasta Salad
- Pesto Caprese Macaroni Salad
- Bowtie Pasta Salad with Feta
Crab Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces pasta shells medium size
- 8 ounces imitation crab meat flake style, shredded
- 3/4 cup red bell pepper diced
- 4 tbsps red onion diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 3/4 cup salad dressing
- 1 cup mayo
- 3 tbsps whole milk
- 3 tbsps white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsps granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp old bay seasoning
- Boil pasta until al dente. Once tender, remove from heat, strain, and rinse with cold water until pasta is cool. Drain excess water.
- Chop all veggies and mince crab meat.
- Add ingredients to a large bowl with the dressings, mayo, spices, and pasta.
- Mix well and cover tightly. Place in the fridge for 4 hours.
- Unwrap cover and mix well before serving. You will notice the pasta will have sucked up about 50% of the dressing.