You may know Old Bay seasoning best as an indispensable ingredient in a classic crawfish boil or crab cakes with a lovely lemon sauce. But who said it’s exclusively the domain of seafood? Go on. Shake the seasoning on everything else…

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Why Our Testers Loved This

The testers are sprinkling this on everything they can find, and for good reason. They loved that this homemade Old Bay spice blend tastes authentic yet doesn’t contain preservatives. Many of them look forward to adding this to their arsenal of homemade food gifts to share with friends and family.

Brenda C. “enjoyed the freshness of the homemade version, which was well-rounded and complete.” Hubba, hubba!

What You’ll Need to Make This

Five glass bowls containing all of the spices required to make Old Bay seasoning.
  • Celery salt–Made from a combination of ground celery seed and salt, this contributes plenty of saltiness to the Old Bay-style seasoning blend. Keep this in mind when seasoning your food, as it may not need any additional salt.
  • Paprika–This spice, made from ground red peppers, adds depth of flavor to the spice blend. We recommend regular paprika here.
  • Ground mace–This is ground from the outer coating of the nutmeg seed. You can substitute ground nutmeg if necessary.

How to Make This Recipe

A glass bowl with the spices for homemade Old Bay seasoning in it and a person using a spoon to mix them all together.
  1. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl.
  2. Stir until thoroughly combined. Transfer to an airtight jar or container and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

Common Questions

How long will Old Bay Seasoning keep?

Like most spice blends, it will keep for up to 6 months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Given the options listed above, we doubt it will last you anywhere near that long.

When and where did Old Bay seasoning originate?

The original Old Bay seasoning blend was created in 1940 by Gustav Brunn, a German spice maker who came to the US as a Jewish refugee during World War II.

The spice blend was created in Maryland and was originally sold under the name Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning, before being changed to Old Bay Seasoning. The rights to the spice blend were purchased by McCormick in 1990.

What Can I Do With Old Bay Seasoning?

– Mixed into crab cakes, natch
– Sprinkled on sweet corn on the cob
– 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 seafood gumbo
– Stirred into Spanish gazpacho
– Strewn atop a baked potato
– Dusted daintily over naan
– Stirred into egg salad without mayo
– Rubbed on grilled fish that’s destined to be wrapped up in soft corn tortillas (that is to say, grilled fish tacos)
– Melded into hot crab dip
– Tossed with homemade popcorn
– Whisked into egg white omelets
– Swirled into seafood soups and stews
– Whirled into homemade 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 breakfast 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

Helpful Tips

  • For the most potent flavor, grind your own spices. Always measure the spices after grinding.
  • If you plan on using this seasoning mix frequently, double or triple the recipe.
  • If you prefer to be more precise in your measurements, a “pinch” can be measured as 1/16 of a teaspoon.
  • Store the spice blend in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.


There are several great reasons to make your own homemade Old Bay seasoning. You can whip up as big or small a batch as you like, depending on how frequently you use it. You can also adjust the seasoning and blend of spices to accommodate your personal preferences, allergies, or dietary needs.

More Great Seasoning Blend Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

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

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning

4.79 / 51 votes
This Old Bay seasoning recipe 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. Anything, really.
David Leite
Servings2 tablespoons
Calories7 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes



  • 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.


  1. Scale up the recipe–If you plan on using the spice blend frequently, double or triple the recipe.
  2. Storage–Old Bay seasoning should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 2 months.
  3. Grind your spices–For the strongest flavor, grind your own spices. Always measure the spices after grinding.
  4. Measuring a “pinch”–If you prefer to be more precise in your measurements, a “pinch” can be measured as 1/16 of a teaspoon.
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Serving: 1 tablespoonCalories: 7 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 0.2 gFat: 0.4 gSaturated Fat: 0.1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2 gSodium: 3489 mgFiber: 0.4 gSugar: 0.1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 Todd Wilbur. Photos © 2021 David Leite. All rights reserved.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    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 welcome, Peter. And I know the feeling of eating 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.

  2. 5 stars
    Tried the recipe…was a close comparison to old Bay! I decided rather than buying all of the last six ingredients again to refresh my old ones I bought a 1.75oz container of McCormick pickling spice…it has most of the last six ingredients.I ground the whole bottle into a powder in my spice mill…omitted the last six and just added a teaspoon of ground pickling spice…It was spot on!!!Very good spiced shrimp!

  3. Once I finish my current can, I will definitely try this. Old Bay is one of those store-bought items I could not cook without, and it would be great to be able to make it. One of my favorite uses in in the white sauce base for macaroni and cheese. But I consider it an all-purpose seasoning.

    BTW: if you buy it, unless you never, ever use salt, DO NOT buy the low-sodium version! It’s almost impossible to attain the correct balance of salt to spices if you have to add your own. Which leads to a question: If I don’t have celery salt, what measures of salt and celery seed should I use?

    1. Suzanne, hope you enjoy this. As fas as the correct balance of salt and celery seed, I can’t tell you. We didn’t test it that way. Just as you said not to mess with the low-sodium version, I’d suggest not trying to make your own celery salt. The variable are too great. I’ve seen 2 tablespoons ground celery seed to 2 tablespoons kosher salt. I’ve also seen 2 tablespoons celery seeds to 1 tablespoon kosher salt. You get the picture.