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Crab Pasta Salad

4.8 from 34 votes
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posted: 06/19/15

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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. Looking for more recipes to bring to your potluck?

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!

READER REVIEW

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

4.8 from 34 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!  

Ingredients

  • 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

Dressing

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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

Video

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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.

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  1. Maryellen Crawford says

    Can you use regular mayo?? Don’t like fat free.

    • Lisa Longley says

      You sure can!

  2. Janet Mills Pike says

    I don’t like black olives at all, could I use green olives instead?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I don’t think I would enjoy green olives in this. I think I would rather just skip them all together. But tastes vary! You might love it!

  3. Jesse says

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I couldn’t help but cry when I read about your mom. I can relate so much, I had my child in 2016 & my mom passed away last year with metastatic breast cancer at 56. I will be making your pasta very soon and reminiscing good times with her.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Jesse, I’m so sorry for your loss! 56 is way way too young.

  4. Darcy J Lepech says

    Hi Lisa, I want to make the crab pasta salad and I wondered about the mustard, is that prepared mustard or dry mustard???

    • Lisa Longley says

      Prepared mustard!

  5. Candace C says

    5 stars
    I clicked on the link to get a recipe for crab salad and ending up crying! This recipe is delicious; I wouldn’t change a thing!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Aw, I’m sorry. And thank you.

  6. Janet Ingaldson says

    Are any of you capable of publishing a recipe without the punishment of reading 2 pages of your boring personal life? Nobody cares about your stupid mom, or your baby. A couple sentences and we get it, you don’t need to show us your truly narcissistic, all about you attitude, prevalent through your diatribe.
    JUST PUBLISH THE RECIPE AND STOP BORING PEOPLE WITH YOUR PETTY LIFE.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Dear Janet,
      In my almost 10 years of blogging this is far and away the most hate filled comment I have ever gotten … and I have received death threats. I’m so sad that the bar is now so incredibly low.

      The notion that someone could be this awful to another human over having to scroll for a free recipe is beyond baffling to me. I wouldn’t wish the losses I’ve had to endure on my worst enemy. And yet, if me talking about it publicly helps even one person feel less alone in their own grief, it is worth more hateful Janet comments. (Though there is a jump to the recipe button at the top of posts people choose to skip.)

      I know based on your email address that you won’t see this reply, and I take a little solace in the fact that someone who uses a fake address has at least some awareness of how awful this is.

      Nonetheless, I sincerely wish you a life with more joy, more love, more kindness, and more peace.
      Lisa

  7. Katelin says

    5 stars
    Dear Lisa, I haven’t made your recipe yet but I will because It looks and sounds delicious! I also want to apologize for reading that terrible comment under Janet Ingaldson. Some people are mentally ill and unstable and I hope you don’t take any of the negativity to heart and that you matter. Thanks for sharing your story and your recipe and never stop for anyone!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much, Katelin!

  8. Vanessa Enns says

    I cannot find Spike seasoning in Canada, is there a substitute I could use?
    By the way this recipe looks and sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it.
    I’m so very sorry for your loss, my heart aches for you. 💔

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for your kind words! And you can use Old Bay Seasoning in it’s place.

  9. Barbara Brady says

    I will let you know how my crab salad turns out I used veganese dressing to cut out fat and other bad ingredients, imitation crab, and I had no Italian so I used one if my good dressing again no fat little bit of sweetness but again no sugar had monk fruit to sweeten it but had Venegas in it …can’t wait tobtry it waiting for banza pasta(made with chicken peas) to cool off I forgot to rinse in cold water…but I guess I still could so I can try it sooner!!

  10. Kristine Edwards says

    Hey there!
    My boyfriend is lactose intolerant could I leave out the yogurt or substitute it for more mayonnaise?
    Thank you!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I really love the balance of the yogurt and the mayonnaise in this. I would suggest using a non dairy yogurt instead.

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