Shrimp Salad is the perfect pasta salad loaded with shrimp, sweet pickles, green onions and hard boiled eggs with a creamy mayonnaise and mustard dressing.
This Shrimp Pasta Salad is perfect for cookouts, BBQS, picnics, potlucks and any occasion where you are needing a yummy recipe for a pasta salad.Jump to Recipe
My mother-in-law/2nd mom has made this as long as I can remember. It is a family favorite and is usually part of all holiday meals.
It is a salad that is just a bit different than an ordinary pasta salad with a mayo mustard dressing. The shrimp takes it up a notch and makes it a little more tasty and a little more crave-able. Make it once and I think it will end up being a favorite at your house too.
The pasta used for this pasta salad is small shell pasta. The larger shell pasta will work great, and any other shaped pasta would work too.
You can swap out the small shells for mini bow tie (or regular sized bowtie), macaroni, cellentani, rotini or even Ditalini (the tiny little tube pasta).
I cook my pasta while I prep the other ingredients.
The dressing is a pretty standard mayo-mustard dressing found on a lot of pasta salads or potato salads. Except this one also has Miracle Whip in it.
Yes, you want to add both. Miracle Whip has a bit of a sweeter, tangier taste with a little bit of spice, whereas mayo has more of a rich almost sour egg-y taste. They compliment each other and are both creamy and delicious when added together.
Along with the mayo and Miracle Whip, you will add some yellow mustard.
Next, some sugar is added to balance out the tanginess along with garlic salt, onion powder and salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Just mix all of the dressing ingredients together, adjusting the seasonings to your liking. Set the dressing aside while you prep the other ingredients.
Shrimp is the star of this salad and is what elevates it from any other creamy pasta salad.
I use canned shrimp because it’s cheap and easy. Fresh shrimp works great also. Fresh shrimp is usually a lot bigger than the medium sized canned shrimp so you will need to chop it up into smaller pieces.
I use medium sized canned shrimp, preferably de-veined. If it is not de-veined/cleaned it’s not big deal, this is just personal preference (the veins gross me out).
If using canned shrimp, drain the juices out of the can of shrimp and empty the shrimp out on a cutting board. Do a quick rough chop for any larger pieces.
OPTIONAL: If there are any large veins (the dark line that runs down its back) I try my best to remove them the best I can. Again, not necessary, just personal preference.
NOTE: The shrimp can break apart really easily when it is canned so it won’t stay in perfect little shrimp pieces and that is ok. It will break up even more when added to the salad.
DO NOT USE TINY CANNED SHRIMP! They are never de-veined (that grosses me out) and DO NOT USE WILD SHRIMP.
HARD BOILED EGGS
The next thing you will need is 5 to 6 hard boiled eggs. If they are smaller eggs I use 6, if larger 5 will do. You can always add more if you love hard boiled eggs.
Peel the eggs and then chop them up into smaller pieces .
SWEET GHERKIN PICKLES
Sweet pickles are needed for this salad for a little bit of sweet crunch. The recipe calls for Sweet Baby Gherkins.
The “Gherkin” just refers to the pickle size. They are smaller and a bit crunchier because they are smaller. But just regular sweet pickles will work too.
Cut the sweet gherkins in to smaller pieces. I usually cut the small pickles into fourths, lengthwise. Then chop it up into smaller bits.
Green onions need to be chopped up. 2 bunches are plenty for this Shrimp Pasta Salad.
THE SHRIMP SALAD
You will need a large bowl to mix up this salad. I add a little of everything, a bit at a time (almost like layers), mixing it together as I go. This way all of the ingredients are mixed pretty evenly in the bowl.
Once the pasta and other ingredients are mixed together in the bowl, add your dressing. Add it slowly as you go. Add the dressing to your liking, depending on how saucy you want it.
If you use all of the dressing it will be super saucy, which is okay because it will soak in a bit as it sits.
I usually leave out about 1 1/2 cups of dressing to add later. The dressing will soak into the pasta so if you make the salad and don’t eat it right away, you may want to add a little more when ready to serve.
If you have leftovers you will most definitely want to mix in some more dressing the next day. So keep any leftover dressing.
This salad needs to stay refrigerated until serving and put back in the fridge after serving. If you are taking it to a picnic or potluck and can’t keep it cold, you can take a bowl of ice and place the bowl of salad in the bowl of ice to keep it cold for longer as people eat.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers will keep well for 3 to 4 days.
For some other delicious pasta salads that are perfect for cookouts, BBQs, picnics or potlucks try my BLT Ranch Pasta Salad, Cucumber Pasta Salad, Easy Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Spinach Tortellini Pasta Salad, Easy Italian Pasta Salad, or my Fast and Easy Pasta Salad.
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- 16 oz. Small Shell Pasta *see notes for other options
- 2 (6 oz.) cans Medium Shrimp, de-veined preferred *fresh shrimp works great too see notes
- 5 to 6 Hard Boiled Eggs
- 10 Gherkin Pickles, or more if desired *I buy the small 16 oz. jar of Gherkins
- 2 bunches Green Onions
Dressing *add more or less seasonings to taste
- 2 cups Mayonnaise
- 2 cups Miracle Whip
- 1/4 cup Yellow Mustard
- 1 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Cook your pasta according to the package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking make your dressing. Just add the dressing ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mix the ingredients together and adjust the seasonings to your liking. You can also add more mustard, mayo or Miracle Whip.Set the dressing aside.
- Open the cans of shrimp and drain the juices. Dump the shrimp on a cutting board and try and remove any veins if there are any. Rough chop the bigger peices as needed. It’s ok if it breaks apart a bit.*If using fresh shrimp, chop it into smaller pieces.
- Peel the hard boiled eggs and chop them into small pieces.
- Chop your Gherkin pickles into small pieces,
- Chop your green onions into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta, the shrimp, eggs, pickles and green onions. I like to take a little of each and mix it as I go (sort of creating layers of mixed up ingredients).
- A little bit at a time, add the dressing to the salad, mixing it as you go. Add as much as you like. (It will be very saucy if you add it all).***Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the dressing to be added later if you aren’t serving it right away or if you are planning on having leftovers. (The pasta will soak up some of the dressing so it is nice to have some extra on hand.)
- Serve the salad and enjoy.
- Keep the salad cold before and after serving. If taking the salad to a picnic where you can’t keep it cold you can fill a larger bowl with ice and then place the salad bowl in the bowl of ice.Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.