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7 Best Substitutes For Old Bay Seasoning To Try For Next Cooking

Quick Answer: What Is The Best Substitute For Old Bay Seasoning?

Old bay seasoning offers a delicious taste to your recipes with its vibrant taste, thanks to the flavors it comes packed with. To acquire th same case in the old bay shortening, you may use crab boil, todd’s dirt, pickling spice, Chinese five spice, seasoned salt, cajun seasoning, etc as the substitutes of Old bay seasoning.

A popular American spice blend, Old Bay Seasoning is packed full of flavor. Offering peppery, salty, spicy, and herbaceous flavors, we all know too well how good the blend pairs with seafood. Especially with clam chowder and shrimp boils. 

Originating from Maryland, the main reason this spice blend tastes so good is because of the 18 different herbs and spices it contains. 

However, while this makes it a great seasoning when we have it, it also makes it quite difficult to replace. The fact you’ve stumbled across this post would suggest you’re having that very problem.

If you are, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ve listed the best Old Bay Seasoning substitutes.

The Best Substitutes For Old Bay Seasoning

If you decide to stick around, we’ll take you through each substitute, showing you exactly what to expect and how to go about substituting it for Old Bay Seasoning.

If that sounds good to you, make sure you keep reading!

1. Pickling Spice

The first option on our list is pickling spice. Pickling spice is a unique spice blend that is most commonly used for pickling food. However, it can also be used to add plenty of flavor to a wide range of dishes. This includes soups and stews. 

This addition of intense flavors makes it a great substitute for Old Bay Seasoning and one you can easily use to achieve a perfect flavor when cooking seafood. We personally love this alternative when adding flavor to shrimp boils.

Another great thing about pickling spice is that you will find it in most supermarkets across the United States. Simply head for the spice section. You’ll also find it online. Even better, you might have your own pickling spices at home already.

How To Substitute

Substituting Old Bay Seasoning with pickling spice is incredibly easy. You can use the spice blend in equal quantities as you would normally use Old Bay Seasoning. If you want to make your own pickling spice at home, combine allspice, cloves, cilantro seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger, bay leaf, and mustard seeds.

2. Crab Boil

Next on our list, we have crab boil. crab boil is a spice blend specifically made for flavoring seafood. In particular, the blend is made to work best with lobster, shellfish, crabs, or crawfish. 

Interestingly, rather than being used to flavor the seafood, this spice blend is used to season the water it boils in. This ensures that all the seafood is evenly flavored and ready to enjoy.

Seeing as though Old Bay Seasoning is also used to flavor seafood, crab boil makes a brilliant substitute.

As with most spice blends, you can also make your own crab boil at home. To make a homemade crab boil, all you need is cilantro seed, mustard seed, cayenne pepper, dill seed, bay leaves, and allspice.

Grinding all of these spices together in a pestle and mortar will leave you with a flavorful spice blend.

How To Substitute

Once you’ve made or bought your crab boil, you can start to use it as a substitute for Old Bay Seasoning. Whilst everyone’s palates differ in terms of what they do and don’t like, we recommend using crab boil in the same quantities as you would Old Bay Seasoning. Doing so will result in similar results and beautifully flavored seafood.

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3. Todd’s Dirt

If you’ve never heard of Todd’s Dirt before, we can totally appreciate why you might be put off by the idea. With a name like Todd’s Dirt, it doesn’t seem like the type of thing you’d want to put in your food.

However, once you look past the odd name, Todd’s Dirt is actually a fantastic brand that produces a wide range of spice blends perfect for using as an alternative for Old Bay Seasoning. 

If you’re a big fan of spicy food, Todd’s Dirt Crabby Dirt is a great option. Featuring a similar flavor profile to Old Bay Seasoning, you can expect this spice blend to add lots of flavors and a great burst of heat. 

The two ingredients in this spice blend that add heat are cayenne and chipotle powder.

How To Substitute

Substituting Old Bay Seasoning with Todd’s Dirt requires more care than when using the substitutes we’ve already discussed. That is because it provides a more powerful kick. With that in mind, you should add this seasoning a little bit at a time before tasting your dish. That way, you can avoid overpowering the dish with too much heat.

4. Cajun Seasoning

Fresh out of Louisiana, cajun seasoning is easily one of the best substitutes you can use when you’re all out of Old Bay Seasoning. In fact, in most states around the U.S, it may even be the better option.

The reason for this is pretty simple. Cajun seasoning is much more readily available in most stores than Old Bay Seasoning. This not only makes it an easier option but also a tasty one.

To make things even better, its flavor profile isn’t too dissimilar to Old Bay Seasoning. Although, you will notice more of a kick as this spice blend does contain more spices.

Typically made out of paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, and pepper, cajun seasoning can also be made at home.

The one downside to this substitute is that it isn’t a great option if you don’t like spicy food.

How To Substitute

You can substitute cajun seasoning by using a little less than you would when using Old Bay Seasoning. The reason we recommend this is because it is a hotter blend of spices than Old Bay Seasoning. Having said that, if you like things spicy, feel free to use it in equal measures to Old Bay Seasoning instead.

The Best Substitutes For Old Bay Seasoning (1)

5. Chinese Five Spice

If you’re looking for an alternative to Old Bay Seasoning because you don’t like the taste of it, you could try something completely different by using the Chinese five spice to season your food instead.

A unique spice blend made from fennel, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves, Chinese five spice is a much sweeter blend that has a much more palate-friendly flavor.

Thanks to its versatility, it goes well with red meats, poultry, and of course, seafood. Primarily used in Asian cuisine, we find that shrimp boils taste great with this spice blend, so why not give it a try for yourself?

We’re sure your guests will be impressed. 

You can buy Chinese five spice from most stores. Simply head to the spice section. You could even make your own by combining and grinding the ingredients above. If you can’t find Szechuan peppercorns, use ginger instead. 

How To Substitute

Because we aren’t trying to mimic the flavors of Old Bay Seasoning with this substitute, you can use it how you please. Simply add the amount of Chinese five spice that you’re happy with. Adding it in small amounts to avoid overpowering the dish is a great idea.

6. Copycat Old Bay Seasoning

Is there anything better to use as a substitute for Old Bay Seasoning than an Old Bay Seasoning copycat? We don’t think there is!

Now, Old Bay Seasoning’s blend is an original blend that has been kept a secret for many years. As a result, all of the ingredients in the spice blend are kept a secret by the manufacturer.

This makes it much harder to recreate it.

However, by experimenting with different flavors, we think we’ve come up with an awesome recipe that closely resembles the original spice blend, and it tastes great. Better still, it is super easy to make. 

To make our Old Bay Seasoning, we used ground spices, but you can enhance flavors by using whole spices and a pestle and mortar.

To make this spice blend, combine the following ingredients.

  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ginger
  • 1 pinch cloves
  • 1 pinch cardamom
  • ⅛ tsp mustard
  • 1 ½ tbsp celery salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

How To Substitute

The best thing about this spice blend is that once it’s made you can use it exactly how you would use the real Old Bay Seasoning blend.

RELATED: 10 Of The Best Alternatives To Chinese Five-Spice To Use In Your Cooking!

7. Seasoned Salt

The final option on our list might not be the best substitute, but it’s definitely one of the easiest and most affordable.

Although it has a very different taste, seasoned salt can be used to replace Old Bay Seasoning in a pinch. It is also super versatile, working well with virtually any dish you throw its way.

We like to use seasoned salt with pork, beef, poultry, and fish. We find that it enhances flavors nicely in no time. Another great use it has is flavoring eggs and popcorn.

Other than that, there’s not much else to say about this substitute.

How To Substitute

Seasoned salt shouldn’t be used as an equivalent to Old Bay Seasoning. Instead, it should be added in small quantities until you’re happy with the overall flavor of your dish. Failure to do this correctly could lead to an under-flavored dish or a dish that’s too salty, so be careful.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s Old Bay Seasoning Made Of?

Old Bay seasoning is made from celery salt, mustard seeds, onion, garlic, parsley, and thyme.

What Is The Main Flavor Of Old Bay Seasoning?

Old Bay is a seafood seasoning made from celery, cloves, coriander, dill, mustard, paprika, pepper, red pepper flakes, and turmeric. The flavor is a blend of sweet and salty, with a hint of the spices used.

Is Cajun And Old Bay Seasoning The Same?

Cajun seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices used to flavor dishes in Cajun cuisine. It is a mixture of herbs and spices such as thyme, oregano, bay leaves, paprika, garlic, onion, and pepper.

Old Bay seasoning is a Cajun seasoning commonly used to season fried seafood.

The Best Substitutes For Old Bay Seasoning

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Consisting of 18 herbs and spices, Old Bay Seasoning can be quite difficult to replace. In this post, we give you 7 of the best substitutes to get you started.


  • Pickling Spice

  • Crab Boil

  • Todd’s Dirt

  • Cajun Seasoning

  • Chinese Five Spice

  • Copycat Old Bay Seasoning

  • Seasoned Salt


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith