Crab Pasta Salad

This Crab Pasta Salad is loaded with crab and tons of vegetables! This pasta salad has all the flavors of a crab cake, toassed in a delicious make-ahead salad!

If you like this pasta salad recipe, head over and check out our Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad too! Some other great picnic side dishes are our Oven Roasted BBQ Potato Salad or the famous Buddha’s Baked Beans!

Crab cake pasta salad in a wood bowl with a red napkin

A Side Dish That Eats Like A Meal!

Well that is entirely up to you! This crab cake pasta salad recipe can really be both, it depends on what you’re looking for.

Crab Cake pasta salad is definitely hearty enough to be the main course, with tons of crab, peppers, celery and pasta. Definitely a complete meal in one bowl!

But it’s equally as good as a side dish for any picnic, barbecue or party that you might need an amazing, different pasta salad recipe.

Crab Cake Pasta Salad ingredients in a metal bowl

Do I Need To Use Lump Crab Meat For This Recipe?

Nope. But you can if you want to.

Unlike a crab cake, this crab meat is an ingredient in this pasta salad. It’s not the main component like it is in a crab cake. So because it’s being mixed in with pasta, vegetables and a dressing you really don’t need to splurge for the lump crab meat.

Claw meat or a combination of the two will work just fine. Grab whatever you have the budget for or maybe what’s on sale at the grocery store that day.

Because when the crab meat is tossed together with this killer pasta salad dressing, it’s not going to matter at all.

Crab Cake Pasta Salad is a side dish recipe for barbecues or picnics

Usually I can get a can of claw meat for around 15 dollars, and seeing as this pasta salad is going to feed a TON of people, that’s not a huge investment.

Spend your dollars on those steaks you’re going to throw on the grill instead. Then you can have a surf and turf party with this crab cake pasta salad on the side!

Crab Cake Pasta Salad is a pasta salad recipe that can be a side dish or the main course

What Kind Of Pasta Should I Use To Make This Pasta Salad?

Sometimes we use whatever we have in our cabinet. Sometimes we grab some fun pasta like this gemelli, but you can use bow ties, penne too. What you want for the most part is a tube shaped pasta that not only holds on to the sauce but stand up to the sauce, too.

No one wants mushy pasta salad so make sure and use a sturdy pasta.

Of course there are different types of pasta salad like cold sesame noodles that use spaghetti so there definitely is a place for those noodles too if that’s what you like using.

Just make sure to make this recipe a couple of hours ahead of time so thee flavors have a chance to blend together, it’s SO much better tasting that way!

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pasta salad with crab and vegetables in bowl

Crab Pasta Salad

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x

This Crab Pasta Salad is loaded with crab and tons of vegetables! This pasta salad has all the flavors of a crab cake, tosssed in a delicious make-ahead salad!



  • 1 pound gemelli, bow ties or penne pasta
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 lb. crab meat, rinsed and picked through (claw meat is fine for this salad, but if you have lump great!)
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

For the Dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and rinse under cold water. Place the pasta in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the ingredients together for the dressing in a small bowl. Pour over the pasta along with the peppers, celery and onion and toss to combine.
  3. Gently fold in the crab, cover with plastic and chill until ready to serve.
  4. Stir again before serving and garnish with parsley.
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: stir and chill
  • Cuisine: American

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6 Responses
  1. Karyl | Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

    Oh my goodness this looks amazing! I grew up on the East coast, and absolutely love crab. Now I live in the middle of Oklahoma, and refuse to eat crab unless I’m back in MD. I’m gonna need to make this when I go home to visit my family

  2. Jamie

    This looks sooo good. My family is not a big fan of relish though and we tend to substitue it out of recipes since it has a strong flavor. Would you recommend a substitute for the relish or just leaving it out?

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