Classic Spice Blends: Old Bay Seasoning

Classic Spice Blends: Old Bay Seasoning
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Classic Spice Blends: Old Bay SeasoningGustav Brunn came to the United States from Germany with a dream of starting a spice business. I would say his dream came true since he founded the Old Bay Seasoning company over 60 years ago.

Old Bay may be a company name but it's also become a spice blend used for much more than just seafood by millions of cooks.

McCormick & Co. purchased Old Bay in 1990 and encourages us to use it on chicken, French fries, popcorn, baked potatoes, deviled eggs, hamburgers, and even pizza. Lynne Latella, one of OFL subscribers asked for a blend she could make that was similar since the Old Bay containers are really too big for her, and don't get used quickly enough.

The recipe is actually a secret, but I found two recipes that can be used in it's place. You can halve the recipes if they are too large, and remember that it never hurts to adjust if you like a certain spice a little bit more. The biggest difference I see in the two is the celery salt vs. celery seed. Obviously the second recipe is going to be on the salty side.

Also, you start with ground spices in the second one, which won't come out quite as fresh, but if you make sure they haven't been sitting for a long time it would be fine.

Copycat Old Bay Seasoning Blend


1 tablespoon celery seeds

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

6 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon whole cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

4 whole cloves

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon mace

In a spice grinder or food processor, grind all ingredients until they are powdered. Store in a small glass jar for up to six months.

Copycat #2 Old Bay Seasoning


1 tablespoon celery salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon mace

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine, mixing well. Store in a cool place in an airtight jar.


black peppercorns

Old Bay Pepper Steak


1 pound lean round steak, cut in thin strips

1 cup sliced green pepper

1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

In skillet, brown round steak slightly in oil. Add the vegetables and seasoning. Stir fry about 5 minutes. Mix corn starch with water and soy sauce. Pour over meat and vegetables. Stir until sauce is thickened. Serve over rice. Makes 6 servings

Fried Catfish

Ingredients: 1/3 cup white or yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4 catfish fillets (tilapia works well too)

1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place cornmeal in a pie plate. Add the seasonings. Stir to blend. Season with salt and mix again. Dip the fillets in beaten egg and turn in the cornmeal mixture to coat on both sides. Repeat with each piece, and set aside on a plate. Heat the oil in large skillet. Sauté each fillet 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork. Makes 4 servings

Spicy Crab Cakes

1 lb. Lump Crabmeat

1 cup bread crumbs

1 beaten egg

1/3 cup mayonnaise, regular or light

1 tbsp. prepared horseradish

1/2 tbsp. lemon zest/grated peel

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

1-2 ears of corn, scraped from the cob (leftover works fine)

Combine all dry ingredients. Combine all wet ingredients, except the crab, and add to the dry. Fold in the crab meat and gently mix all together with your hands or a large wooden spoon. Shape into 8 patties. Add vegetable oil to large skillet. Sauté cakes 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Sauteed Squash and Tomatoes


1 tbsp. olive oil

3 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds (or other summer squash)

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped

1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add zucchini and onions and sauté until they become softened. Stir in tomatoes, Old Bay and pepper. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese; cover and cook for 5 more minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Seafood Pasta Salad


2 lbs. shrimp, cooked and chopped

1 cup shredded crab meat

8 oz shell pasta, cooked according to package instructions

1/2 cup celery, chopped

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1 large bottle ranch dressing

1 1/2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

1/2 cup chopped green peppers

1/2 cup light or regular mayonnaise

1 tbsp. fresh minced dill or 1/2 tsp. dried

Mix all ingredients together, toss, and refrigerate for several hours. Makes 6-8 servings.

Party Nuts


2 tbsp. butter, melted

2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper sauce

2 cups pecans, almond, walnuts or a mixture

Stir together the butter, spices and sauces. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, spreading them out evenly. Bake at 300 degrees F. for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Cool. Serve or store in covered container. Makes 2 cups.


Images: courtesy of

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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