Old Bay Seasoning Substitute: Homemade Recipes And More

by Anne B. Robinson

Sometimes, adding a pinch of your favorite ingredient can completely turn your dish around. It’s no surprise that people all over the US are obsessed with Old Bay when it comes to adding a little kick to any plain old dish.

If you couldn’t find your stash of Old Bay depleting, there are several other items that can act as an Old Bay seasoning substitute. Read on to learn what alternatives work best for Old Bay addicts!

What Is Old Bay Seasoning?

old bay seasoning

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The culinary pride and joy of Maryland, the Old Bay seasoning is a blend of some amazing spices and herbs, including celery salt (salt and celery seed), paprika, red pepper, and black pepper.

The origin of this product can be traced back to 1939 and is credited to a sailor named Gustav Brunn. Today, it is being sold by the American food company McCormick

Old Bay seasoning can be used on any food and packs a flavor punch that is savory, with a hint of heat.

What It’s Used For

Most Old Bay seasoning users swear by using it to add flavor and character to seafood.

But why limit it to seafood? You can add this seasoning to pretty much anything you want if you’re looking for a spicy kick to your dish. The recipes are endless and can be expanded to your desired culinary experience.

It’s quite the rage amongst vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!

Old Bay Seasoning Substitute

Once you start using Old Bay seasoning for your dishes, there’s no stopping. It adds such a unique flavor to any dish that there’s just no going back.

On the off chance you run out of this seasoning, don’t worry. There’s plenty of alternatives that can work as an Old Bay seasoning substitute.

#1. Cajun Seasoning

cajun seasoning

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While Cajun seasoning may just be the perfect replacement for Old Bay seasoning, you might want to add it judiciously. It is a tad spicier than Old Bay and has an extremely bold flavor.

It has ingredients like pepper, garlic, cayenne pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika and is easy to find in most supermarkets. Cajun seasoning is a favorite for seafood dishes like salmon, shrimp, and gumbo.

#2. Todd’s Dirt

todd’s dirt

If you’re a spice enthusiast, chances are you’ll love Todd’s Dirt spice mix range.

With a flavor profile that is quite similar to Old Bay, this condiment truly elevates seafood. With ingredients like cayenne and chipotle powder, it gives a slightly tangy flavor in addition to the traditional Old Bay taste.

#3. Seasoned Salt

seasoned salt

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A mix of salt and herbs, you can easily get seasoned salt in almost every supermarket.

This condiment works best if you’re looking for a flavor palette that is adjacent to Old Bay seasoning but not quite the same. Remember, the main ingredient of seasoned salt is salt, so add only half the amount of seasoned salt as opposed to one tbsp of Old Bay seasoning.

Seasoned salt works best with potato-oriented dishes, salmon, shrimp, pork, poultry, and other delicacies that would benefit from a dash of salt and flavor.

Here’s the best part, you can even add some to your popcorn!

#4. Chinese Five Spice

chinese five spice

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The Chinese Five Spice is a blend of cloves, Sichuan peppercorn, fennel, star anise, and cinnamon.

Leaning a little towards the sweeter side of flavors, the Chinese Five Spice is a dynamic addition to most dishes. The blend heavily complements dishes that involve red meat, poultry, and seafood.

The flavors are not the exact same as those you’d find in Old Bay seasoning, but it would work well with dishes that typically benefit from the addition of the condiment. You can add celery salt to give it a little kick.

#5. Pickling Spice

pickling spice

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Walk up to the spice section of any supermarket, and you’ll find pickling spice.

Or, you could make one at home as well. Pickling spice is a combination of the following:

  • Mustard seed
  • Cloves
  • Bay leaf
  • Ginger
  • Cilantro seeds
  • Allspice
  • Red pepper flakes

Just knowing the drool-worthy flavor that these ingredients would combine to create is enough reason to stock your pantry with some pickling spice.

Usually used to pickle food and provide some much-needed flavor to soups and stews, this is an incredible alternative to Old Bay seasoning. Pickling spice is perfect for seafood and can be substituted in the same quantity as Old Bay seasoning.

How To Make Homemade Old Bay Seasoning?

If you’re intrigued by the herbs and spices used in Old Bay seasoning, you could experiment a little and make your own homemade Old Bay seasoning blend.

This will also help if you’re allergic to certain ingredients of Old Bay but want to add that flavor in your recipes without health risks.

What You Need:


#1. Nutmeg

#2. ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika

#3. 1 tablespoon of celery salt and celery seed

#4. Dry mustard

#5. Cayenne

#6. ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper

#7. Cinnamon

#8. Cardamom

#9. Allspice

#10. Mace

#11. Ground cloves

#12. Bay leaves

Simply add all these ingredients into a bowl and stir them well. You can add or remove spices and herbs as needed.

Store the mix in a tightly sealed container, and make sure to consume it within a few months!

Does It Really Taste Like Old Bay?

taste of old bay

Here’s the thing, since Old Bay is a proprietary blend, there’s no way to know the actual ingredients and the ratio in which they are combined.

But while the recipe may be a guarded secret, we can try to recreate an Old Bay seasoning substitute with a little trial and error too.

If you know your way around celery and its addition to flavor, that would determine if you’ve nailed the exact taste of Old Bay.

If not, you can still add a little of your own judgment and enjoy your own version of the seasoning!

How Long Should I Store Homemade Old Bay Seasoning?

It is recommended that you don’t use your homemade seasoning anytime beyond a year.

As you haven’t added any preservatives, it’s best to consume the blend within six months, and a year at most.

Make sure to seal it in an airtight container and store it in a place that isn’t too hot!

A Few Parting Words

Old Bay seasoning is one of the most preferred and tastiest additions to your dish if you’re a spice addict.

If you’re looking for an old bay seasoning substitute, you can always make do with the other alternatives in this article, or go ahead and make your own!

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