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Crab Pasta Salad

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This simple crab pasta salad is creamy and delicious. It is also a cool and refreshing make ahead salad that is perfect for so many occasions.

Bowl of imitation crab pasta salad with peas, red onions, shell pasta, and creamy dressing.

Imitation crab pasta salad is the perfect summertime dish. I like to enjoy it for lunch, but it also great as a side dish. It is also a great option for carry-ins, picnics, and potlucks.

As the warm weather rolls in, so do the cravings for salads. Whether it is a nice big green salad loaded with toppings to make a simple meal, or a great pasta salad, there is just something about having something cool to eat.

I have always been a sucker for crab salad. It is simple, but oh so tasty.

It is great on a sandwich or as a dip with pita chips. I can’t be trusted alone with a bowl of it.

So, I thought it would be fun to take that basic idea and turn it into a pasta salad. It is every bit as good as I thought it would be!

Substitutions and Additions:

The best part about salads like this, is they are super easy to adapt to your liking. I love it the way it is written, but you could add a whole lot of different things to make it your own.

Some suggestions include:

  • chopped celery
  • diced green pepper
  • olives
  • a couple of shakes of Old Bay Seasoning
  • celery salt

I like using real mayonnaise in this salad, but Miracle Whip or other whipped salad dressings would also work.

You can use small shrimp in place of the crab if you would like. Or some real lump crab if you have access to it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if there’s not enough dressing?

Sometimes as the pasta salad chills, the pasta soaks up too much of the dressing.

If you want a little bit more, you can just add a couple of extra Tablespoons of mayonnaise, or even a splash of milk to loosen it up. Stir it into the pasta salad, taste then add salt and pepper if needed.

How do you store macaroni salad?

This salad can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freezing is not recommended.

Forkful of crab macaroni salad with creamy dressing and peas, ready to eat.

What pasta should I use for pasta salad?

I love using shells for this particular recipe because they go with the seafood theme. Otherwise, farfalle (bow-tie pasta) is always fun in pasta salads.

Other short shapes also work. Rotini, elbow macaroni, and other bite-sized shapes are good choices.

How do you cook pasta for pasta salad?

Cook the pasta al dente, or just a little bit firm. A minute or two less than the package suggests is good.

Drain the pasta well, then rinse it. That helps to remove extra starch so the pasta doesn’t stick together.

White serving bowl piled high with creamy seafood pasta salad with peas and dill.

More Recipes to Try

If you like different pasta salads, you may enjoy making some enchilada pasta salad. Or try making coleslaw pasta salad for a fun salad that combines two favorite summer side dishes.

For more seafood favorites, try making Nana’s Cajun crab chowder. Or whip up some shrimp salad profiterole for a special event.

Serving bowl filled with crab pasta salad with chunks of imitation crab, shell pasta, peas, dill, and creamy mayonnaise dressing.

Imitation Crab Pasta Salad

Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Carlee
This pasta salad is creamy and delicious. It is a great side dish for picnics, potlucks and more. It also makes a great brown bag lunch, so make extra to take to work with you.
5 from 1 rating
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 18 minutes



  • 16 ounces medium shells pasta
  • 16 ounces imitation crab meat
  • 12 ounces frozen peas thawed
  • ¼ cup red onion finely diced
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Cook pasta to al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.
    16 ounces medium shells pasta
  • Cut the crab meat into ½-inch pieces.
    16 ounces imitation crab meat
  • In a large bowl, stir together the chunks of crab, peas, onion, mayonnaise, dill, salt and pepper.
    12 ounces frozen peas, ¼ cup red onion, ¾ cup mayonnaise, 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Add the pasta and stir until well coated. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.
  • Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
  • Store leftover in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


For added crunch, stir in ½ cup chopped celery.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 353kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 13gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 643mgPotassium: 245mgFiber: 5gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 344IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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5 from 1 vote
Recipe Rating

Tuesday 4th of June 2024

My family loved this!