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This Homemade Old Bay Seasoning recipe is a game-changer for any kitchen! Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but it also adds a burst of flavor to any dish it’s added to, from plump shrimp and crab cakes, to potatoes and Bloody Mary cocktails. With just a few simple ingredients that are likely already in your spice cabinet, you can whip up your own batch of beloved old bay spices in no time!

Photo of a bowl of shrimp with homemade old bay seasoning.

About this old bay recipe

The flavor is amazing, but honestly, the best part of this old bay recipe is the versatility. This Old Bay seasoning mix knows no bounds! Whether you’re using it to season shrimp, seafood, chicken, vegetables, or even popcorn, the flavor possibilities are endless. So, why settle for store-bought when you can easily create your own DIY Old Bay Seasoning copycat and take your cooking to the next level? As Nike says, Just Do It!

If you’re looking for more homemade spice mixes, be sure to try these flavorful recipes next: Jerk Spice MixFajita Spice MixGreek Spice MixItalian Spice Mix, and Sazon Spice Mix.

Why you’ll love this homemade spice 

Aside from being the best first mate you could ever ask for in the kitchen, this homemade Old Bay seasoning substitute recipe is also:

  • Quick & Easy – Measure, stir, and store. That’s it! Once you see how easy it is to make your own Old Bay seasoning, you’ll never go back to store-bought.
  • Totally Customizable – Make your seafood seasoning extra spicy or more mild, amp up the smokiness, tame down the saltiness… when you make your own spice blends, you’re 100% in charge!
  • Super Versatile – Seriously, this diy spice blend is delightful on everything from roasted veggies and popcorn to seafood favorites like shrimp boils and crab cakes. It’s also stellar on chicken, poultry, and beef. 

What is old bay seasoning? 

Old Bay seasoning salt is a classic American spice blend that’s been around for almost 80 years. It originated in Baltimore, Maryland, where it was created as a seasoning for the region’s famous blue crabs. (The way they pronounce it sounds more like “All Bay seasoning” or “O’Bay seasoning” to my Southern ears 😂) But over time, it’s become a staple in kitchens across the country, beloved for its unique combination of savory, spicy, and slightly sweet flavors.

Nowadays, people use Old Bay dry rub in all sorts of ways. It’s great for seasoning seafood, of course, but it also adds a ton of flavor to chicken, potatoes, corn on the cob, and even popcorn! Some people even sprinkle it on their fries or mix it into their mac and cheese. The possibilities are endless, really.

If you’ve never tried Old Bay seasoning before, you’re in for a treat. It’s a bit like a party in your mouth, with all sorts of flavors dancing around together. So next time you’re looking to add a little pizzazz to your cooking, give this Old Bay spice recipe a try!

Photo of all the ingredients to make the recipe for old bay seasoning.

Old bay seasoning ingredients

You only need a few ingredients to make your own Old Bay seasoning. If your spice cabinet looks anything like mine (hint: it’s overflowing), this quick and simple recipe will help you use up some of those odds and ends so you can finally get rid of a few bottles! Here’s what to grab:

Spices in old bay

  • Ground Dried Bay Leaves – These subtly herby, savory leaves are a must in this home made Old Bay. You can find bay leaf powder at specialty grocery stores, or you can make it yourself by grinding bay leaves in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. 
  • Ground Mustard Powder – Bright yellow dry mustard powder adds a bit of tangy sharpness to the blend. 
    • Substitution: You can grind up yellow or brown mustard seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle as a substitute.  Or you can also try using a little bit of Dijon mustard or yellow mustard instead, but don’t add it to the shelf-stable spice blend. Wait until you’re preparing whatever dish you’re using the spice blend to season and add it then.
  • Smoked Paprika – For adding a delicious hint of smokiness. Note, if you prefer your old bay spice on the spicy side, use hot smoked paprika. If you are feeding more delicate palates, use sweet or regular paprika.
    • Substitution: Ground chipotle chiles have a similar smoky flavor and spicy kick closer to hot paprika.
  • Regular or Sweet Paprika – This staple ingredient adds a bit of sweetness and depth to the seasoning, plus its signature orangey-red hue. 
  • Cayenne Pepper – This is what gives traditional Old Bay its kick. Feel free to dial the spice level up or down.
    • Substitution: Other spicy ground chili powders work too.
  • Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, & Allspice – These four spices add Old Bay’s signature warmth, sweetness, and a hint of holiday spice. 
    • Substitution: If you don’t have one of these spices, you can leave it out or try something similar (e.g. nutmeg for cinnamon or cardamom for ginger). Alternatively, feel free to use pumpkin pie spice, which is a blend of these ingredients.

Seasonings 

  • Celery Salt – This is a blend of salt and celery seed, which gives Old Bay its distinctly earthy celery flavor.
    • Substitution: Make your own with 1 ½ teaspoons salt + 1 teaspoon ground celery seeds.
  • Black Pepper – For a touch of heat in your fish seasoning. Make sure to freshly grind your black pepper for the best flavor. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, cut back on the amount.
  • White Pepper – This alternative to black pepper is lighter in both color, milder in flavor and offers subtle warmth.

Optional variations

While the classic Old Bay seasoning recipe is delicious as is, there are plenty of ways to mix things up and create your own unique variation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Citrusy: Adding some lemon or lime zest to the spice blend can give it a bright, citrusy flavor that’s perfect for seafood. Pro tip — rub the zest into the celery salt and let it sit overnight to dry out before adding the rest of your spices.
  • Garlicky: Adding garlic powder to the mix gives a delicious, savory twist to the original recipe.
  • Sweet: If you’re a fan of sweet and savory flavors, try adding a bit of brown sugar to the mix. This is especially delicious when used as a dry rub for pork.
  • Extra Smoky: Try using smoked salt mixed with celery seeds in place of regular celery salt to give your Old Bay substitute a lovely smoky undertone.
  • Herby: Adding some dried herbs like thyme, oregano, or basil to the mix is a great way to give your seafood rub even more depth of flavor.

Photo of the seasonings for old bay spice in a mixing bowl

How to make old bay seasoning 

This recipe for old bay seasonings is super easy to prepare! With basic pantry spices and 5 minutes, you can make flavorful old bay for shrimp, crab cakes, and more! Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Gather ingredients: Collect all your ingredients and measuring spoons.
  2. Mix spices: Add all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl. Then use a fork or whisk to thoroughly combine.
  3. Store or use old bay: Use your homemade substitution for old bay seasoning to add flavor to fish and seafood, meats, vegetables, beans, sauces, and more. Or transfer the old bay seasonings into a storage container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry dark place for a few months or up to a year if all your spices are brand new.

Expert tips for the best diy old bay

Wondering how the pros do it? Here are some of my favorite tips for making stellar seasoning blends like this old bay dry rub recipe at home:

  • Use high-quality spices: Since Old Bay is simply a blend of spices, the quality of each individual ingredient you use will affect the overall flavor. Make sure to use fresh spices (preferably no more than 6 months old) for the best results.
  • Grind your own spices: For the freshest, most flavorful Old Bay seasoning, consider grinding your own spices. Using whole spices not only extends their shelf life (they’ll last pretty much indefinitely before grinding), but also lets you control the texture of the spices in the blend.
  • Toast the spices: To bring out the flavors of the spices even more, consider toasting them in a dry skillet before grinding them to release their oils and give them a richer flavor.
  • Customize to your taste: The beauty of making your own Old Bay seasoning is that you can adjust the spices to your liking. Experiment with different flavor combinations until you find your perfect blend.
  • Label and date your container: Be sure to label your Old Bay seasoning container so you know what’s inside and when it was made. 
  • Store it properly. Use an airtight container and keep the seafood seasonings in a cool, dark cabinet for up to a year.

FAQs: old bay spice

What does Old Bay taste like?

Ahoy there, matey! Are ye ready to set sail on a flavor adventure? If ye haven’t tried homemade old bay seasoning yet, ye’re in for a treat! This magical blend of spices is like a party in yer mouth. It’s got a little bit of everything — a savory kick from the celery salt, a hint of floral notes from the bay leaves, and a zing of heat from the cayenne pepper. There’s even a touch of sweetness from the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice. 

It’s the perfect balance of flavors, making it great for seasoning all sorts of dishes (especially seafood, which is what it was originally made for). So hoist the anchor and set sail for flavor town with this homemade Old Bay seasoning substitute!

How much Old Bay per gallon of water?

The amount of Old Bay seasoning you’ll need will depend on both how strong you want the flavor to be and what you’re using it for. If you’re using it for a Louisiana-style crab boil, for example, I’d probably start with just 1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning per gallon of water. If you’re using it as a brine for your holiday turkey, I’d likely double that. 

Also, don’t forget to take into account the other flavors in whatever you’re cooking. For example, if you’re making seafood soup you’re probably going to use some sort of aromatic broth rather than just water. And if you’re using store-bought stock, it might already be seasoned with salt, which means you’d need less of the seasoning blend. At the end of the day, it all depends!

How long does homemade old Bay seasoning last?

As with most dried ground spices, you should aim to use up your homemade Old Bay within 6 months to a year for the best flavor.

Serving suggestions

Now that you’ve made a batch, you might be wondering how to use Old Bay spice blend in the kitchen. Not to worry! There are tons of ways to put this Old Bay seasoning recipe to good use. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with adding some of its unique flavor to all your favorite savory dishes. When it comes to Old Bay recipes, the possibilities are pretty much endless. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Seafood Dishes: Using Old Bay for fish is like using cream for your coffee — they just go together! Use it to season shrimp, crab cakes, lobster tails, salmon, or grilled seafood. You can also sprinkle it on top of seafood boils, use it as a crab seasoning, or use it to make a flavorful seafood stock.
  • Potatoes: Old Bay is great on roasted potatoes or french fries. Just toss the taters with some oil and sprinkle on the seasoning before roasting or frying.
  • Popcorn: Add a sprinkle of this homemade seasoning salt to spice up your movie night routine.
  • Meat Rubs: This savory seasoning makes a great meat rub for beef, pork, or chicken. It’s especially tasty on chicken wings, drumsticks, and pork chops.
  • Vegetables: Use it to add a pop of flavor to all sorts of vegetables, from roasted brussels sprouts or corn on the cob to sautéed greens and everything in between.
  • Bloody Marys: Use Old Bay seasoning to rim the glass of a Bloody Mary for an extra kick of flavor.
  • Deviled Eggs: Mix a little Old Bay seasoning into the filling of your deviled eggs or use a little sprinkle for garnish. 

Y’know, on second thought, you might wanna double up the recipe. 😉

Storing old bay seasoning recipe

  • Once you’ve made this homemade old bay seasoning recipe, decant it into an airtight glass container, label and date it, and store it in a cool, dark spice cabinet. It should last for 6 months to a year. 
  • Spices can lose their potency over time, so be sure to check your seafood seasoning for freshness every few months. If it no longer smells as strong or flavorful as it used to, it may be time to make a fresh batch.

Overhead photo of old bay seasonings in a glass storage jar.

Alright, friends! I hope this shell-abration of flavors has you hooked! With its unique blend of spices, this DIY Old Bay seasoning is sure to be a reel crowd-pleaser. So don’t be crabby — add homemade bay seafood seasonings to your pantry today and let the flavor adventure begin! After all, we’re all here to enjoy the bay-tter things in life, amirite? Until next time, cheers to adding a little pizzazz to your pantry.

Cheyanne

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More recipes for American DIY seasonings!

The best Homemade Old Bay Seasoning👇

Overhead photo of prepared old bay recipe in a glass storage jar.

Old Bay Seasoning Recipe

Total Time: 5 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 11 teaspoons
Homemade Old Bay Seasoning is a game-changer for any kitchen! Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but it also adds a burst of flavor to any dish it's added to. With just a few simple ingredients that are likely already in your spice cabinet, you can whip up your own batch of this beloved spice rub recipe in no time.
Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.

Equipment

  • 1 Measuring Spoons
  • 1 Small Bowl

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Gather Ingredients: Collect all your ingredients and measuring spoons.
  • Combine Spices: Add all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl. Then use a fork or whisk to thoroughly combine.
  • Store or Use Old Bay: Use to season fish and seafood, meats, vegetables, beans, and sauces. Or pour the homemade old bay seasoning into a storage container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry dark place for a few months or up to a year if all your spices are brand new.

Notes

  • Celery Salt Substitution: Replace the celery salt with 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt + 1 teaspoon ground celery seeds.
  • Ground Bay Leaves: You can find bay leaf powder at specialty grocery stores, or you can make it yourself by grinding bay leaves in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. Approximately 5 whole large bay leaves = 1 teaspoon powder.
  • Paprika: If you prefer your old bay spice on the spicy side, use hot paprika. If you are feeding more delicate palates, I recommend using sweet or regular paprika.
Nutritional information is an estimate based upon 11 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.

Nutrition

Calories: 4kcal    Carbohydrates: 1g    Protein: 0.2g    Fat: 0.2g    Saturated Fat: 0.02g    Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g    Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g    Sodium: 529mg    Potassium: 18mg    Fiber: 0.3g    Sugar: 0.1g    Vitamin A: 264IU    Vitamin C: 0.1mg    Calcium: 4mg    Iron: 0.2mg

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