What’s Bell’s Seasoning?

What’s Bell’s seasoning explains the classic Thanksgiving spice blend that’s a must in the Northeast US. David Leite talks to us about why it’s so essential.

What is Bell's Seasoning?

Recently, I was gobsmacked—just gobsmacked, I tell you—when I mentioned Bell’s Seasoning to the LC staff. They all just looked at me. Dumbstruck. Bewildered. Confused.

They’d never heard of it.

When they asked what it was, all I could do was keep repeating, “Bell’s Seasoning.”

To me, Bell’s Seasoning is something so essential to Thanksgiving cooking, it defies definition. Or so I thought. Apparently, if you’re not a born and bred Yankee, Bell’s (that’s what we locals call it) might be unfamiliar. It has always been so elemental, so ubiquitous, so foundational to my turkey and stuffing, it’s one of a handful of entities known only by a first name, like Cher, Diana, Bette, Madonna, and Christ.

And it’s something you NEED to know for Thanksgiving.

What is Bell’s Seasoning?

Bell’s Seasoning is a poultry seasoning mix–a unique blend of herbs and spices concocted by William G. Bell in Boston in 1867. It consists of ground rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, marjoram, thyme, and pepper.

Is Bell’s Seasoning gluten-free?

Yes. And not only that, it’s vegan. Plus it contains no salt, preservatives, additives, or artificial ingredients. Clearly, Mr. Bell was waaaay ahead of his time.

What can I use Bell’s Seasoning on?

The better question is, what can’t I use it on? Of course, the first stop on Thanksgiving Day is the turkey. A generous sprinkling into a small bowl of melted butter is all you need to create an herbaceous baste for your bird. But don’t stop there. It’s great in stuffing–especially old-fashioned sausage stuffings such as Homemade Cornbread Sausage Dressing or Sourdough Dressing with Sausage and Prunes. And it wouldn’t be out of place in my godmother Dina’s Potato Dressing. It’s even pretty awesome in pumpkin soup and in that much-needed Bloody Mary just before the in-laws arrive for the holiday weekend.

Where can I buy Bell’s Seasoning?

If you live in the Northeast, you know where to get it. (In fact, I’ll bet dollars to Dunkin’ Donuts you already have a box in your cupboard.) If you visit the Northeast, I’m pretty sure you know where to snag a box, too. For the rest of you, allow me to rock your world. Originally published November 5, 2019.

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Comments

  1. I grew up in Illinois and we used it. I was in New Mexico for thanksgiving fixing Thanksgiving dinner for family, no Bells any where, found ingredients on the internet and made a reasonable facsimile, will have to keep a box in my suitcase.

    1. I live in NM. No one seems to have heard of Bell’s. I’m from New England. A friend sent 4 boxes a while ago. I’m down to my last box. Ordered it from Amazon.

    2. You should be a spokesperson for Bell’s, Cheryl. You know it’s good stuff when you’re planning to pack it in your suitcase!

    1. Charles, I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s not our product, but a recommendation. I would return it. Clearly, it was an old package. The seasoning mix is very fragrant.

  2. Well, how’s that for a memory!

    I haven’t thought about that in 50 years but that photo snapped me right back to my childhood in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

    I’m in SoCal now and I suppose I’d have a hard time coming up with Bell’s if I had to. But the truth is when I cooked my first Thanksgiving turkey it was for my then boyfriend’s family shortly after his mother died. I had NO idea what I was doing but I thought Simon and Garfunkel must have known something I didn’t so I got some parsley, some sage, some rosemary and some thyme and did what I could with them. Happily, one of their neighbors kindly talked me through the rest while she was getting her own dinner on the table.

    It all turned out well enough and I may have refined my timing and added some touches but “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” worked for me then and works now. Still, I think that’s the exact same illustration from my childhood and it sure brings back memories I haven’t thought about in half of forever!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that memory with us, Rainey. It’s truly incredible how powerful food memories can be. Even without Bell’s, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

      1. You’re absolutely right because I’m sure if I wanted to I could bring back the memory of the aroma of Bell’s as well.

          1. Dear Angie and everyone else the fresh market from North to the south and they pay taxes why give it to Amazon who is exempt from paying those taxes all of there stones

  3. Being a Jersey girl I grew up using it, and still use it to this day. Like you, I never realized it wasn’t available nationwide. One of the best things to happen to poultry, pork, stuffing and who knows what else you can use it on or in.

    1. We’ve heard so many others echo your sentiment, Jill. Makes you glad you’ve got access to it, right?

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