Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (2024)

10 minutes

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5 from 7 votes

by Lisa Longley


posted: 08/19/21

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

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by Lisa Longley


posted: 08/19/21

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Jump to Recipe

This Homemade Old Bay Seasoning is easy to throw together! We have so many great recipes that uses this delicious seasoning mix.

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (2)

A few years ago, I went to Maryland and had the most amazing dinner. Small blue crabs that we cracked and ate at the table. They were coated in Old Bay Seasoning. We ate with our hands and the seasoning got on every piece of everything as we were eating in the most delicious way.

If you have never cooked with Old Bay Seasoning, it’s a must. This seasoning mix has been around for ages and is easy to pick up in U.S. grocery stores. We use it in a lot of our recipes. Recently we’ve gotten a lot of requests for a homemade version for those overseas or for people who need to control the exact amount of sodium in their diet.

This homemade Old Bay Seasoning went through several rounds of testing after lots of internet sleuthing to determine exactly what is in Old Bay Seaosning. My husband and I were standing at the counter tasting the store bought version and then making tweaks to ours until we got a version that was just right!

I think you will be really happy with what we’ve come up with!

Reader Review

Thank you for this recipe. After taste-testing five Old Bay recipes, this was our favorite – not too spicy, and not too salty. My daughter actually preferred yours to McCormick’s Old Bay. Well done!

What is Old Bay Seasoning?

Old Bay Seasoning is a mix of herbs and spices that was created in Baltimore, Maryland in the late 1930s. It’s name comes from a passenger ship line, Old Bay Line.

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (3)

Old Bay Seasoning Ingredients

Scroll to the bottom of the post to get the measurements of the different spices.

  • Celery Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Ground Bay Leaves (read more on this below)
  • Black Pepper
  • Ground Mustard
  • Ground Ginger
  • Ground Cloves
  • Cardamom
  • Coriander
  • Cinnamon – yes! Cinnamon!
Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (4)
Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (5)

Ground Bay Leaves

A key to this recipe is bay leaves. It is in the original and you don’t want to leave it out of the homemade version.

Most often when we cook with bay leaves, we put the entire leaf into a pot of soup while it is cooking and then remove them at the end. They leave their great flavor behind.

For this recipe, using ground bay is essential. You can either purchase it (we found this great brand online) or you can grind it yourself. Use a coffee grinder to grind the leaves fine and then use a metal sieve to filter out the stems and bigger pieces.

How to Make Old Bay Seasoning

To make Old Bay Seasoning, combine all the ingredients and mix them very well. Store the spice mix in a dry cool place for up to 6 months.

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (6)


Is Old Bay Seasoning spicy?

Yes! This seasoning mix has a kick to it. You can control that by putting in less black pepper, less cayenne pepper, or less of both.

How much Old Bay Seasoning should I use for shrimp?

Whether you are cooking shrimp or crab, the rule of thumb is 2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning per pound of seafood.

Does Old Bay Seasoning go bad?

Any seasoning mix can lose its flavor profile over time. If you make this with fresh dried herbs, it will last for at least 6 months.

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (7)

Using Old Bay Seasoning

Old Bay Seasoning for Crab

After making crab, coat it in Old Bay Seasoning. For every pound of crab you will need 2 teaspoons of this Old Bay Seasoning recipe.

Old Bay Seasoning for Steamed Shrimp

  1. Toss 1 pound of shrimp that has shells off but tails still on in 2 teaspoons of homemade Old Bay Seasoning.
  2. Bring 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of vinegar to a boil.
  3. Place the shrimp in a steaming basket over the boiling liquid (make sure it doesn’t touch the liquid).
  4. Cover and cook until the shrimp are tender, about 5 minutes.

Recipes that use Old Bay Seasoning

  • Crab Salad
  • Crab Dip
  • Shrimp Pasta Salad
  • Seafood Salad

If you make any of my recipes, leave me a comment letting me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (8)

5 from 7 votes

Old Bay Seasoning

Serves: 8 tablespoons

(tap # to scale)

Prep: 10 minutes minutes

Total: 10 minutes minutes

This Homemade Old Bay Seasoning is easy to throw together! We have so many great recipes that uses this delicious seasoning mix.

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  • 3 tablespoons celery salt
  • 4 teaspoons cayanne pepper
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground bay leaves read more about this here
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Combine all of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

Author: Lisa Longley

Course: Condiment

Cuisine: American

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (9)

did you make this

Old Bay Seasoning

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

you might also like . . .

  • Everything Bagel Seasoning
  • Hamburger Seasoning
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • Italian Seasoning

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (14)

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (15)


MEAL PLAN LIKE A BOSSdownload my free top 10 easy dinner ebook!

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (16)

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Judith says

    Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (17)
    Love your recipes! Thank you…


    • Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (18)Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you are enjoying them!


  2. Kathleen says

    Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (19)
    I made the Old Bay chicken wings last night. So easy and delicious! I think I’ll have to make more than 3 pounds next time. Wings were devoured very quickly!! Thank you!


    • Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (20)Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy to hear they were a hit!


  3. Karen Bernard says

    I want to use the Old Bay seasoning but I can’t have the spice what can you recommend?


    • Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (21)Lisa Longley says

      Which spice can’t you have? Or do you mean that you can’t have spicy food? In the FAQ it talks about how to cut back on heat.


older comments

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe (2024)


What can I use as a substitute for Old Bay seasoning? ›

Celery salt and paprika are two of the main ingredients in Old Bay seasoning. If you happen to have these spices in your cupboard, then you have a good substitute. When substituting, mix 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt with 1/4 teaspoon of paprika. Use this for every 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning.

What makes Old Bay seasoning so good? ›

Its bold, distinct flavor serves as a reliable, versatile seasoning for seafood and everything else. It is the key ingredient that brings dishes to life with an extra kick of unique, bold flavor anchored in salt, celery seed, paprika and mustard.

Does Old Bay have bay leaves in it? ›

While the exact ingredients are not revealed on the label or the brand's website, Old Bay reportedly has a mix of 18 spices. It has a complex savory flavor, with bay leaf, celery salt, dry mustard, and pepper at the forefront. Paprika and various other spices add depth and make this a well-rounded seasoning.

What happens if you use expired Old Bay seasoning? ›

Many store-bought spices list best-by dates, which indicate the time frame over which they'll retain the most potent flavor and quality (4). It's still generally safe to consume dried herbs and spices that are past their prime, although they won't add nearly as much flavor as their fresh counterparts.

Is there onion or garlic in Old Bay seasoning? ›

Still, this section of their site confirms that Old Bay contains ginger, bay leaves, mustard, cinnamon, and coriander. It also reveals that Old Bay does not contain onion, garlic, cumin, sesame, turmeric, sugar, starch, yeast, malt extracts, MSG, oregano, gluten, citrus, dairy, soy, tomato, or cilantro.

What is the main flavor in Old Bay? ›

Old Bay differs a good deal from the classic blend spices for cajun seafood which are salt, cayenne (red pepper) and garlic. Old Bay majors on celery salt, bay leaves, red and black pepper, and adds cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamon, cinnamon and paprika.

What's Old Bay seasoning made of? ›

According to the product label, some of the ingredients in Old Bay seasoning are celery salt, spices (including red pepper and black pepper) and paprika. Other potential spices may include bay leaf, cinnamon, mustard powder, nutmeg, clove and cardamom.

What makes Old Bay taste like Old Bay? ›

Most of the flavor comes from mustard, paprika and celery salt, along with mace, nutmeg, bay leaf, red pepper and cardamom, and while it's an obvious pairing with seafood, it's also a surprising twist on fried rice and chickpeas. Even now, I'm eating fistfuls of popcorn dusted with Old Bay.

Is Lawry's similar to Old Bay? ›

What's the Difference Between Lawry's vs Old Bay? While both Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Old Bay Seasoning are versatile spice blends, Lawry's is known for its savory and tangy flavor, suitable for a variety of dishes.

Does Old Bay have cinnamon in it? ›

Old Bay is a type of seasoning made from 18 different herbs and spices, including mustard, celery salt, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika, and bay leaves.

Does Old Bay have cloves in it? ›

Ingredients. Salt, Sugar, Paprika (16%), Mustard Flour (13.1%), Ground Celery Seed (12%), Black Pepper (3%), Cayenne Pepper, Bay Leaves, Cloves, Coriander Seed, Thyme, Basil, Anti-Caking Agent (Silicon Dioxide), Ground Nutmeg, Rosemary, Savory, Allspice.

What are 3 rules for seasoning? ›

How to Season Food
  • Rule #1: Taste as you go. It's a bummer when a finished dish is bland, and it's harder to correct at the end of cooking. ...
  • Rule #2: Stick to a theme. Certain flavours belong together. ...
  • Rule #3: Build layers of flavour. ...
  • Rule #4: Pair contrasting elements. ...
  • Rule #5: Salt, taste and repeat if necessary.

Is it cheaper to make your own seasonings? ›

You can save money by mixing your own DIY spice mixes from bulk spices. For commercial kitchens that use large quantities of spice blends, blending your own seasonings from whole or ground spices is an economical option.

What are the four basic seasonings? ›

There are four basic types of seasoning ingredients: • Salt • Pepper ⚫ Sugar and light-flavored sweeteners • Acids When you season a food, you add just enough of one or more of these ingredients to change the food's basic taste, but not enough to add a whole new taste.

Is paprika the same as Old Bay seasoning? ›

Substitute for Old Bay Seasoning

Since celery salt and paprika are two of the main ingredients in Old Bay seasoning, you could substitute 1/4 teaspoon celery salt and 1/4 teaspoon paprika for every teaspoon of Old Bay.

Can I substitute Creole seasoning for Old Bay? ›

Creole seasoning can also be a good Old Bay substitute if needed. Cajun seasoning blends are also a good alternative to Creole seasoning if you're looking for a more comparable flavor profile and have that in your spice cabinet.

What kind of salt is in Old Bay seasoning? ›

The main flavor of Old Bay Seasoning is celery salt and paprika—a bit of smoke, a bit of sweet, and plenty salty. Although many people seem to be wishing for an Old Bay recipe without the salt, well, it's really hard to deliver on that one.


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