Homemade Old Bay Seasoning

Old Bay seasoning is a blend of celery salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and other spices that are exactly what you want to sprinkle on shrimp, crab boil, fish, fries, chicken…heck, you can dump this homemade spice blend on anything, really.

A hand sprinkling homemade Old Bay Seasoning in a small glass bowl

You may know Old Bay seasoning best as an indispensable ingredient in a crawfish or shrimp boil. And that’s not inaccurate. But it’s so simpleminded to think of it exclusively in the domain of seafood. Go on. Shake the seasoning on everything else…–Renee Schettler

What can I use Old Bay seasoning with?

Mixed into crab cakes, natch
Sprinkled on sweet corn
Shaken or stirred into a Bloody Mary
Dumped on fries
Incorporated into the flour for dredging pan-fried fish or pan-fried chicken
Dumped into gumbo
Stirred into gazpacho
Strewn atop a baked potato
Dusted daintily over naan
Stirred into egg salad
Rubbed on grilled fish that’s destined to be wrapped up in soft corn tortillas (that is to say, fish tacos)
Melded into hot crab dip
Tossed with popcorn
Whisked into egg white omelets
Swirled into seafood soups and stews
Whirled into tartar sauce
Dissolved in a brine for pork or poultry
Sprinkled in bread crumbs for, well, just about anything
Mashed into deviled eggs
Injected into chicken or turkey
Mixed into the coating for onion rings
Heaped on homemade potato chips
Added to mayo for a quick dip
Mashed with butter, garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano and slathered on warm bread
Rubbed between the meat and skin of a hen prior to roasting
Sprinkled on homemade tortilla chips as they’re pulled from the oil
Tossed with oven fries
Added to stuffing or, if you prefer, dressing (and we’re quite certain you know the difference between them…right?)
Combined with hummus
Strewn on crawfish anything
And, if you live in Maryland, lavished on just about everything else you can think to eat

A hand sprinkling homemade Old Bay Seasoning in a small glass bowl

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning

  • Quick Glance
  • (8)
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Makes 2 tablespoons
5/5 - 8 reviews
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Stir together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer to a container of some sort that has a tight-fitting lid—a glass jar with a screw-top lid works spectacularly.

Set aside in a cool, dark place and use within a couple months. Originally published August 28, 2012.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Oddly enough, I actually prefer this Old Bay seasoning mix to the actual store-bought Old Bay. Could not figure out what it was about it that made me prefer this one, perhaps the quality of the spices. We used it on shrimp that we grilled and on fried calamari and loved them both.

Seasoning blends like this are a lot of fun to make and taste. This recipe yielded 1 3/4 tablespoons, which doesn’t go far. Next time I’d at least double it. This blend was used on roasted baby potatoes as well as on grilled shell-on shrimp.

As I had a tin of Old Bay on hand, I compared the two and found there to be more depth in the original tin; however, I enjoyed the freshness of the homemade version, which was well-rounded and complete. The two tasted vaguely similar, but I wouldn’t call this recipe Old Bay necessarily…perhaps just Darned Good Blend. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices and I’m happy to use it whenever possible. What I’d like to try is adding some crushed cacao beans to this recipe and rubbing it on beef.


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  1. I am looking for the old recipe that used to be on the Old Bay can for shrimp – just water, vinegar and old bay, just don’t remember amounts.

  2. According to several other sites Old Bay has a blend of 18 different herbs and spices where you only have 11. I’ll let you know the outcome.

  3. Speaking of fresh, I just got this wonderful little kitchen toy for manually grinding whole spices in small, recipe-sized amounts. https://www.thegrommet.com/products/zassenhaus-cast-iron-spice-grinder?pmodal=3&gclid=CjwKCAjwiMj2BRBFEiwAYfTbCgknnBf7vVCpFUBZk-5xBWAogNPso08yn8fDzlM2SxuZMu8N3SkLNRoCgykQAvD_BwE Another way to have the freshest at hand without having to put 1/4 cup of seeds in a coffee grinder.

    If anyone has a mind to try it, I’ve found it works most efficiently if you set the wooden lid aside while you do your grinding.

    1. I shared that one because I have an entire collection of small mortars and pestles in various configurations and made from various materials. Nothing I’d bought previously did the job. This cast iron one reduces seeds to useable powder like mad! I won’t worry about biting directly into a chili seed again.

  4. Thanks so much for this and I welcome all the mixed-up-at-home spice blends you’ve got!

    I think it’s infinitely better to mix up a small amount that gets used up and, thereby, store fewer spices, use them faster and maintain them fresher.

    I look forward to trying this.

  5. I’m from the UK and discovered old bay on the banks of the Chesapeake whilst visiting friends out there five years ago whilst eating our own body weight of blue legged crab with old bay piled on. Delicious!!! For health reasons now, however, I’ve had to become vegan. Knowing what your recipe is now – I will indeed make my own. Thank you.

    1. You’re so very welcome, Peter. And I know exactly the feeling of consuming one’s own weight in crabs with Old Bay, all of it washed back with beer. It’s a reminder that life is good. Thank you for letting us know this is a keeper for you!

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