Shrimp Pasta Salad
Delicious Shrimp Pasta Salad is a flavorful mix of shrimp, fresh vegetables, and creamy avocado with tri-color rotini, all tossed in a zesty ranch Italian dressing. A light and refreshing side dish or main course option that’s perfect for feeding a crowd!
Pasta salads have really been making a comeback ever since we realized they don’t need to be loaded with a pound of mayonnaise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging those nostalgic, mayo-filled pasta salads, but wait until you try this incredible no-mayo shrimp pasta salad.
You just can’t go wrong with a good pasta salad, whether it’s pesto pasta salad, Greek pasta salad, or this hearty variety that is mayo-free, loaded with your fav pasta, all of the best summer produce and the easiest, Italian ranch dressing.
Pasta salad recipes like this one are perfect for summer celebrations and gatherings! They’re easy to make, great for picnics and potlucks and they’re packed full of flavor. This version takes the classic dish to a whole new level with plenty of color and texture.
This easy shrimp pasta salad recipe is filled with flavor, colors and textures that make it absolutely irresistible. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it for your next cookout:
- Pasta. Feel free to use any variety you’d like! I love tri-color rotini for extra color, but cavatappi or bowtie noodles work great too.
- Fruits & veggies. We’re adding colorful bell peppers (I like using orange, yellow and red bell pepper), sweet corn, cucumber, juicy cherry tomatoes, corn, and avocado.
- Shrimp. Precooked small shrimp (usually sold frozen) makes this recipe quick and easy. I like using small salad shrimp to match the size of the noodles and veggies. If you can only find larger shrimp, simply chop them into bite-sized pieces before adding to the salad (and make sure you cook them first, of course!). See the note in the recipe card for more details on how to cook shrimp for this recipe.
- For the dressing. I like to keep it simple by just mixing store bought ranch dressing and Italian dressing with some pesto, garlic, red onion and garlic powder. Super easy, yet really tasty!
How to make this recipe
Pasta salads are really easy to toss together! The most time consuming part of the recipe is cutting up all the vegetables. Here’s the simple method:
Full, printable recipe at the bottom of the page.
- Boil pasta. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse under cold water; set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Prep the veggies. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vegetables by washing and chopping them, and measure out all of the ingredients. Multi-tasking keeps this recipe moving quick and decreases the overall time. You can have this whole salad ready to go in just about 25 minutes!
- Toss all ingredients. Place the pasta salad ingredients and drained pasta in a large bowl.
- Make the dressing. In a medium bowl or in mason jar with a lid, whisk or shake the dressing ingredients to combine. Mixing the red onion in the vinaigrette will add flavor to the dressing, and also take the sharp bite out of the onion. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to fully coat all of the ingredients.
- Serve. Add salt & pepper and squeeze in fresh lemon juice to taste. Cover tightly and chill for about 4 to 6 hours. Mix in avocado just before serving for the freshest results. If you’d like, garnish this perfect side dish with fresh parsley or fresh dill. Enjoy!
Shrimp pasta salad is the ultimate simple meal or side dish! My whole family loves this one, and you just can’t go wrong with the combination of succulent shrimp, crunchy veggies, pasta and zesty dressing. Here’s some ways to serve it:
- Straight from the bowl. The noodles, high-protein shrimp and all of the vegetables make this salad plenty filling for a light meal.
- A top fresh greens. If you want to add even more nutrition and veggie goodness, you could toss this pasta recipe with fresh greens, then add on a bit of extra dressing to create a satisfying green salad.
- As a side dish. I typically serve this as a side with grilled meats, burgers or sandwiches. You could even omit the shrimp, if preferred.
Here are some tips for a delicious dish every time:
- Salt the pasta water. Since this pasta salad is eaten cold, the flavors can get muted. Make sure the pasta is well-salted as it cooks, since salting is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. Read about how to properly salt your pasta water here. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt to 4 cups of water. Also, don’t be afraid to add more salt to the finished salad if it needs it.
- Cook the pasta to al dente. Because the pasta sits in dressing, it tends to get soggy if overcooked. Pasta also gets a little firmer when served cold, so don’t under cook it or it can end up a bit crunchy! I boil the pasta right to the package directions of what al dente is (for rotini, that is 7-8 minutes).
This recipe is pretty spectacular as written, but the great thing about pasta salad is that you can easily customize the ingredients. Here’s some ideas:
- Pasta. I love using rotini noodles because they are fun to eat and the sauce gets trapped in the corkscrews, allowing for each bite to be SO flavorful! However, feel free to use any type of short pasta such as penne, farfalle, fusilli, shells or elbow macaroni.
- Make it gluten free. Simply use your favorite gluten free pasta shape.
- Protein. You can easily change up the protein by swapping the shrimp for grilled chicken, salami or cooked crumbled bacon. You could even make this vegetarian by simply omitting the shrimp or swapping with canned chickpeas.
- Cheese. Try adding in some cheese. Cubed cheddar cheese works great, but even mozzarella or crumbled feta cheese would be delicious.
- Vegetables. Add more veggies to the mix with cooked green beans, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, fresh spinach or grilled zucchini.
Make ahead & storage recommendations
- Make ahead. This salad recipe is great to make several hours in advance of serving because it’s best when served chilled. You can even mix the dressing together up to 2 days ahead of time, and store it in the refrigerator.
- Storing leftovers. Place leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days. Before serving again, give it a good stir, taste and season again as needed. I would recommend adding the avocado on when you’re ready to serve so that it stays fresh.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Shrimp Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces Tri-Color Rotini Pasta
- 3 medium bell peppers, diced (I use red, yellow and orange)
- 1 cup sweet white frozen corn
- 2 cups diced cucumber
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes , cut in half
- 1 pound cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp*, cut in half (frozen and thawed shrimp works great too)
- 2 medium avocados, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt , plus more to taste as desired
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste as desired
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to desired taste
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing
- 1/2 cup Italian dressing
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse under cold water. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- While pasta is cooking, prep the veggies by washing and chopping them, and measure out all of the ingredients.
- Once pasta has cooled, add it along with the bell peppers, corn, cucumber, tomatoes and cooked shrimp to a large bowl. Toss to combine.
- Make the dressing in a separate medium bowl by whisking all dressing ingredients together. Pour dressing over pasta salad and toss.
- Add salt and pepper and squeeze in fresh lemon juice. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. Mix in avocado just before serving for the freshest results. Serve & enjoy!