4.78 from 9 votes

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe with Creamy Dressing

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing is a delicious gourmet side dish for holiday menus and potlucks, but it’s also a fantastic full-sized dinner option with cheese tortellini and fresh bites of sautéed shrimp.

You will LOVE this pasta salad, and after one bite, it will be sure to be a favorite!

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad recipe piled high with sauteed shrimp, shredded carrots and cuts of red peppers

This week, on my cooking with my neighbors Tuesday recipe day, we really dove into shrimp. Honestly, shrimp is so underrated. It’s delicious; it’s majorly quick at only about 6 minutes to sauté, and it’s diverse.

You can eat shrimp from a grill, oven bake it, pop it in a skillet- heck, even the Japanese places near me cook up a little bit of shrimp. After some our the delicious recipes we created, we started to feel a bit like Bubba Gump in Shrimp.

But I have to share one more; I just have to. This shrimp pesto pasta salad is THE creamiest, most delicious, and gourmet side dish out there.

With decadent bites of cheese tortellini, a spattering of fresh vegetables, sautéed shrimp, and of course, the creamiest pesto dressing ever, this is a rich homemade side dish that will leave no bowl un-turned. 

Reasons to Love Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad

Tortellini – Who doesn’t love robust tortellini? They come in various flavors, filled with mushrooms, chicken, cheese, and so much more. In this case, we used four cheese tortellini as the base of our pesto pasta salad. 

Seafood – there really isn’t enough seafood at family and party gatherings. People think seafood is difficult to make, but it’s really not, and this shrimp pesto pasta salad is a great way to sneak a high-class ingredient into a birthday party, potluck, or picnic.

It’s also much easier to cook up than baking chicken for 30 minutes and cools down quickly for cold salads. 

Alterations- This pasta salad recipe is so easy to alter! The pesto and tortellini are pretty basic flavors that pair well with added ingredients like additional garlic; the shrimp can be substituted for other seafood like crab or salmon pieces. 

Vegetable Salad Options – In this tortellini pesto pasta, you could add almost any kind of small cut-up vegetables.

You could add broccoli florets, black olives, green peppers, or bits of cauliflower.

pesto pasta salad with dressing in a glass bowl

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad Ingredients

For the base of your salad, you need just a few things, veggies and pasta. 

  • Veggies –  red bell peppers, shredded carrots, green olives, frozen peas, shredded Parmesan (I like the FRESH shredded, not the KRAFT powder for this)
  • Tortellini – used Cheese version. Since this recipe includes shrimp, you don’t want to mix up flavors too much with other proteins. You can usually find the tortellini in the FRIDGE area near the cheese. It’s a fresh pasta that stays cold. 
adding cooked shrimp, Parmesan cheese and vegetables cut up into a salad bowl

Creamy Pesto Dressing Ingredients

Hint: Make your pesto dressing in a separate bowl so you can make sure you incorporate and mix your dressing perfectly before adding it to your pasta salad bowl. 

  • Mayo – I only use Hellmann’s
  • Pesto – It is OK to purchase pesto in a jar; it’s typically by the Italian products in your store, but if you want to make some homemade pesto sauce, I have a recipe.
  • Heavy whipping Cream – You can substitute half and half or milk if needed, but it might be less thick. Just lower the amount you use to find the right consistency. It won’t alter the flavor too much, although I always recommend using heavy whipping cream for that rich, hearty flavor.
  • Olive Oil
  • White Vinegar
  • Seasonings 
make your dressing and add directly to bowl of pasta and vegetables

More Delicious Shrimp Recipes

If you love shrimp and want to incorporate it more in recipes like I am, make sure you try some of my other creative options: 

  • Seafood Pasta Salad – This seafood pasta salad is made with shells and a mayonnaise base. While some ingredients are similar to this recipe, it tastes nothing like it. 
  • Mediterranean Shrimp Salad – Tomatoes, Avocados, and Shrimp, oh my! This is a super fresh salad with a simple non-mayo base.
  • Tuna Pasta Salad – Corkscrew pasta, tuna, and tomatoes make up this traditional side dish salad, perfect for picnics
  • Tri Color Pasta Salad – This salad doesn’t have shrimp in it, although when we made it, we had INTENDED on adding it. We simply ran out of shrimp before we got to this recipe, but it would be an amazing addition.
entirely mix your pasta and dressing together to make the perfect pesto pasta salad with shrimp
Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing is THE best gourmet side dish EVER #seafood #shrimp #pesto #creamy #salad #pastasalad #sidedish
4.78 from 9 votes

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad with Creamy Dressing

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Shrimp Pesto Pasta salad in a creamy pesto dressing is a delicious gourmet side dish with bites of shrimp and fresh crunchy veggies. Use robust cheese tortellini for a thrill in every bite. This is THE perfect seafood pesto pasta salad.



  • 1/3 cup green olives drained and sliced, pimentos ok
  • 1 cup peas frozen, but defrosted
  • 1 package of cheese tortellini cooked and tender according to package
  • 1 red pepper chopped up
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup Freshly sauteed shrimp cold


  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 tbsp shredded fresh Parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic 2 tsps minced if you do not want to use fresh
  • 1/4 cup whole whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup real mayo


  • Preparation: Cook tortellini pasta per package instructions, which are usually 8 minutes till tender and done. Drain and set aside.
  • Saute the shrimp, add to a bowl, and place in the fridge to cool.
  • Cut up vegetables into bite-sized pieces. In this case, I used carrots, olives, peas, and red onions, but feel free to add vegetables here as well. Suggestions in the article on good additives.

Make Dressing

  • Combine the following creamy pesto dressing ingredients – 1/4th cup basil pesto, 2 generous tablespoons shredded fresh Parmesan, 1 clove of garlic (2 tsps minced if you do not want to use fresh), 1/4th cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1/2 cup real mayo.
  • Add homemade dressing, cooked pasta, cooked shrimp, and veggies into a mixing bowl and mix until everything is well covered.
  • Refrigerate salad for up to an hour to chill before serving.



How to Saute Shrimp – 

Ingredients: Shrimp (peeled and deveined), 2 tbsp Olive oil, and salt and pepper
  •  If not already done, peel and devein the shrimp. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
  • Add the seasoned shrimp to the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side (simply use tongs to switch sides)  or until they turn pink and opaque. Large shrimp may need a little extra time.


  • Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, as they can become rubbery. As soon as they turn pink and curl slightly, they’re ready.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 526mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

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4.78 from 9 votes

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