This creamy Cajun shrimp pasta salad is spiked with bold flavors of the bayou, tender shrimp, and crisp peppers, onions, and celery.
If you are craving a new twist on the pasta salad scene, jazz up your next potluck with the flavors of Louisiana. The pasta salad is creamy with just the right amount of heat, and is packed with cajun flavors.
Cajun Shrimp Pasta Salad Ingredients
- Bowtie pasta - I chose the bowtie shape because it is similar in size to the shrimp, which makes balanced forkfuls.
- Shrimp - I use 31/40 cooked shrimp in this recipe, however, you can use smaller as well. I would not go bigger though.
- White onion - White onion has a great raw crunch.
- Celery - Dice it small so you get the crunch, but not overwhelming celery flavor.
- Red bell pepper - I use red bell pepper, but any sweet pepper works.
- Mayonnaise - Mayo forms the base of the dressing.
- Sour cream - Equal parts sour cream is the second half of the dressing base.
- Cajun seasoning - It is important to use salt free cajun season to prevent the pasta salad from being too salty. Many store-bought brands add a lot of salt. Substituting my homemade creole seasoning would be a great choice because it has similar flavors and no salt added.
- Sugar - A touch of sugar balances out the heat.
- Hot sauce - Use a Lousiana-style vinegar-based hot sauce like the Crystal brand or Tabasco.
What is the cajun holy trinity
You will notice this recipe calls for onion, celery, and pepper. These three vegetables make up what is known as the holy trinity of cajun cuisine. They are practically a requirement is all Cajun recipes, so it would be remiss not include them here.
How to make this pasta salad
Heat the water and boil your noodles as you prep your ingredients. Once the noodles are al dente rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool them down.
The pasta salad is really easy to assemble, as everything just gets mixed together in a large bowl. I find it is easiest to mix the sauce ingredients first, then fold in the vegetables, shrimp, and noodles.
Can this be made in advance?
You can make the Cajun shrimp pasta salad a day in advance if desired. Pasta salads don't always do well when made too far in advance because the noodles will soak up any excess liquid, becoming mushy and removing much of the dish's creaminess. However, this recipe did fairly well the next day when I tested it.
Customize this recipe
Cherry tomatoes would make a bright addition to this salad, but that is more typically found in creole cuisine. Still, I doubt any of your picnic guests would care. You could also add cooked andouille sausage instead of shrimp, or along with it. Finally, a little pickled okra could add some punch to the flavor as well.
More Cajun and Creole Creations
Cajun Shrimp Pasta Salad
- ½ pound bowtie pasta
- 1 pound cooked shrimp (31/40 shrimp or smaller)
- ½ white onion (diced)
- 2 stalks celery (diced)
- 1 large red bell pepper (diced)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (salt-free)
- 1 teaspoon Vinegar-based hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Crystal brand)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt to taste
- Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. When finished cooking, rinse under cold water to cool it down.
- While pasta is cooking add all dressing ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together.
- Add pasta, shrimp, and vegetables to the dressing and gently mix together. Taste for salt and add more as needed.
- Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator until served.