Crab Pasta Salad Recipe

By Rena Awada | Updated On August 12, 2023

Bright and flavorful Crab Pasta Salad is a delicious combination of crab, peas, red onion, and red bell pepper with pasta, all tossed in a zesty homemade dressing. A light and refreshing side dish or main course option that’s ready in less than 20 minutes!

Top view pasta salad with peas and crab.

Pasta salad recipes like this Crab Pasta Salad Recipe are perfect for easy dinners or celebrations and gatherings! They’re easy to make, packed with mouth-watering flavor, and are typically super satisfying. This variety takes the classic pasta salad to a whole new level with plenty of color and texture.

Why you should make this recipe

  • Great texture & color: One bite of this salad and you’ll be hooked! It’s got delicious fresh flavors and great textures, from crunchy veggies to flakey crab.
  • It’s healthy: This easy pasta salad is refreshing and pretty good for you too! The veggies, pasta, and crab provide you with vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Easy to make: Simply cook the pasta, chop the veggies, make the dressing, and toss everything together. Throw this together at a moment’s notice!
Closeup of a crab pasta salad.

Ingredients needed

We’re filling this easy crab pasta salad recipe with colorful, tasty ingredients that make it absolutely irresistible. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:

  • Pasta: Feel free to use any variety of noodles you’d like! A short pasta like ditalini, penne, farfalle, fusilli, shells or elbow macaroni work best.
  • Crab meat: You can use imitation crab or surimi, which is a fish (often pollock) that is often used as a crab substitute.
  • Vegetables: A mix of peas, red onion, celery, and red bell pepper add color, nutrients, and flavor.
  • For the dressing: The simple, slightly spicy dressing is made with extra-virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, sriracha or hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Sticks of imitation crab, uncooked pasta and veggies portioned into bowls.

How to make this recipe

  1. Cook the pasta: Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain and run through cold water, then set aside in a bowl.
  2. Assemble salad: Cut the crab meat and veggies and add them to the bowl with the cool pasta.
  3. Make the vinaigrette: To a small jar add all the dressing ingredients. Shake well to emulsify, then pour over the salad.
  4. Serve: Toss to combine and enjoy!

Expert Tips

  • If you’d like to make a gluten-free pasta salad, use gluten-free pasta, and be sure to read the label of the imitation crab or surimi. Most brands contain wheat.
  • If you’d like to make a vegan and vegetarian salad, simply omit the crab or surimi.
  • Be sure not to overcook the pasta. Al dente pasta is ideal. In addition, you should drain it and rinse it in cold water to stop it from cooking further.
  • If you find the onion is too intense tasting, soak it in water for 30 minutes to help take the bite out of it.

Frequently asked questions

Can you eat imitation crab raw?

Imitation crab is actually not raw and is fully cooked during the process of making it. You can eat it right out of the packaging. This makes it a great addition to cold salads and ceviche.

Do you rinse off pasta for pasta salad?

For this particular recipe, you will want to rinse the pasta in cold water. This is the best way to cool it down for salads that are served at room temperature or chilled. It will also help to keep the pasta from sticking together.

What is the best type of pasta for pasta salad?

We prefer short pasta shapes like fusilli, rotini, bowtie, penne, or cavatappi for pasta salads.

close up and top view of a bowl with pasta salad

Variations

Experiment with ingredients to make this crab pasta salad your own! Here are some options:

  • Protein: Keep this vegetarian and replace the crab with chickpeas or another favorite variety of beans. Or mix in cooked chicken, shrimp, or fish.
  • Make this gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta and either omit the crab or ensure that it is gluten-free.
  • Other mix-ins: Try adding marinated artichoke hearts, black olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini, and/or mushrooms.
  • Dressing: Swap out the dressing with a little over 1/4 cup of another vinaigrette.

Storage recommendations

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. The pasta will continue to absorb the dressing as it sits, so you may need to refresh the salad with a bit more olive oil.

Pasta salad tossed with crab, peas and red onion.

More pasta salad recipes

Also, If you try a recipe and you like it, leave us some feedback in the comment section below, and don’t forget to rate it! We would love it if you shared it with friends and family.

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Top view pasta salad with peas and crab.

Crab Pasta Salad

Bright and flavorful Crab Pasta Salad is a delicious combination of crab, peas, red onion and red bell pepper with pasta, all tossed in a zesty homemade dressing.
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Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 470kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 12 oz pasta of choice
  • 12 oz imitation crab meat or surimi
  • 1 cup frozen peas thawed
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 2 celery sticks finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp sriracha or hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain and run through cold water, then set aside in a bowl.
  • Cut the crab meat and veggies and add them to the bowl with the cool pasta.
  • To a small jar add all the dressing ingredients. Shake well to emulsify, then pour over the salad.
  • Toss to combine and enjoy!

Notes

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. The pasta will continue to absorb the dressing as it sits, so you may need to refresh the salad with a bit more olive oil.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 470kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 763mg | Potassium: 400mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1229IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 4mg
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