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Crab Pasta Salad

4.9 from 88 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.

4.90 from 88 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. samantha says

    5 stars
    looking for a crab salad recipe and reading the blurb, my father is currently battling terminal brain cancer.

    I have thought all the things you said and hes not even gone.
    You are an amazing mother and i dont even know you.
    sending you love and i will be serving this recipe at thanksgiving

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Samantha. Sending you lots of love and strength for you and your father. It is not an easy road, but I promise you will be okay.

  2. Christine says

    5 stars
    This looks very good please send me the website thank you

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Christine! If you just click the “jump to the recipe” button at the top of this post, you will be taken right to the recipe so you can make it. I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Ernestine Smith says

    What can u substitute for yogurt. Can u use Sour cream?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I haven’t tried this with sour cream as a substitute, but I can’t think of why it wouldn’t work.

  4. Kathleen S Hurley says

    5 stars
    Very forgiving and oh so good. No Celery Salt, no problem, I only had mayo. The soy and mustard gave it such great flavor. (We only had Wishbone too). I used my crab, shrimp and lobster I had from my seafood boil Christmas dinner. We used macaroni’s. I can’t wait to eat it chilled!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that you liked it!

  5. Karrie says

    I love making this and taking it to different occasions. For the dressing I use a whole small bottle of of Italian dressing and maybe 1/2 cup of Mayo. I want to try using the Olive Garden signature Italian but I’m scared to mess it up.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you like it! I think the Olive Garden dressing would be good in this!

  6. Melissa says

    Excited to try this recipe it doesn’t say to drain the black olives so I am guessing you don’t?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes, please drain the olives.

  7. T J says

    We absolutely loved the Pasta Crab Salad. At first I wasn’t very sure about the ingredients going together, but they were great. I will definitely make it again.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  8. Cheryl says

    Hi I Live in Saint John NB Canada I Can Not Fine Spike Seasoning and I Don’t Like Old Bay .. What Other Seasonings Can I Uses ?? And How Much Do I Uses ??

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m sorry, Cheryl, I have only tried with those two. I’d want to play around with other seasonings before giving you alternatives.

  9. Barbara says

    What can you sub for the yogurt? Husband hates yogurt!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Barbara! I’ve only made this with yogurt, but if I was going to experiment, I would try sour cream.

  10. Debby says

    Can I use Miracle Whip instead of Mayo or will it make a big change in the taste ?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I personally feel like those two taste VERY different and never use them interchangeably, but I’m sure some people would love that swap. It’s just personal taste.

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners