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Crab Pasta Salad

4.91 from 90 votes

posted: 06/19/15

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Crab Pasta Salad is a family recipe, one of my favorites! Packed with veggies and delicious flavor, it’s a staple at summer BBQs! This crab pasta salad is made with Italian dressing and either Spike or Old Bay Seasoning.

It is made with imitation crab, though you could certainly substitute real crab meat int his pasta salad. The pasta shells work perfectly in this recipe, holding on to the sauce and making a great crab pasta salad recipe that you will want to make again and again.

bowl of crab pasta salad

Today my mom would have been 69 years old. And I’m sure that she would have loved me sharing that with the internets.

Or maybe at this point in her life, she would have been completely cool with it. She might have even worn it as a badge of honor.

My mom was diagnosed with fourth stage metastatic breast cancer when she was 57 years old. I was just shy of my 21st birthday. I remember vividly taking a walk with her in the brisk cold April Wisconsin weather just after she was diagnosed. I can remember the exact coat and hat she was wearing. Her doctors had told her to just go home and enjoy the last month of her life with her family. She was talking about fighting. She was talking in terms of years. And she was saying if she could just have two more years. She and I agreed that that would be amazing.

And then two years flew by.

I graduated college, started graduate school, bought a house, got engaged.

Two years wasn’t nearly enough. There was no time that would have been enough.

overhead photo of crab pasta salad separated by ingredients

After I became pregnant with Gavin my mom told me all confession style that she had really wanted to live just to see me get pregnant. And then Gavin was here, and just hours later she made her exit. Like once she knew he and I were safe she could succumb and give her body some peace.

overhead view of a bowl of crab pasta salad

Regularly I think to myself, “Okay, now I really need my mom.” As if all the challenges that came before were just a rehearsal compared to this current challenge. I mean, I’m totally kidding myself. There was nothing about Elliot that was a dress rehearsal. It’s just that when you are in the current challenge, and the past is the past . . . you get it.

I’ve been having those moments recently. The “Okay, now I really need my mom,” moments. And I just keep thinking that if I can’t have her here, the least I can do for myself is try to be the kid that she would have been proud to have raised. Scratch that. My mom would never have wanted to take credit for my poise, strength, patience with my screaming kids, etc. . . . I want to be the kid that I feel like lives up to the amazing mom that Betty was.

bowl of crab pasta salad

So that was kind of intense for a Friday morning, huh?

Let’s have some Crab Pasta Salad, shall we?

This was one of my mom’s recipes and I LOVE it. It was one of those recipes that meant summer to me. One of those recipes that I would just stand in the door of the fridge and eat out of the container with a fork when I was a teenager, until my mom would walk in and say, “Lisa. Just put some in a bowl for yourself.” Sooooooooo good!

One of the things you are going to love about this recipe is that it is super forgiving. My mom didn’t even use a recipe. The recipe I have from her is like, “a generous squirt of mustard.” So if you don’t really like that much dressing on your pasta salads, just cut back on the yogurt. Don’t like olives? Leave ’em out. No celery? Add some frozen peas instead. You get it.

Make it for your summer picnics and love it year after year!

If you make this recipe leave me a comment letting me know what you think!


I tripled your recipe and was very pleased with the outcome. At the gathering I took it to, the people raved. Thank you.

4.91 from 90 votes

Crab Pasta Salad

Serves: 10
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
This Crab Pasta Salad is a family recipe, one of my favorites!  Packed with veggies and delicious flavor, it's a staple at summer BBQs!  


  • 1 lb medium pasta shells
  • 1 pound package imitation crab meat cut bite size
  • 1 can medium black olives sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper diced
  • 3 or 4 green onions sliced thin about two inches into the green
  • 3 stalks of celery diced


  • 1 1/2 cups plain non fat yogurt see note
  • 1/4 cup fat free mayonnaise
  • 1/2 TBSP Spike found in the spice aisle (you can also substitute with 1/2 a tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning)
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 TBSP yellow mustard
  • 1/2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Italian vinaigrette salad dressing see note


  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a very large bowl, mix the pasta, crab, olives, red peppers, green onions, and celery.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayo, Spike, celery salt, yellow mustard, soy sauce, and salad dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta and veggies and stir to combine. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.


Do NOT use Greek yogurt for this recipe. It is way too thick and doesn’t give the dressing the right consistency or flavor.
My mom always used Seven Seas Viva Italian salad dressing for this recipe. I used Wishbone because it’s what Nathan picked up at the store. Again, this recipe is forgiving, so just use what you find.
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

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Crab Pasta Salad

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Barbara says

    5 stars
    I had a package of imitation crabmeat in the fridge when I came across this recipe. It was an 8 oz. package so the recipe halved very well. I have to admit as I put the dressing together I wondered about the combination of soy sauce, yellow mustard and Old Bay but I put it together as directed and it tastes wonderful. This recipe is a saved favorite now! Highly recommend!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy to hear that!

  2. Debby says

    Can you substitute Djohn mustard for the yellow mustard or will it change the taste too much?

    • Lisa Longley says

      It will change the taste a little, but if you like Dijon mustard I’m sure you’ll love it!

  3. Sherry says

    5 stars
    I love the combination of old bay, mustard, and salad dressing in yougurt. Beats what I normally do by far.. ( all those main meet veggies, with just mayo salt and pepper) I just made this recipe, it’ll be ready in a couple hours. Cooling off.. I added egg whites for more protein. I know this will be delicious!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I hope you love it!

  4. Dorothy says

    5 stars
    I make alot of salads with imitation crab and when I saw this one I knew I had to try it, it was soooo good and I will be sure to make it throughout the summer for an easy summer lunch. My husband who is not crazy about imitation crab couldn’t believe how good it was. I have to use gluten free noodles and it still tasted really good.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked this one as much as we do!

  5. Sharon says

    Im planning on making this for the weekend. How long will it last refrigerated?

    • Lisa Longley says

      This will taste best within the first 24 to 48 hours but will last night the refrigerator for up to four days.

  6. Carol says

    What a beautiful story you shared about your Momma😔😔I will make this salad&t hunk of you and your Momma😀💚💚❤️❤️😍😍

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you, Carol!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners