Top 8 Old Bay Seasoning Alternative

Top 8 Old Bay Seasoning Alternative

Old bay seasoning is the choice of every food lover. Originally used as a flavor additive for seafood, the old bay is now used for other purposes like flavoring stew, chicken, or salad. Its sweet, spicy, and salty flavor mix 18 herbs. But its packaging tells only a few ingredients.

Old bay seasoning is a famous product, but if you run out of it or can’t find it in your nearby stores, alternatives are always available. You can either try making a copy of old bay seasoning at home or try the list of substitutes given by us.

Old bay seasoning

Invented by Gustav Brunn, old bay seasoning is a mix of 18 herbs involving red chili flakes,  paprika, black pepper, and celery salt. It’s a readymade product to add flavor to your meat, salad, seafood, soup, and chowder. Its savory, sweet, and spicy flavor hit your tastebuds in the right place.

The makers say it consists of 18 herbs but only mentions a few ingredients and hide the rest. If you want to play hidden treasure, try finding the secret ingredients of old bay seasoning.

Old bay seasoning has no MSG (monosodium glutamate) and is Kosher. MSG is a common food additive, but it’s not present in Old bay seasoning. If you have food allergies, you should always check the food labels. Allergens are always mentioned on all food labels.

Why need a substitute?

There are a number of reasons you might need old bay alternatives. It might be because you ran out of your old bay seasoning and don’t have time to run to the store. Or you did go to the grocery store but couldn’t find any old bay seasoning there.

Old bay seasoning keeps changing its ingredients, and some people are allergic to some ingredients. So if you’re allergic to any one of the ingredients but like the taste of this famous seasoning, then you should try its substitutes. However, you should always check the ingredients you’re allergic to before consuming anything.

Here are 8 old bay seasoning alternatives

Old bay is a simple mixture of many herbs. So if you don’t have old bay seasoning, then no issues; you can always use the below alternatives. Though you don’t know exactly the ingredients, the taste might be similar.

1. Paprika and celery salt

The two main ingredients in old bay seasoning are paprika and celery salt. The combination of these two makes a great alternative if you have these in your kitchen.

You will have to take ¼ teaspoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon celery salt to make a mixture. Use this amount for 1 teaspoon old bay seasoning. You can use two pinches of black pepper or one pinch of red chili flakes to get a spicy flavor.

this is a bay seasoning alternative

2. Paprika and celery seeds

Another popular alternative to old bay seasoning is paprika and celery seeds. If you want to restrict sodium intake, celery seeds are better than celery salt. The USDA states that only 3.2 mg of sodium is present in a full teaspoon of celery seeds.

However, without celery salt, you might not be able to enjoy the full flavor of old bay seasoning. To get a flavor closer to old bay seasoning, you will also have to add other herbs such as pepper, crown mustard, garlic powder, and onion powder.

3. Cajun seasoning

Cajun seasoning has ingredients similar to old bay seasoning, including celery salt, paprika, and pepper. The mixture can be quite different, but we can say that it’s the best alternative to old bay seasoning.

There’s no such specific amount to use of cajun seasoning. Just use the same amount you would take for old bay seasoning. However, cajun seasoning tends to be a bit spicier than old bay seasoning, so use it according to your taste.

Cajun seasoning originated in Louisiana, but you can it in most grocery stores in the U.S. and other parts of the world. It has a bold flavor, just like old bay seasoning.

Though Cajun seasoning also doesn’t have any calories or nutrients, it has 130 mg of sodium/serving as per USDA.

4. Crab boil

Grab all your patience and energy as this alternative is not used like cajun seasoning. But the final item tastes just like old bay.

Crab boil is generally used in common fish dishes like lobsters, shellfish, crabs, among others. You can find crab boil in stores, but you can quickly make it at home using bay leaves, cilantro seeds, cayenne pepper, allspice, dill seed, and mustard seed.

All you need is the right resources and time to make crab boil. You can use the same amount of crab boil as you would use old bay seasoning, or you could simply use it according to your taste.

5. Celery salt, garlic powder, and chili powder

If you want a delicious alternative to old bay seasoning, then these three ingredients are the ones for you. When combined chili powder, garlic powder, and celery salt, you get this magical flavor that makes you say mmmm!

Add ¼ teaspoon of every ingredient for one teaspoon of old bay seasoning. You can use this combination to get the flavor in seafood and chicken. It can also be used in dishes like stews.

this is a meat and salt

6. Chinese spices (5)

The bold mixture of 5 Chinese spices includes fennel, Szechuan peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. The taste can be a little sweeter than old bay seasoning, so you can use it if you’re fond of sweet. It’s a tasty combination of spices and herbs that makes your dishes taste delicious, just like old bay does.

This is a great combination to use in seafood and poultry. This alternative is quite tricky to get, but if you’re lucky enough, your grocery store sells it, or you live near an Asian food market. So you can use it various times.

7. Pickling spice

There are so many seasoning options to add to seafood, and pickling spice is one of them. It’s a great alternative to old bay seasoning and can be easily found in several grocery stores. The spice is a mixture of cloves, ginger, red pepper flakes, cilantro seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, and allspice.

Or you can simply make pickling spice at home. However, buying each ingredient separately can cost you a little more money than buying the spice. However, the amount is the same as old bay, so use it according to the recipe.

8. Seasoned salt

Seasoned salt is inexpensive and can be easily purchased from a grocery store. Seasoned salt is not just salt, but it includes herbs and other ingredients. It may not taste exactly like an old bay, but it’s a great alternative to use in dishes old bay is used.

It’s a very common seasoning item used to flavor fries, vegetables, and fish. You can try seasoning popcorn with seasoned salt also. As the name says, salt is the main ingredient, so if you use it too much, the taste of the food can change. If you’ve already added salt while making the dish, it would be better to use the seasoning less. Or you can use regular salt less or completely replace it with seasoned salt.

DIY Old bay seasoning

Though nobody has revealed all of the 18 ingredients of old bay, the main ingredients have been found. The main ingredients are the ones that bring the real flavor; others just add a little flavor. This DIY old bay seasoning will probably not exactly like a real old bay, but we tried keeping the taste really close to the original one.

The list of ingredients is long, but the flavor is worth it.

  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Celery salt
  • Black pepper
  • Allspice
  • Dry mustard
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom

 ¼ teaspoon of each ingredient would be great, but for those who don’t like too much spice, you guys can take a pinch of cayenne, and the rest quantity of the ingredients would be the same. We think that you should keep trying different mixtures and find out the one you like the best.


Old bay seasoning is the perfect way to bring extra flavor to your already delicious recipes or make dull recipes bright (by taste). This mixture of natural herbs makes it a top choice among many chefs. And it’s not a serious problem that you don’t have or can’t get hold of old bay seasoning at the moment. There are always alternatives like the ones we mentioned.

Or you can just make an old bay seasoning by yourself. Both of the options are easy if you’ve arranged all the ingredients. It might take you some time to find out what combination of spices and herbs works best for you, but once you’ve found it, we’re sure you’re not going to regret it.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top