Last Updated on April 20, 2022 by Chenée Lewis
Easy shrimp macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your next picnic or barbecue! Full of flavor with a kick from Creole spices, you’ll love this southern shrimp macaroni salad for any occasion! And if you want more recipes like this cold shrimp macaroni salad, try my Chicken Macaroni Salad, my Peanut Noodle Salad, or my New Orleans BBQ Shrimp!
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Easy Shrimp Macaroni Salad Recipe
Just in time for the summer cookout season, this is the best shrimp macaroni salad to make for family gatherings and barbecues! It comes together in just a couple minutes with pasta, cooked shrimp, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, chopped celery and green onions, and Creole seasonings. It's that easy and it definitely will be your new favorite shrimp macaroni salad!
Can you add shrimp to macaroni salad?
Absolutely! The shrimp adds a delicious element of flavor, plus it's a great protein add-in to turn this delicious salad into a meal!
How do I keep macaroni from absorbing mayonnaise?
One way we try to prevent the mayonnaise from absorbing too much into the macaroni is by rinsing the macaroni before adding it to wash off some of the starch. I also make sure to use a full-fat, extra rich mayonnaise. A mayo with too much water content will absorb more quickly. Finally, adding in the ranch dressing adds another level of creaminess to this easy shrimp macaroni salad!
Southern Shrimp Macaroni Salad Ingredients
This spicy shrimp mac salad is a fantastic easy summer dish, in part because it only takes a few ingredients! Here's what you'll need:
- macaroni or small shell pasta - I like the look of shell pasta, but you definitely can't go wrong with elbow macaroni! Feel free to use whole wheat, chickpea, or any alternative type of pasta you like.
- cooked medium shrimp - makes this dish so easy! I bought a bag of frozen medium cooked shrimp, so all I had to do was thaw the shrimp and cut it into chunks!
- chopped celery and green onions - gives your salad a nice crunch! You can also add any other veggies you have on hand -- I've seen this salad made with broccoli florets, green peppers, and white onions. Feel free to play around with what you've got!
- mayonnaise - crucial to give our macaroni salad that creamy consistency! I prefer Hellmann's because it produces a creamier result.
- ranch dressing - secret weapon! Adds a lot of flavor and more creaminess. I can't be the only Midwestern girl that grew up putting ranch on everything!
- Cajun or Creole seasoning - I use Tony Chachere's, but feel free to use any that you prefer!
- fresh lemon juice - just to brighten it up and complement the Cajun seasoning.
- salt & pepper - you can add salt and pepper according to your preference to bring out the already amazing flavors in this shrimp pasta salad.
- hot sauce - this is optional, but for people who love their food spicy (like me), it's really not optional. If you prefer, serve it on the side so that folks can add a little kick as the wish. I like Crystal hot sauce, but any hot sauce you like would be great!
This recipe doesn't take any special tools -- just a pot to cook your pasta, a big bowl to mix it all up, and some measuring cups and knives. It couldn't be easier!
What's the Recipe for Macaroni Salad?
There almost aren't any steps to this recipe. Once you have your ingredients ready, just toss them in a bowl and stir. It's that simple! This is one of the easiest summer side dish recipes you'll try! Here's what you need to do:
- Cook and drain pasta. Boil your pasta in well-salted water, and make sure you cook your pasta so that it's al dente. Since it'll absorb some of the liquid once it's mixed with everything else, you don't want your shrimp macaroni salad to end up too mushy.
- Chop up your shrimp and veggies. Since we're using cooked shrimp, getting the rest of the ingredients takes no time at all! I like to cut my shrimp into smaller pieces to distribute them more evenly, and chop my celery and green onions pretty finely.
- Toss all your ingredients in a big bowl. Get everything well coated with the mayo, ranch, lemon juice, and seasonings.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Give it a taste and add more cajun seasoning if you like. If you're like me, you'll also add a little hot sauce for even more of a kick!
Tips and F.A.Q.
Your shrimp mac salad should last up to two days, well covered, in the fridge. If you like, mix in a bit more ranch dressing and mayo to bump up the creaminess just before serving.
Since the shrimp is pre-cooked when you buy it, it's up to you! I like medium shrimp in this macaroni salad, but you can also use larger shrimp, or go for the smaller salad-style shrimp.
That could be a result of not rinsing the pasta before mixing it all together. The stickiness is another result of the starches present in the cooked macaroni, so remember to rinse your pasta to achieve a creamy shrimp macaroni salad!
If you try this recipe, I would love it if you could leave a rating and comment below! It’s so wonderful hearing your feedback! And don’t forget to share your creations with me by tagging @chenee_today on Instagram!
What to serve with this southern shrimp macaroni salad
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chunks
- Puff Pastry Pizza
- Rice Krispie Treats with Chocolate Chips
- Lemon Icebox Pie
- No-Churn Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
- 1 lb (454 g) small shell or elbow macaroni pasta
- 1 lb (454 g) cooked medium shrimp - peeled, deveined and tails removed; cut in half
- 3 stalks celery - finely chopped
- 4 whole green onions - chopped
- 1 cup (224 g) mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup (80 g) buttermilk ranch dressing
- 3 teaspoon (15 ml) cajun or creole seasoning - plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoon (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
- salt & pepper - to taste (optional)
- hot sauce - optional
- Cook pasta one minute less than package directions in well salted water. Rinse, drain and place in large bowl.1 lb small shell or elbow macaroni pasta
- Add all other ingredients to bowl and stir.1 lb cooked medium shrimp, 3 stalks celery, 4 whole green onions, 1 cup mayonnaise, ⅓ cup buttermilk ranch dressing, 3 teaspoon cajun or creole seasoning, 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, salt & pepper, hot sauce
- Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Chill at least 30 minutes until ready to serve.
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