What’s A Good Old Bay Seasoning Substitute?

Do you have a recipe that calls for Old Bay and you have none in-house? Or are you just not a fan of Old Bay, and you’re looking for an Old Bay seasoning substitute with a slightly different flavor? Luckily, you have options either way.

Make a homemade Old Bay substitute

You can craft a similar heat and taste from spices in a well-stocked spice rack. The primary ingredients in Old Bay are known because of its packaging: celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and paprika.

The other ingredients fall under the very generic label of “spices” on the ingredients list. Old Bay seasoning is though to include a mix of some (or all) of the following: cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, mustard, nutmeg, bay leaf, and cardamom. You may not have all of these around, but even a few of them mixed together can create a comparable taste. Be prepared to play with proportions to get the right flavor for you.

–> Try our recipe: Homemade Old Bay Seasoning

Again, it may not be perfect, but just a few of these spices together will work in a pinch as a substitute.

A simpler “basic” option: Mix celery salt and paprika

This option is for those who only have the most basic of spices in their kitchens. We omit adding in any of the more exotic spices listed above. Instead, we simplify it to two that are at the center of Old Bay and very common in even the most basic spice rack.

Equal parts celery salt and sweet paprika is a good place to start. Adjust from there to taste. Of course, with this alternative, you lose a lot of the flavor depth within Old Bay. But, depending on your need, you may not notice it. And, frankly, with a bare spice rack, it may be your best “in a pinch” alternative.

Note: You could opt to use celery seed (crushed) instead of celery salt if you’re looking for a no-salt alternative here.

Seasoning alternatives: Cajun or Creole seasonings

Both of these seasonings use many of the same ingredients as Old Bay, just in different proportions. So they taste, of course, different. They won’t have that same “crab boil” flavor you expect. But, they can work in many of the same recipes when you’re in need. Just note, both Cajun and Creole seasoning can be spicier than the warming heat in Old Bay.

–> Learn More: Old Bay Vs. Cajun Seasoning

If you have it (and in a pinch): Seasoned salt

Seasoned salt will also have some of the same ingredients as Old Bay. After all, it’s simple a seasoned salt – a mix of salt with herbs and spices to bring spice depth to a dish. Seasoned salt will often contain paprika, but not always. Black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper are other common ingredients. Check the back of the label to see what you’re dealing with. You can also make your own versions by simply mixing salt with various herbs and spices.

Overall seasoned salt is a safe Old Bay alternative, but it doesn’t have the same panache as the famous crab seasoning. It’s typically missing the bolder flavors that make it special. Still, in a pinch, it can work.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on April 22, 2022 to include new content.
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