10 Best Old Bay Seasoning Substitutes (Try These First)

It was in college and my roommate made some shrimp scampi. The dish was amazing and I was blown away by the flavor.

Ever since then, old bay has been a staple in my kitchen. The challenge came when I moved and could no longer find old bay seasoning at the store.

After panicking for a while, I took it as an opportunity to be innovative.

I tried a few different things and failed a number of times before finding the perfect old bay substitutes.

The first thing I tried didn’t work well because the flavors were too strong and didn’t taste anything like old bay.

I then tried another substitute. This worked better but was still missing a key ingredient.

I finally found the perfect substitutes. This saved me the heartache of having no seafood. Today, I’ll share everything I’ve learned in this article.

Keep reading!

Old Bay Seasoning Substitutes:

  1. Crab Boil
  2. Celery Seed + Paprika
  3. Todd’s Dirt
  4. Chinese Five Spice
  5. French Four Spice
  6. Celery Salt + Paprika
  7. Pickling Spice
  8. Cajun Seasoning
  9. Seasoned salt
  10. Homemade Old Bay Seasoning

Crab Boil

This is a great substitute for old bay seasoning. It’s made by boiling water and adding crab, shrimp, and other spices. The resultant boil has old bay’s familiar herbs and spice flavor, but it’s also a little sweet and smoky.

Crab boil is nearly the same thing as old bay seasoning, making it a great replacement in any dish. It is used to season the water when boiling shellfish, crawfish, lobster, or crabs.

It contains ingredients found in old bay seasoning like celery seed, paprika, chili pepper, and clove. So, you only need to add it to your dish at a ratio of 1:1. Crab boil may also enhance the spiciness and sweetness of your dish.

It is easy to find in most grocery stores, making it a convenient substitution for old bay seasoning.

Celery Seed and Paprika

A teaspoon of celery seed, which has approximately 2 milligrams of salt, contains just 3.2 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA. Therefore, celery seed and paprika may be a reasonable substitute for old bay seasoning if you’re trying to limit your sodium intake.

However, it’s important to note that these two spices will not provide the same flavor as old bay seasoning. If you’re looking for a more similar flavor, you’ll need to add other herbs and spices to the mix, such as ground mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.

But if you’re just looking to cut down on sodium, celery seed and paprika may be a good substitute. Just remember that you might need to add a little extra flavor with additional spices.

Todd’s Dirt

Todd’s Dirt is a Cajun seasoning that contains many of the same spices as old bay seasoning. It gets its name from the fact that it looks like dirt.

While it may not be the most appetizing name, Todd’s Dirt makes a great old bay seasoning substitute. It has a similar flavor profile to old bay, but it is a little spicier.

Chesapeake dirt, which is a type of Todd’s dirt seasoning, is considered to be the most similar to old bay. Why? It comprises of 20 different herbs and spices, it’s all-natural, gluten-free, glutamate-free, and free of allergens.

If you’re cooking fish, vegetables, shellfish, crabs, shrimps, BBQ ribs, or scallops, and if you’re looking to add a little extra heat to your dish, Todd’s Dirt is a great choice. Just be sure to start with a small amount and add more to taste.

Chinese Five Spice

Chinese five spice is a combination of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. It’s often used in Chinese cooking to add flavor to meats, fish, seafood, poultry, and vegetables.

While it doesn’t taste exactly like old bay seasoning, it does have a similar flavor profile. The most significant thing about this choice is that it’s made up of five distinct tastes: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter. That’s how the name originated.

A drawback though is that it is not a good mix for things like popcorn, French fries, or mashed potatoes. Again, there are different versions of Chinese Five Spices with different recipes. So be careful to look at the ingredients, when buying.

However, if you’re looking for an old bay seasoning substitute to use in Chinese cooking, Chinese five-spice is a good option. It’s readily available in most grocery stores.

French Four Spice

French four spice is a blend of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and white pepper. It’s often used in French cooking to flavor stews, casseroles, and soups.

This old bay seasoning substitute has a similar flavor profile to old bay with a little bit of sweetness from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The French Four Spice also has a bit of heat from the white pepper.

To get the old bay taste as closely as feasible, you’ll need to add a few more components to the mix. Paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, and celery salt are examples of these ingredients.

So, if you’re looking for an old bay seasoning substitute to use in French cooking, French Four Spice is a good option. But be prepared to do a little searching to find it.

Celery Salt and Paprika

This combination provides a similar flavor to old bay seasoning with a little bit of sweetness from the paprika.

Celery salt is made from ground celery seeds and salt. It’s often used to flavor salads, soups, and sauces. On the other hand, paprika is made from dried red peppers and it’s often used to add color and flavor to food.

To improve the flavor of your Slow Cooker Crack Chicken, add a pinch of celery salt and paprika. In its place, use 1:1 quantities for your Old Bay seasoning.

Do you prefer it spicier? Red pepper flakes or black pepper are both good additions. Want a sweeter old bay-ish flavor? You can always add more paprika.

Pickling Spice

Pickling spice is a mix of spices that are used to flavor pickles and other foods. It typically contains mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seeds, allspice, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves.

While it doesn’t have the exact same flavor as old bay seasoning, it does have a similar flavor profile. The main difference is that it’s sweeter because of the allspice and cinnamon.

Another thing to keep in mind is that pickling spice generally doesn’t have salt. So, if you use this old bay seasoning substitute, you’ll need to add salt to taste.

To make a quick and easy old bay seasoning substitute, do a 1:1 ratio replacement. You may even add paprika, celery salt, and black paper to taste.

Cajun Seasoning

This substitute is used in Cajun and Creole cooking. It typically contains paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, oregano, and thyme.

Cajun seasoning doesn’t have the exact same flavor as old bay seasoning, it does have a similar flavor profile. The main difference is that it’s spicier because of the cayenne pepper.

To make a quick and easy old bay seasoning substitute, do a Cajun seasoning replacement at a ratio of about ¾ teaspoons per tablespoon of old bay seasoning called for in your recipe. You can always add more (or less) to taste.

Seasoned salt

Seasoned salt is a mix of salt and various herbs and spices. It’s often used to flavor meats, vegetables, and salads. The herbs and spices in the mix can vary, but they typically include paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, celery seed, black pepper, and white pepper.

This option has a special taste that works especially well in marinades, and scrambled eggs. Its flavor is also similar to that of old bay seasoning. The main difference is that it’s saltier because of the salt content.

To use this old bay seasoning substitute, use about half of what the recipe calls for in old bay seasoning. So, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of old bay seasoning, you would use ½ tablespoon of seasoned salt. You can always adjust the measurement, depending on your preference.

Homemade Old Bay Seasoning

If you’re still stuck on what to do, try making your own old bay seasoning. This way, you’ll know exactly what’s in it and you can adjust the flavor to your preference.

To make old bay seasoning at home, mix together paprika, celery salt, black pepper, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper. Then add in some dried thyme, dried basil, and dried oregano.

Start with a ratio of ¼ teaspoon of each spice. Then, taste and adjust as necessary. This old bay seasoning substitute will last for about six months stored in a cool, dark place.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I don’t like old bay seasoning, can I use substitutes?

If you don’t like old bay seasoning, you can try using substitutes. Some common substitutes include Cajun seasoning, pickling spice, and seasoned salt.

Lawry’s seasoning vs old bay seasoning, which is better?

This is a matter of personal preference. Both seasonings have a similar flavor profile, but old bay seasoning is spicier because of the cayenne pepper.

Is old bay seasoning gluten-free?

Yes, old bay seasoning is gluten-free.

Is there salt in old bay seasoning?

Yes, old bay seasoning does contain salt.

I don’t have old bay seasoning, can I use cumin?

No, I don’t recommend using cumin as a substitute for old bay seasoning because the flavors are not similar. Cumin is earthy and smoky while old bay seasoning is spicy and tangy.


So there you have it, a list of old bay seasoning substitutes that you can use in a pinch. Be sure to experiment and find the perfect blend for your needs. And don’t forget to be creative. Try new things and have fun with it!