Multiple layers of complex flavors have made this iconic American spice blend a household favorite for generations. This Old Bay Seasoning recipe is fabulous as an all-purpose seasoning blend and is sure to win a permanent place at your dinner table!
What is Old Bay Seasoning?
Old Bay Seasoning is a quintessential American spice blend that has had a popular following since it was developed over 80 years ago. It’s characterized by multiple layers of complex flavors that pair well with a large variety of dishes. Its broad flavor palette makes it a terrific all-purpose seasoning. We’ve created an Old Bay Seasoning copycat that we think you’ll agree is a total winner!
The History of Old Bay Seasoning
It was World War II and a man named Gustav Brunn, a German Jew, was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. His family managed to bribe the Nazi soldiers to release him for a hefty sum of 10,000 marks and then hastily made preparations to flee to the United States. He had to leave virtually everything behind but there was one item he couldn’t part with: His small spice grinder. Clutching his meager belongings he escaped from Germany and arrived in what would become his new home of Maryland, USA. He soon got a job working for America’s largest spice company, McCormick, but was fired after only a week because of his lack of English skills. But Brunn didn’t let that stop him.
In 1939 Brunn rented some space across from the Wholesale Fish Market at Baltimore’s Market Place and went to work creating what would become one of America’s most iconic spice blends. He started selling it under the name “Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning” but soon changed it to what would remain its permanent name, Old Bay, a tribute to the Old Bay Line steamship route on the Chesapeake Bay. The unique new seasoning spread via word of mouth and in time it acquired legendary status in its region and tremendous popularity beyond.
Ironically McCormick purchased Old Bay in 1990. They’ve continue to make it after Brunn’s original formula.
How to Use Old Bay Seasoning
While it’s traditionally associated with southern crab and crawfish boils, Old Bay Seasoning is deliciously versatile. Here are some tasty ways you can use it:
- In clam chowder and oyster stews
- Sprinkled on French fries
- Added to potato, pasta, egg or tuna salads
- Sprinkled on jambalaya, gumbo and other rice dishes
- Sprinkled on popcorn
- Added to salads
- Sprinkled on corn on the cob
- Strewn over baked potatoes
- For seasoning roasted nuts
- Added to crab and fish cakes
- Sprinkled over fish tacos
- Sprinkled over bread rolls
- Strewn over chicken wings
- As a dry rub for fish, meat and poultry
- Added to eggs, deviled eggs, and omelettes
- Incorporated into marinades for meats, poultry and seafood
- Stirred into softened butter and then chilled to make a seasoned compound butter
- Sprinkled over steamed, boiled, baked or grilled veggies
- Kept at the table to sprinkle on pretty much anything!
What is in Old Bay Seasoning?
The original version is said to have contained 18 ingredients, most of which have remained a heavily guarded secret. While no one knows for sure what all of the ingredients are or what their quantities and ratios are, there have been many attempts over the years at replicating the blend. This is our copycat of the famous Old Bay Seasoning.
Included in our Old Bay Seasoning copycat recipe is salt, celery seed, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, black pepper, white pepper, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves, cinnamon ground mustard, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. That’s 16 spices and if you want to increase the count to the original 18, feel free to add a touch or two of your own. For example, you could add some garlic and/or onion powder.
We’ve tested this recipe on a large variety of foods and are confident you’re going to love this homemade Old Bay Seasoning as much as we do!
Old Bay Seasoning Recipe
Once you’ve gathered up the ingredients it takes just a couple of minutes to make.
Place all of the ingredients in a coffee or spice grinder or small blender and grind until it’s a smooth powder.
Transfer the spice blend to an airtight jar and store in a dark, cool place.
For optimal flavor use within 3 months.
For more delicious homemade seasoning blends be sure to try our:
- Greek Seasoning
- Curry Powder
- Creole Seasoning
- Montreal Steak Seasoning
- Poultry Seasoning
- Seasoned Salt
- Garam Masala
- Chinese Five Spice
- Chili Powder
- Shichimi Togarashi
- Taco Seasoning
Old Bay Seasoning
- 3/4 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 5 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
- Place all of the ingredients in a coffee or spice grinder or small blender and grind until it's a smooth powder. Transfer the spice blend to an airtight jar and store in a dark, cool place.For optimal flavor use within 3 months.Makes about 1/4 cup.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet May 28, 2020