How to Make an Old Bay-Style Seasoning Mix

Old Bay-style seasoning mix with crabs

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Yield: 1/4 cup
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
3 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 3
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 103mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 9mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Old Bay seasoning is a classic spice mix often used to flavor seafood dishes, including Maryland-style crab cakes. Whether you can't find it in your local market or prefer to mix up your own spice blends to keep them fresh-tasting, it's easy to make Old Bay from scratch. You won't be able to tell the difference between the real thing and this recipe, and it allows you to adjust the spice mix to your taste, salt intake, and more.

While the exact ingredients are not revealed, Old Bay reportedly has a mix of 18 spices. It has a complex savory flavor, with bay leaf, celery salt, mustard, and pepper at the forefront. Paprika and various other spices add depth and make this a well-rounded seasoning. If you don't have every ingredient listed, make sure you include the most prominent ones and make substitutions sparingly.

This Old Bay substitute is a very versatile spice mix. While it's famously used for shellfish and other seafood, it works wonderfully on poultry and pork. Use it to flavor soups, stews, and creamy salads or dips, or sprinkle it on veggies, fries, or even popcorn. It has a six-month shelf life, so you'll have plenty of time to explore its many uses.

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Click Play to See This Homemade Old Bay-Style Seasoning Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground dried bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons celery salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground celery seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Old Bay-style seasoning
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

    Ingredients are combined in a mixing bowl with a spoon
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. Use in your favorite recipes and enjoy.

    Ingredients mixed in a glass mixing bowl with a spoon
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

How to Store

This mix will keep about six months when stored correctly in an airtight container. Never store spices near the stove because the heat causes them to lose potency more quickly. Store them in the dark, as sunlight—especially direct sunlight—can affect the flavor as well. Spice mixes can all look alike when several are stored together: Make sure to label any seasoning mix with the name, the date it was made, and the date it should be discarded.

Recipe Variations

You can change the amounts and proportions of the ingredients to your liking:

  • If you like spicy foods, use more of the dry mustard and crushed red pepper flakes.
  • To reduce the sodium, replace some of the celery salt with more celery seed.
  • For a smokier flavor, use smoked paprika and increase the amount.

Tips

  • If you are using whole spices, grind them into a fine powder and then measure for this recipe.
  • You can sometimes find ground bay leaf at the supermarket, but you may have to grind it yourself. Be sure to use dried bay leaves, not fresh; they grind more quickly and thoroughly into a powder.
  • It will take 15 large bay leaves to result in 1 tablespoon of ground bay leaf. It's a great way to use those broken bay leaves that are in the container.

What Types of Foods Can Old Bay Be Used In?

Old Bay seasoning is traditionally used to flavor seafood dishes, but you can use it in a wide variety of ways:

  • Spice rub for fish fillets, chicken breasts or thighs, or pan-fried pork chops.
  • Seasoning for a low country boil or crab boil.
  • Mix it into mashed or roasted potatoes or egg salad.
  • Mix with sour cream to make an appetizer dip.
  • Sprinkle on corn on the cob, popcorn, or fries.

What's the Difference Between Old Bay and Cajun Seasoning?

Old Bay and Cajun seasonings are complex spice blends commonly used for seafood and other foods. While the two include some of the same ingredients, this Old Bay replica uses more spices and has a bay leaf, celery salt, and mustard base. Cajun seasoning concentrates on paprika and is a little spicier because of the cayenne pepper. In many recipes, they could be used as substitutes for one another, though each will contribute a distinctly different flavor to a dish.