old bay seasoning substitute

Top 6 Substitutes For Old Bay Seasoning For Your Favorite Seafood Delicacies

Nothing is better than a good crab cake in the summer, or perhaps, you’re more of a lobster bake person. Maybe you enjoy Old Bay seasoning in salads, meats, fish, and potatoes equally.

There are some cases in which this seasoning doesn’t go well, so knowing what alternatives to choose can be a good idea. You certainly don’t want your recipe to turn out bland or outright wrong, so keep the items in this list in mind next time.

What Is Old Bay Seasoning?

Old Bay seasoning is a mix of herbs and spices originally from Baltimore, Maryland. This seasoning blend contains black pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika, and celery salt. In some cases, it can also include cinnamon, cardamom, mace, ginger, and cayenne pepper.

While this seasoning is common in many dishes, including fried chicken, crab, shrimp, French fries, potato salad, potato chips, chowder, and eggs, nowadays, Old Bay seasoning is even part of cocktails, such as a bloody Mary.

The flavor of this mix is a bit hot, peppery, and a bit earthy, though the celery salt comes through as well.

Why Replace Old Bay Seasoning?

Some people should replace Old Bay seasoning for various reasons. Here are some common ones:

  • Allergy: Since the Old Bay seasoning mix contains a lot of spices, some people could have an allergic reaction to some of these. Allergies to paprika, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and ginger are common. In this case, a person should avoid any food that contains these ingredients.
  • Flavor: For some, Old Bay seasoning can be too strong, and slightly hot. The flavor can ruin the rest of the food for them, so using other ingredients may be best.
  • Accessibility: In some areas, Old Bay seasoning may not be very common, so finding an alternative is necessary.

What Can I Replace Old Bay Seasoning With?

If this mix is too strong or hard to find, then you certainly need these Old Bay seasoning substitutes handy:

Best For Shrimp, Salmon, and Fish

#1. Cajun Seasoning

This is the perfect Old Bay seasoning replacement as it has a similar flavor, but it is a bit spicier. This seasoning mix has a very bold, spicy flavor from the paprika and cayenne pepper, as well as a hint of onion powder, garlic, and other herbs.

Cajun seasoning is commonly used in Cajun food, such as shrimp, salmon, fish dishes, and gumbo.

You can replace Old Bay seasoning with the same amount of Cajun seasoning, but keep in mind that this choice is hotter and could be too strong for some people. If you feel like a bit of celery flavor is needed, add a little bit of celery salt.

#2. Seasoned Salt

Seasoned salt refers to the mix of salt, herbs, and flavoring. This ingredient is commonly sold to flavor things like fish, chips, and vegetables. You can use seasoned salt when preparing shrimp, salmon, fish, and potato dishes.

Remember that the main ingredient in this choice is salt, so you should adjust the salt in your dish. We suggest you add only about half the amount of what the recipe calls for, otherwise, the recipe may turn out too salty.

#3. Paprika + Celery Salt

Paprika and celery salt is a homemade version that is a good alternative to Old Bay seasoning. All you need is about ¼ teaspoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon celery salt for every one teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning in your recipe.

You can also add more spice if you like, such as black pepper or cayenne pepper.

Use this mix when you prepare things like salmon, chowder, potato salad, and shrimp. You should know that paprika has a deep red color that can alter the final aspect of your dish.

See More: Paprika Substitutes

Best For Crab Legs, Chicken, and Seafood

#4. Chili Powder + Garlic Powder + Celery Salt

When you want a bit of spice and pungency, then chili powder, garlic powder, and celery salt are the right choice for you. We suggest you use ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon celery salt for every one teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning.

Remember that chili powder is also spicy, so you may want to try it before adding it. 

You can use this mix when you prepare chicken, seafood, stews, and potato dishes. If you find that the chili powder flavor is too strong, consider reducing the amount and adding more of the other ingredients instead.

See More: Chili Powder Alternatives

#5. Chinese Five-Spice

Chinese Five-Spice is a mixture of five or more spices, usually cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and peppercorns. The flavor of this ingredient is more earthy and warm than Old Bay seasoning, but it can work well in some cases.

Add Chinese five spices to your chicken, crab legs, and any seafood dish.

While this choice isn’t very common either, if you do happen to have an Asian food market or section at your grocery store, then you will find this. For a bit more acid and herbal flavor, you can add dry parsley and celery salt.

#6. DIY Old Bay Seasoning Recipe

As with other seasonings, if you have the right ingredients and the time, you can make Old Bay seasoning at home.

Here’s how to make old bay seasoning: You will need celery salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and ginger. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, making sure they combine thoroughly.

After the ingredients are combined, simply transfer the mix to an airtight container. You can use your homemade Old Bay for a few months as long as you store it in a cool, dark place.


Can I use creole seasoning instead of Old Bay?

If you happen to live in an area that sells creole seasoning, then you can use it instead of Old Bay. For the most part, they have the same ingredients, except creole seasoning doesn’t include mace or cardamom. However, you can add these spices for a very similar flavor.

What does Old Bay seasoning taste like?

The flavor of salt and celery are the first things you will notice when you try Old Bay seasoning, but you can also feel some heat and a peppery aftertaste. Some people even notice a bit of acid come through.

Does Old Bay seasoning contain MSG?

For the most part, the commercial brand of Old Bay seasoning states that there is no Monosodium glutamate (MSG) in their products. Other brands may have different additives, so always check before you buy it.


Even though not everyone has tried Old Bay seasoning before, it is a very important part of certain foods, particularly those containing seafood.

If you can’t seem to find it or want to try another thing, then these six options will do the trick. You can always mix and match as well to create something more to your taste.

old bay seasoning replacement

*image by depositphotos.com/Iuliia

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