Old Bay Seasoning is an American classic. The seasoning contains an intricate blend of herbs and spices that is sure to rock your taste buds repeatedly, and it is pretty famous for being perfect in different dishes.
However, like every cooking ingredient, you could want to try something new from time to time and get a substitute that works just as well.
So, what is the best substitute for Old Bay Seasoning? Among the many available options, cajun seasoning has proven to be the ideal substitute for Old Bay Seasoning. The two taste very similar, and although cajun seasoning has a spicier flavor, many might not even notice. Cajun seasoning also works for the same dishes, and it is an excellent one-for-one substitute.
An Overview of Old Bay Seasoning
Old Bay Seasoning is a famous American blend of spices that is salty, peppery, and herbaceous. It was first introduced in Maryland, and it includes a blend of 18 herbs and spices. Interestingly, no one exactly knows what those herbs and spices are, or even the combination percentages. The makers have been secretive about their recipe for decades now.
Despite the secrecy, no one can deny that Old Bay Seasoning is an epic seasoning choice. It works great when paired with seafood – especially oysters, clam, and shrimp boils.
You can find Old Bay Seasoning in supermarkets and grocery stores nationwide. It is also a relatively famous cooking ingredient outside the United States. Apparently, not even people on the other side of the world can resist this spicy herb and spice blend.
Why Replace Old Bay Seasoning?
- Wanting to try something new: If you’re looking to change your palette from time to time, you can get some substitutes for Old Bay Seasoning that will work just fine.
- Taste differences: Some people might not like the spicy flavor of Old Bay Seasoning. Well, some substitutes can give you even more spice.
Options for Old Bay Seasoning Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Old Bay Seasoning: Cajun Seasoning
Cajun seasoning is a seasoning option that originates from Louisiana. It is available in supermarkets and grocery stores near you, and it makes for an overall excellent substitute for Old Bay Seasoning.
One of the primary benefits of cajun seasoning is that it has a very similar taste to Old Bay Seasoning. Both are pretty much the same from a taste perspective, although cajun seasoning is a tad spicier. Still, the increased spiciness won’t be too noticeable when you use it in dishes. So, don’t worry about it.
Asides from the cajun seasoning available in supermarkets, you can also make your version of it. Some common ingredients in the cajun seasoning brands include pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and more. Just mix them in a jar, and you’re ready to go.
Cajun seasoning brands also work for pretty much the same dishes as Old Bay Seasoning. So, you can be free to use the latter however you would like. Cajun seasoning also gets top marks because it keeps for a relatively long time. When kept in a closed jar and stored correctly, cajun seasoning can last for as long as a year.
Best Substitute in Seafood Dishes: Pickling Spice
Pickling spice is a form of spice blend that you use to pickle food. However, it also has a lot of utility in sweetening soups, stews, and more. When it comes to flavoring seafood, nothing beats pickling spice if you need a substitute for Old Bay Seasoning.
Like Old Bay Seasoning, pickling spice is also available at grocery stores and supermarkets. Interestingly, you could also make it at home. By combining ingredients like mustard seed, allspice, cloves, cilantro seeds, ginger, and bay leaf, you’re very well on your way to making homemade pickling spice.
As expected, pickling spice is an excellent one-for-one substitute for Old Bay Seasoning.
Best Spicy Substitute: Todd’s Dirt
Todd’s Dirt is another brand that sells cooking ingredients. One of the brand’s products is Crabby Dirt – a perfect substitute for old bay seasoning if you’re looking to maximize that red, spicy, and hot chili flavor.
Crabby Dirt has a familiar flavor to Old Bay Seasoning. This similarity is mainly because it incorporates pretty much the same ingredients as the latter. However, it also adds extra ingredients like cayenne pepper and chipotle powder. So, it is no surprise that Crabby Dirt has an even spicier profile than Old Bay Seasoning.
Crabby Dirt is also a perfect one-for-one Old Bay Seasoning substitute, so feel free to use it as you wish. Just make sure you watch that flavor because it can get pretty hot.
Best Substitute if You Have Time: Homemade Old Bay Seasoning
If you have enough time, why not make your version of Old Bay Seasoning? We might not know the ingredients used to make it, but you can quickly get a combination of spices from your spice racket and give it a spin.
One of the top choices would have to be paprika. This will provide that spicy punch that Old Bay Seasoning is famous for. You can also get ingredients like ginger, allspice, mustard, cardamom, bay leaf, and mace.
Note that you will need to experiment a bit with proportions to get something that works well for you. This is why you should only use this option if you have enough time to experiment and play with proportions. Once you get a good fit, you’re ready to go.
Best Substitute on a Budget: Seasoned Salt
Seasoned salt is especially famous because it is easily accessible and very budget-friendly. The fact that it is readily available also means that it works if you don’t have so much time on your hands.
You should note that seasoned salt doesn’t taste like Old Bay Seasoning at all. Still, if you’re looking to season dishes like beef or pork, it is an excellent option. You can also sprinkle it over eggs and popcorn as it enhances their flavor relatively well.