The Best Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning (Copycat Recipe)

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If you’re looking for Old Bay Seasoning substitutes check out these ideas! They use common ingredients and are very easy to make. Best of all you can control the amount of salt and heat with the Best Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning Recipe!

Old Bay Seasoning is a popular spice blend that originated in the United States, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay region. It’s known for its unique flavor that combines a mix of herbs and spices.

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Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning

The seasoning mix is a proprietary blend and was created for use with seafood dishes, but it has become versatile and is now used in various dishes like chowder, french fries, potato salad, and popcorn.

The exact seasoning blend used in Old Bay Seasoning is a closely guarded secret, but it typically includes a combination of bay leaves, celery seed, mustard seed, paprika, and different spices. It has a sweet flavor, yet spicy flavor, and is an excellent substitute for cajun seasoning. 

Reader Review for Copycat Old Bay Seasoning Recipe

I like it better than the original! It’s not as salty but adds tons of flavor. – Shawna

The Perfect Blend of Spices

Before I lost 125 pounds I used Old Bay Seasoning in crab cakes, seafood recipes, and shrimp boils. Now that I eat a plant-based diet and I try to eat organic whenever possible I created my replacement for Old Bay Seasoning.

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Copycat Old Bay Seasoning

I use it on popcorn, cauliflower wings, and especially, mushroom po’boys!  This healthier copycat version of the Old Bay seasoning recipe is a game-changer if you care about food additives. By creating your own seasoning mix, you can have complete control over what goes into it, avoiding excessive salt and preservatives commonly found in packaged seasoning. 

Plus, with this spice blend you can customize it to suit your taste preferences, making it milder or spicier, and even adjusting the salt content. 

Check out the recipe for making your own Old Bay Seasoning at home, or experiment with one of the alternative substitutes for Old Bay Seasoning listed below.

If you want to create more of your own spice blends, check these out:

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6 Best Substitutes for Old Bay Seasoning

  • Pickling Spice – Pickling spice is a blend that varies widely among makers. Common ingredients include mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom, mace, allspice, cloves, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper, bay leaf, and cinnamon. Typically, the spices are whole or coarsely blended, and the mix doesn’t include salt, but check the ingredients list to make sure. Grind the spices in and incorporate one teaspoon of salt or celery salt for every tablespoon of unsalted pickling spice for a great option.
  • Cajun seasoning  – this seasoning is a good substitute for Old Bay. It’s generally a blend of spicy peppers, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and black pepper. You can add a little celery salt for a closer version of the real thing.
  • Creole Seasoning – It’s similar to cajun seasoning but has less heat and more of a blackened flavor. It typically contains onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, basil, thyme, and pepper. Most brands contain salt, but you could add a little celery salt if you want a similar flavor profile to Old Bay. 
  • Chinese Five Spice – This mixed spice blend, combining five spices, offers a unique and flavorful profile. The main ingredients often include cinnamon, star anise, clove, fennel seed, and peppercorns. The anise and fennel give it a licorice-like flavor, so if you want to use it as a substitute for Old Bay Seasoning, I suggest adding one teaspoon of celery salt, one teaspoon of paprika, and cayenne pepper to taste, for every tablespoon of 5-spice. 
  • 3 Ingredient Old Bay Seasoning Substitute Recipe – in a pinch you can always use 1 tablespoon of celery salt, 1 tablespoon of paprika, and 1 teaspoon of bay leaf powder. It will probably require you to grind bay leaves, so if you don’t have a spice grinder you can omit the bay leaf powder. If you do grind bay leaves I found it to be about a 3:1 ratio, meaning 3 bay leaves equaled 1 teaspoon of powder. 
  • The Best Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning – This is a great substitute for Old Bay Seasoning, but you will need a spice grinderIt isn’t the exact recipe for Old Bay, but it’s darn close.


You can find the full recipe card, including ingredient quantities, full step-by-step instructions, and nutritional information below. I know this looks like a long ingredient list, but the real thing supposedly has 18 different spices.

  • Bay leaves – I used a spice grinder and made them into a spice powder.
  • Paprika – I used regular, but you could use Hungarian Paprika if you want a little more smoky flavor. 
  • Celery Seeds –  I used a spice grinder to grind and added a little kosher salt to make my own Celery Salt.
  • Dry Mustard – you have to have it.
  • Black Pepper – I used both black pepper and white pepper.
  • White Pepper – it adds a smooth heat. I think you will enjoy it.
  • Garlic Powder – Everything is better with garlic.
  • Onion Powder – Same as garlic.  
  • Chili Powder – It gives it a depth of flavor.
  • Kosher Salt or Sea Salt – you can omit if you’re watching your salt intake and don’t want too much salt, but a pinch will really bring out the flavors of all of the spices.
  • Nutmeg – It’s a great warming spice.
  • Cinnamon – same as nutmeg.
  • Ginger – a little sweet heat.
  • Cloves – deep spiciness. 
  • Cardamom – deep sweetness.
  • Red Pepper Flakes –  I used a spice grinder to make them into a powder.
  • Cayenne – just a pinch or as much as you want for heat.
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Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning Ingredients

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Why This is the Best Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning

  • Tailored Flavor: This is one of the best Old Bay Seasoning substitutes because it allows you to customize the flavor to suit your taste preferences. You can add more heat with extra cayenne pepper or less kosher salt, whatever your personal preference.
  • Peak Freshness: You can use the freshest spices in your homemade old bay seasoning recipe which will guarantee a vibrant and robust flavor that surpasses store-bought alternatives.
  • All-Natural Goodness: Unlike some pre-made spice blends, this Copycat Old Bay spice mix contains no additives or preservatives, offering a clean and pure taste for your own Old Bay Seasoning. Plus it’s an easy Old Bay Seasoning recipe to make.
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Old Bay Seasoning Substitute


Is Old Bay Seasoning Gluten Free?

Old Bay Seasoning does not contain gluten in its original formulation.  However, it’s always crucial to check the product label, as formulations may change over time, and different variations or limited-edition versions of the seasoning may be introduced.

For the most current and accurate information regarding whether Old Bay Seasoning is gluten-free, I recommend checking the product packaging or contacting the manufacturer directly. They often provide the most up-to-date information on ingredients, allergens, and potential cross-contamination.

Is Old Bay Vegan?

Yes. Old Bay Seasoning is generally considered vegan. The ingredients in Old Bay Seasoning typically include a blend of herbs and spices that are plant-based, and there are no animal-derived components listed in the traditional Old Bay Seasoning formulation.

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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. It contains a combination of salt, sugar, paprika, turmeric, onion, and garlic powder, among other herbs and spices.

Old Bay Seasoning has a more complex flavor profile with a blend of herbs and spices. It typically includes ingredients like celery salt, mustard, red pepper, and paprika. It is known for its bold, savory, and slightly spicy taste and is often associated with seafood dishes. The choice between them depends on the specific flavor you’re looking for and the type of cuisine you’re preparing.

How to use this Old Bay Substitute Recipe

This Old Bay Seasoning replacement isn’t just for seafood seasoning. It can add a delicious and savory kick to a variety of vegan dishes. Here are some serving suggestions:

  1. Roasted Vegetables:
    • Toss your favorite vegetables (such as potatoes, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower) in olive oil and sprinkle with this Copycat Old Bay Seasoning Recipe before roasting.
  2. Vegan Seafood Alternatives:
    • Use it to season vegan seafood alternatives like plant-based crab cakes, tofu “shrimp,” or vegan fish fillets.
  3. Popcorn:
    • Sprinkle it on popcorn for a unique and savory twist. It adds a flavorful punch to your movie night snack.
  4. Vegan Dips:
    • Mix it into vegan dips like hummus, cashew-based cheese, or vegan aioli for a tasty appetizer or sandwich spread.
  5. Vegan Potato Salad:
    • Add this substitute Old Bay Seasoning to a vegan potato salad for a flavorful and zesty twist. It pairs especially well with the creaminess of the potatoes.
  6. Vegan Mac and Cheese:
    • Enhance the flavor of vegan mac and cheese by incorporating it into the sauce or sprinkling it on top for an extra kick.
  7. Grilled Tofu or Tempeh:
    • Marinate tofu or tempeh with a mixture of this replacement for Old Bay Seasoning, olive oil, and lemon juice before grilling or baking.
  8. Vegan Soups:
    • Add it to vegan soups, such as lentil soup or chowder, to give them a savory and aromatic boost.
  9. Vegan Coleslaw:
    • Mix it into vegan coleslaw dressing for a flavorful coleslaw to serve as a side or on sandwiches.
  10. Roasted Chickpeas:
    • Coat roasted chickpeas with a mixture of it for a crunchy and flavorful vegan snack.

Remember to adjust the quantity of this Old Bay substitute according to your taste preferences, as it can be quite bold. Enjoy experimenting with it to enhance the flavor of your favorite vegan dishes!

spice mix in glass dish with bay leavesPin
Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning


If you’ve made this Old Bay seasoning substitute and want to store it for future use, here are some general guidelines:

  1. Airtight Container:
    • Store the Old Bay substitute in an airtight container. This helps prevent exposure to air and moisture, which can compromise the quality and flavor of the spices.
  2. Cool, Dark Place:
    • Keep the container in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. Exposure to light and heat can cause herbs and spices to lose their potency more quickly.
  3. Avoid Humidity:
    • Moisture can lead to clumping and can affect the quality of the substitute. Store the container in a dry place to avoid humidity.
  4. Labeling:
    • Label the container with the date of preparation or purchase. This helps you keep track of its freshness and ensures you use it within a reasonable timeframe.
  5. Check for Spoilage:
    • Periodically check the substitute for any signs of spoilage, such as changes in color, texture, or aroma. If it smells off or looks discolored, it may be time to replace it.
  6. Refrigeration (Optional):
    • While many spice blends don’t require refrigeration, if you live in a humid environment, you might choose to store it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life.

Remember that the shelf life of a spice blend depends on the freshness of its components. Ground spices tend to lose their flavor more quickly than whole spices, so it’s a good idea to make smaller batches or check and refresh your spice blends periodically. 

For more info regarding food safety, click here

Recipes You Can Add Old Bay Seasoning Replacement To


If you like this recipe, please leave a 5-star rating and tell me how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

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3 from 3 votes

Best Replacement for Old Bay Seasoning (Copycat Recipe)

This is the best replacement for Old Bay Seasoning ever! It has common ingredients and is so easy to make. Best of all you can control the amount of salt and heat with this homemade version of classic Old Bay Seasoning!
Course Seasoning
Cuisine American
Diet Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Low Salt, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword old bay seasoning substitute, old bay substitute, replacement for old bay seasoning
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 tablespoons
Calories 18kcal
Author Cindy Newland with Intentionally Eat


  • 1 Tbsp ground dried bay leaves approximately 10 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch cayenne


  • Add all of the ingredients to a spice blender and blend until it reaches a fine powder. 
  • Transfer the Old Bay substitute seasoning mix to an airtight container or a Mason jar. Enjoy!


Nutritional Information is only an estimate. The accuracy of this recipe may differ depending on the ingredients you use.


Serving: 1 Tbsp | Calories: 18kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.5g | Protein: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Sodium: 316mg | Fiber: 1g

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​Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a medical professional. The information provided on this blog is based on my personal experiences and research as a vegan recipe enthusiast. While I strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns. The recipes and tips shared on this blog are meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Always prioritize your health and well-being by seeking personalized guidance from a qualified healthcare provider.

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