Old Bay Seasoning Substitute

Old Bay Substitute

When I wanted to make my Crab Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers (how’s that for a teaser?!) I wanted to use some Old Bay Seasoning. Well, I have some at home (probably ancient – I DO live in the Midwest, after all so there’s not a lot of fresh seafood to use it on) but none here at the folks’ house. In the middle of nowhere. In South Dakota. It’s dry here, not to mention landlocked with very few lakes and most of those are reservoirs, so the local grocery store didn’t even have Old Bay. So I needed to whip up an Old Bay Substitute.

Old Bay Seasoning Substitute

Old Bay Seasoning Substitute



I could have run into the city, but that’s an ordeal, especially with the folks who are in their late 80’s and early 90’s, so I thought I’d try my hand at my own blend. Now I don’t have any Old Bay to do a side by side comparison, but I’m pretty pleased with the flavors. And while I can’t claim this is an EXACT copycat Old Bay Substitute recipe, I know it’s pretty close and one of the things about making your own blends is you can tweak them for a familiar taste with your own little spin. You can have your own proprietary, “signature” blend. How’s that for cache?!

About Old Bay Substitute:

If you’ve grown up around any coastal areas, you probably grew up with Old Bay Seasoning, and don’t think much of it beyond it’s delish on just about any kind of seafood you put it on. If you’ve never had Old Bay, you’re going to be surprised at all the big flavor in this Old Bay Substitute. It’s a wild crash of flavor, a cacophony of spices. And it’s incredible – just use a light hand!

So if you’re a big user of Old Bay Seasoning, what do you use it on? I’m pretty inspired by this article from Buzzfeed with 18 new ways to use Old Bay! I’ve even been inspired by them, and the New England Patriots who are Superbowl contenders this year (I’m doing a little updating February 2019) and last (that was 2018). I’m tossing out a recipe for Old Bay Oyster Crackers and they are surprisingly addictive!

You can bet, though, I’m going to be using my Old Bay Substitute on a few of those Buzzfeed suggestions. I’m thinking the Bloody Mary rimmed with Old Bay, maybe with a skewer that has a shrimp or two. Not too many since I’m frugal! And of course, I’ve already tried the popcorn but I’m going to try some on caramel popcorn next. Ya gotta know I’m a big fan of Freshly Popped Homemade Popcorn for a frugal snack.

Crab Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Crab Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Making Old Bay Substitute:

When I made my Old Bay Substitute, I went down the list of ingredients on the Old Bay can and tried to use a little common sense on the amounts. I think it turned out great.

When you make your Old Bay Substitute, you’re probably going to want to use a spice grinder, and that gives you the option to keep your Old Bay Substitute a little chunky like I did or break it down to a powder. I like the chunky; it keeps better, I think. If I want the Old Bay Substitute to be a powder, I can break it down more and it seems fresher than the what’s in the can.

I keep a lot of my spices, especially ones I don’t use often, in whole form. They retain their flavor longer, especially if kept in a cool, dark cupboard. The whole spices I used are celery seed, allspice, and cardamom. And the bay leaves!

At home, I have a small coffee grinder I use, and I keep it just for spices so flavors don’t transfer to the morning coffee. Today, I used the coffee grinder my Step Sister uses – sorry Sis! I feel bad but it was for a good cause! Grinders aren’t easy to clean, but grind up a little bread (use the heels if you don’t eat them) and then tap out the grinder. It might take more than one go. Then wipe everything down with a damp cloth or paper towel and let air dry.

Old Bay Seasoning Substitute

Old Bay Seasoning Substitute

Saving Money on Old Bay Substitute:

I shop carefully for my ingredients and the ingredients for Old Bay Substitute are no exception. I go through a fair amount of spices so it makes a difference. I check the buyer’s clubs like Sam’s or Costco and might even find them in the produce department in bags, the discount area of the store or the dollar stores. Sometimes, if I really don’t think I’ll use a spice or herb again, I’ll buy just what I need from the bulk aisle if I’m at a store that has one.

I always keep my eye open in the spring when McCormicks often has coupons and Catalinas and restock my spices. A Catalina is when you buy so many items and a coupon spits out with a dollar amount to save on your next shopping trip. Pay attention to those slips that spit out with your receipts; they’ll notify you of Catalinas and so will your coupon matching sites if you use a good one. There’s more money saving tips and a lot more rubs and spice blends on my post for Spice, Herb or Flavor Packet Substitutes Post.

Old Bay Seasoning Substitute

Old Bay Seasoning Substitute

Old Bay Seasoning

  • Servings: abt 3 tablespoons
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (use less if using table salt)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon bay leaves (this took about 7 or so leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Good pinch of cinnamon

Grind whole spices, mix all spices together. Store in a small, airtight jar away from the light. Makes about 3 tablespoons.


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And, as I do almost every Friday, I’ll be linking up to Angie’s Fiesta Friday  – this is Number 136, hosted this week by Judi of Cooking with Aunt Juju. Be sure to stop by Saucy Saturdays, too, my fave Saturday party place!

29 thoughts on “Old Bay Substitute

      • I know JUST what you mean about the midwest – I remember hearing all about Chipotle pepper, Panko and any number of ingredients we couldn’t get here w/o a heck of a lot of searching anyway, long before they were in the store! But then, every time I’m in a really big city, it’s such a relief to come home! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  1. You know Mollie, yours in much healthier. I have never read the ingredient list on Old Bay, but it probably has anti-caking agents… I love making my own spice blends. This will be pinned! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you. It looks like a good recipe. I don’t have any Old Bay in the house either and have omitted it in the past from recipes that call for it. I keep intending to make some. 🙂

  3. This looks very good Mollie! I love to get recipes for different spice blends and this one looks very different than any blend I have used before so i am pinning it for trying out sometime. Does this go well with seafood only?

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