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Homemade Old Bay Seasoning Recipe

5 from 3 votes
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posted: 08/19/21

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

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 in a small jar

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.

overhead of a small blue dish with old bay seasoning ingredients separated by spice

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!

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 mixed together in a small blue dish

FAQ

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 herbs, it will last for at least 6 months.

homemade old bay seasoning in a small jar

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

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 in a small jar
5 from 3 votes

Old Bay Seasoning

Serves: 8 tablespoons
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
This Homemade Old Bay Seasoning is easy to throw together! We have so many great recipes that uses this delicious seasoning mix.

Ingredients

  • 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 cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
homemade old bay seasoning in a small jar

did you make this

Old Bay Seasoning

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

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

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  1. Kris says

    I love the recipe but is there any way to cut the salt a bit? I really need to watch my salt intake.

    • Lisa Longley says

      One of the things I love about homemade seasoning mixes is that you can control whatever you need to. With this one a bulk of the salt and flavor come from the celery salt. So I would suggest using celery seed instead and then adding the amount of salt you are able to have. That being said, it will change the flavor. Though if you are already on a low salt diet, it likely won’t be as noticeable for you.

  2. Ruthie Brawn says

    If anyone is still searching for the original Old Bay Seasoning check out the fish dept. in your local stores or at a fresh fish/seafood store. I find mine at the fish dept. at our local Shaw’s supermarket.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thanks for this tip!

  3. Andrea says

    Lisa, being a native Maryland girl transplanted to Florida, I have to tell you the proper way to “cook” hardshell blue crabs is to steam them with the Old Bay. Everyone does it a little differently, Marylanders love, love, love their steamed crabs. My husbands recipe is to put water & beer in the bottom of the steamer. He then layers a layer of crabs, a layer of Old Bay, a layer of rock salt, repeat till you have layered all of the crabs.

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