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Crab Pasta Salad

4.87 from 65 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.

4.87 from 65 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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  1. Bernadette says

    Just made this,…it’s delicious,..just don’t substitute…I thought I had scallions and had to use some red onion, wish I didn’t use but it’s delicious nonetheless. I’m sure it will be even better after 2 hours in the fridge. So sorry about your mom, she sure was meant to be there when her grandchild was born. She’s always with you. Stay well.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for your sweet words.

  2. Sherri R says

    5 stars
    I made this recently & we loved it. I found myself going back over & over again for just “one more bite”. I did substitute Mexican sour crema (Lala brand) for the yogurt. My husband loathes even the word yogurt! The Mexican crema is not as sour as regular sour cream. I also added a 12oz pkg of fully cooked small shrimp. I added more of the seasoning & some dried dill with a pinch of cayenne. Sooooo good!
    I would like to offer my condolences on the loss of your mom. I did not see the original post, but I was livid at the cruel, cold hearted post by .the poster named Janet. I truly believe that anyone that could post something so ugly must have very deep seated mental issues. Her life has to have been filled with pain for her to want to inflict that type of pain on others. May God take pity on her soul.

    • Lisa Longley says

      One more bite is my middle name! Thank you so much for your sweet words.

  3. Dana says

    5 stars
    Love love all your recipes. So simple and delicious 😋 I made this and substitute with peas. So delicious I could not stop eating it.
    So sorry about your loss, my condolences to you and your family.
    And those hater comments..ugh they’re trolls 😆
    Keep posting your amazing recipes

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you for your kind words!

  4. Katrina. says

    5 stars
    I love this recipe.. i make all the time with no leftovers but I was wondering can I freeze this?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m glad you like it! This wouldn’t be my choice of one to freeze. This combination of ingredients just won’t be the same after frozen.

  5. Marlene Rousselle says

    Please i would like to see the nutrition breakdown on receipes. It helps if your diabetic.

  6. Tracey says

    Can you use canned crab instead, drained of course!

    • Lisa Longley says


  7. Linda B says

    I just read the comment by that “Janet” person. Please ignore her. My Mom always told us that when someone says something ugly to or about you – it says everything about them and nothing about you. What I learned from your post is that you loved your Mom so much and miss her terribly. I’m so sorry for your loss. All the blessings and joy for your baby. FYI – the crab salad is AWESOME!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

  8. Helen says

    Can you substitute green olives for the black ones?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’ve never tried that. They are a saltier than black olives, so you might want to use just a little less soy sauce in the dressing.

  9. Sharon Fater says

    What do you use in place of the yogurt for the crab salad? Don’t see any substitute!

    • Lisa Longley says

      You could try using sour cream instead. :)

  10. Mary Czekalski says

    Hi Lisa –
    The crab salad recipe is delicious!!!
    I’m so sorry about the loss of your mom. It sounds as if you two had an incredible bond that can never be broken.
    Her recipe is terrific.
    I know she’s watching over you and is incredibly proud of you. ❤️

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners