Old Bay Seasoning Substitutes

If you’ve ever tasted Old Bay seasoning, then you’ll know how delicious and unique it is. Made from a rich blend of celery salt (salt and celery seeds), spices (including red and black pepper) and paprika, this seasoning really packs a punch.

But what can it be used with? Well, primarily Old Bay seasoning is used with crab and shrimp, giving what is quite a plain meat that super spicy flavor.

Old Bay Seasoning Substitutes

However, it is often used in clam chowder, popcorn, salads and eggs (see also ‘9 Egg Substitutes For Pancakes‘).

In fact, you can use this on almost anything. But what if you don’t have any in the cupboards? How can you make a decent Old Bay seasoning substitute (see also our favorite salad supreme seasoning substitutes)? Well, if you keep reading this article, then we’ll tell you how.

What Is Old Bay Seasoning?

Old Bay seasoning is something that is used to mainly flavor seafood. It is made from a mixture of paprika, black pepper and salts and has a very vibrant flavor. This is originally from Maryland in the USA, although it is now exported all over the world.

You can even put this one in alcohol and it is used to spice up drinks such as a Bloody Mary, which comes with Tobasco sauce and plenty of tomato juice.

This is made by the McCormick company, which has patented the recipe and now exports it all over the globe. But what if you don’t have any traditional Old Bay seasoning in your kitchen? Well, let’s have a look at some alternative recipes for this seasoning.

What Recipes Are There For Homemade Old Bay Seasoning?

As we have already listed the ingredients for Old Bay seasoning, then you can quite easily replicate it using any herbs and spices that you have in your home. Here are the things that you’ll need to make your own Old Bay seasoning:

All you need to do is gather these ingredients together in a bowl and mix them thoroughly. Once you have done this, then you have pretty much the exact recipe for Old Bay seasoning.

The key ingredient to getting this seasoning mix too closely represents that of Old Bay seasoning is the celery. This is what marks it out from any other seasoning blend.

This will really elevate the level of this seasoning, giving it the lightness to counterbalance the darker and more bold flavors of the other spices and herbs.

If you find that this recipe does not compare that much to the Old Bay spice that you might buy in the store, then we would recommend that you tinker with the constituent ingredients until you get the balance just right.

The Salt Content Of Old Bay Seasoning

One of the main reasons you should keep tasting this recipe as you are mixing it is because of the very high salt content.

That’s right, traditional Old Bay seasoning comes with a high degree of salt. This is why you won’t want to be overloading it.

The salt is not only gross to taste, but it will not be very healthy for you, especially if you are suffering from things like high blood pressure.

You should also be aware that Old Bay has a lot of salt in it, therefore you won’t need to put extra salt on your seafood, as this will surely overpower the flavor of the Old Bay and the food itself!

How Long Can You Store Old Bay Seasoning In The Cupboard?

If you are picking up some Old Bay seasoning from the store, then you’ll know that it is sealed in an airtight container. In this container, your Old Bay seasoning will last anywhere between 6 months and a year.

This spice is best at its freshest, so we would suggest that you try and use as much of it as you can before the 6-month period.

What Dishes Can You Use Old Bay Seasoning With?

There are many different recipes that will certainly benefit from using Old Bay seasoning with. Here are just a few of those amazing recipes:

  1. Sheet pan shrimp boil – If you fancy boiling your shrimp on a sheet pan rather than in a deep crab pot, then you can use Old Bay seasoning to sprinkle it over the top and give it that extra kick that you need.
  2. Loaded potato soup – this potato chowder is thick, heavy but without any seasoning, it is very bland. This is why adding Old Bay seasoning will really elevate this to the next level.
  3. Roasted vegetables – why not give those plain old vegetables that little cajun kick with a good helping of old Bay seasoning?
  4. Easy sheet pan dinner – making dinner might not be such a boring chore if you are adding a healthy pinch of this amazing seasoning to your traditional Thanksgiving spread.
  5. Cajun shrimp and grits – have a crack at this traditional Deep South dish that comes with its fair share of Old Bay seasoning.
  6. Grilled shrimp – this is a simple and easy-to-make dish that you can have whipped up in less than an hour. Just roast the shrimp and then cover it in a thick layer of Old Bay seasoning.
  7. Baked salmon – as we have mentioned above, this seasoning is ideal for plenty of fish dishes. We all know salmon can be a bit plain, so why not add some Old bay?
  8. Oven-roasted corn – if you are looking for something that will liven up your grilled corn, then you can slather it in Old Bay seasoning before you shove it in the oven.
  9. Baked potato – again, on its own, this could be a very bland dish. But with one little shake of your Old Bay seasoning, then you can be sure it will have that spicy and aromatic flavor.
  10. Grilled mushrooms – this will be perfect to mix with your Old Bay seasoning, as the mushrooms themselves will absorb all of the Old Bay spice quickly with sumptuous results.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Old Bay Seasoning?

It goes without saying that with high salt content, this seasoning is mainly made of sodium and not much else. But is it good for you to consume in large amounts?

If you are suffering from health conditions like high blood pressure, then you should probably avoid putting too much Old Bay seasoning on your fries. You should also try and avoid it if you have high cholesterol.

This is also free from any preservatives and contains no gluten, dairy, meat or poultry. This is a great seasoning for vegetarians and vegans.

This will require absolutely no preparation or cooking. All you have to do is put your salts and peppers and other herbs and spices into a bowl and mix it up.

This is the seasoning of choice for anyone who is in a hurry.

How Should You Store Your Old Bay Seasoning?

This stuff is best stored in a sealed tub in a cupboard at room temperature. This way you’ll prevent any bacteria from getting into your seasoning.

This seasoning will have a shelf life of around 540 days, which is great if you are looking for something that will last you for a long time.

You can even forget about this seasoning and it will still be fresh when you are clearing out your cupboards.

You should make sure to avoid exposing this seasoning to direct sunlight or moisture. Moisture will cause bacteria to spread and for the taste of your Old Bay seasoning to dull.

When you are serving this seasoning, then we would recommend that you use spoons and serving cups. This will help you to get the right measurements, as this is a very strong seasoning and you don’t want to overuse it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Old Bay Seasoning Only For Seafood?

No, you can use this to decorate pretty much any food that you like. This is great for foods that taste particularly bland on their own.

We would recommend putting this on a selection of vegetables like potatoes and broccoli, so you can still get a tasty and healthy meal.

Is It Illegal To Make My Own Old Bay Seasoning?

It is only illegal to sell this product over the counter, but it is perfectly legal for you to make at home. This is actually cheaper to make than the original Old Bay seasoning by McCormick.

Does Old Bay Seasoning Contain Dairy?

This seasoning contains absolutely no dairy products whatsoever. Making it yourself will also guarantee that it will not come into contact with any dairy products before you serve it.

This is also great for anyone who suffers from extreme nut and gluten allergies.


We hope that our guide to making your own Old Bay seasoning has helped you get started on cooking up a batch for yourself.

The great thing about making your own Old Bay seasoning is that you can alter the ingredients to enhance the particular flavors that you want.

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