Autistic people often show difficulty with facial expression recognition. However, the degree of difficulty varies widely, which might reflect varying symptom profiles. We examined three domains of autistic traits in the typical population and found that more autistic-like social skills were associated with greater difficulty labelling expressions, and more autistic-like communication was associated with greater difficulty labelling and perceptually discriminating between expressions. There were no associations with autistic-like attention to detail. We also found that labelling, but not perceptual, difficulty was mediated by alexithymia. We found no evidence that labelling or perceptual difficulty was mediated by weakened adaptive coding. Results suggest expression recognition varies between the sub-clinical expressions of autistic symptom domains and reflects both co-occurring alexithymia and perceptual difficulty.