Feb 28, 2009

Old Bay Seasoning

Spring is in the air! Having visions of lazy, sunny days in my small, Dutch back yard. Or in the park. Sounds of playing children, laughter and fun all around me. Loads of fresh fish and chicken right on top of a sizzling hot BBQ. That, and ice cold white wine. Behold the permanent ruination of my waistline!

A couple of years ago a friend sent me a big can of ‘Old Bay Seasoning’. I instantly became hooked! It’s been a staple in my home ever since. Since this spice mix can’t be bought in the Netherlands (is it a typically American item?), I’m doing my Dutch (and European?) buddies a favor by giving the ingredients for a faux old bay seasoning!

It’s not an exact one-on-one but, in my opinion, it comes pretty darn close. I really like what this spice mix does to fish and shrimp and it definitely spikes up your average beef stew, but that’s basically all I’ve been using it for.

So I’m wondering; what other dishes/recipes do you use Old Bay for?


6 bay leaves
2 tsp celery salt
2 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp white (or black) pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sweet paprika
cayenne (pinch)
6 cloves


Sunny days also come with big lollipops. Well, my mini-man doesn’t need a sunny day to stuff his little face with candy, that’s for sure. It does make for fun photos, though! Sure, go ahead and laugh. You’re not the one who has to scrape that sticky stuff off those cheeks.

Normally I would have used my mortar and pestle for this. I love the thing. It makes me feel all witchy—the old lady living on top of the hill, who has been known to eat little children. Sorry, my therapist said I have a vivid imagination. Well, if I had a therapist, I’m sure that’s what he would have said!

Using the spice-mill that came with my food processor this time, though. Lazy bloggers posting; just throw it all in one, big photo. Add all your spices to a food processor, spice-mill or mortar. Start bashing, smashing or blitzing.

This is what you end up with. Especially Dutchies are going to like this spice mix; we always throw a few bay leaves in the pot when making beef stew anyway.

The original Old Bay Seasoning contains far more salt than my copycat recipe. So feel free to throw in an additional tsp. Only downside to my spice mix; it doesn’t come with this incredibly cute can. It even has recipes printed on it!

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    1. 1

      I don’t know if Old Bay is exported, but I am fairly sure that it originated in Maine (Northeast US aka New England) and that the “Old Bay” is Casco Bay, Maine – although I could be all wet and the “bay” just for the bay leaf…

      I remember my grandmother having it. I have never used it but I’m going to look for it after seeing the list and I also always put a bay leave in soups, stews, almost anything simmered.

      Ann from Montana on Feb 28, 2009 @ 3:23 pm Reply
    2. 2

      My son loves Old Bay on his potatos. He won’t eat hash brwons or french fries with out it.

      Sheila on Feb 28, 2009 @ 4:39 pm Reply
    3. 3

      Hello – I think Old Bay is the traditional seasoning for Eastern Shore, Maryland (US) crabs. I had it all the time when I lived down there, and I think the Bay is the Chesapeake. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Bay_Seasoning

      However, I have also been non-traditional and used it on Maine lobsters (which generally are served with just drawn butter). Yum!

      Calypso on Feb 28, 2009 @ 4:40 pm Reply
    4. 4

      Awesome! This looks really good because my husband has hypertension. Even though we have access to Old Bay, I’m sure this is way better because of the lower sodium. :)

      Kristen on Feb 28, 2009 @ 4:49 pm Reply
    5. 5

      I should have googled! – and known (Maine butter) – Calypso is right :)!

      Ann from Montana on Feb 28, 2009 @ 4:53 pm Reply
    6. 6

      The thing that instantly springs to mind for me is Frogmore Stew/Lowcountry Boil. The Lowcountry being referenced is the southern coastal portion of the US State South Carolina. You can find a recipe by googling the name or here is one:

      the “Crab boil” called for is almost always Old Bay Seasoning. It really is best with seafoods. You can also add some to the dry ingredients when making a biscuit dough and make a lovely savory biscuit.

      Barbara B on Feb 28, 2009 @ 4:59 pm Reply
    7. 7

      I am sorry for my lack of html-fu. There is a link up there but it should not have been the whole paragraph.

      Barbara B on Feb 28, 2009 @ 5:00 pm Reply
    8. 8

      Kristen, the reason my version is less salty is my chronic hypertention. Pregnancy leftover ‘present’:)

      Kay on Feb 28, 2009 @ 5:03 pm Reply
    9. 9

      I’m almost positive Old Bay originates from the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland (my homestate/place of birth!). For those of you who have had the blessing of eating Maryland Blue Crabs, you will be very familiar with the abundance of Old Bay that generously seasons the crabs.

      Other than seafood, I’ve used Old Bay on french fries (along with other potato dishes).

      Great job making your own!

      Christina on Feb 28, 2009 @ 5:51 pm Reply
    10. 10

      I love Old Bay on eggs… scrambled, fried, any style!

      Anne on Feb 28, 2009 @ 6:35 pm Reply
    11. 11

      I have a killer crab cake recipe that I use Old Bay in – It came from a very wonderful friend who is the private chef for Christina Agulara and these crab cakes are amazing!!

      I love your version and have all the ingredients in the pantry to make my own batch!!

      Cathy on Feb 28, 2009 @ 6:42 pm Reply
    12. 12

      I’m originally from Maryland and like another poster, am almost positive Old Bay is from Maryland. We used it growing up on crabs, shrimp, and fish. It is a great seasoning for fries too. Utz potato chips has a “crab” flavor that tastes very similar to Old Bay. I’ve also baked tilapia with butter and sprinkled with Old Bay which tastes pretty good too.

      Carrie on Feb 28, 2009 @ 8:02 pm Reply
    13. 13

      I always thought it was a seafood seasoning, especially crab. I’ve used it on just about every kind of seafood though, it has a great flavor. I might just make my own going forward, I like the idea of being able to control the salt content.

      Jeff D on Feb 28, 2009 @ 8:46 pm Reply
    14. 14

      I put Old Bay on, and in, almost everything… on eggs, corn-on-the-cob, any vegetable, in soups, stews… you name it!

      Karen on Feb 28, 2009 @ 10:27 pm Reply
    15. 15

      when we were living in Amsterdam I was pregnant and craving a taste of home (Baltimroe, MD) something fierce. So my husband and I emailed my aunt, who is a VP at McCormick (where Old Bay is/was oringinally Processed) and got a basic “recipe” from her and used ours to make steamed shrimp/prawn (there is no real “recipe” though, she says – as it came about as a way to use up left over spices). Then we’d peel leftovers, cut the shrimp/prawn in half, and coat with Hellmans and chill overnight for Shrimp salad the next day :)

      I’m going to hunt down our homemade recipe and see how yours and mine compare, Kay :)

      jessica on Feb 28, 2009 @ 11:31 pm Reply
    16. 16

      ‘course old bay is from the Chesapeake bay ;) I live on the Eastern Shore of MD, and let me tell you, we wait all winter long for the taste of MD blue crabs slathered in old bay seasoning. We put old bay on corn that we grill, on baked tilapia with fresh lemon juice and other vegtables, it’s delicious. Any kind of soup with crab in it…
      I cannot WAIT for summer!

      Lyndsey on Feb 28, 2009 @ 11:44 pm Reply
    17. 17

      As others have said Old Bay is from Maryland and being from Maryland I put it on pretty much everything. Most Marylanders take their Old Bay very seriously! I live in Louisiana now and sometimes I can find Old Bay but not in every store. Down here they like their cajun seasoning which is very similar but not quite as good at all!

      Aliza on Mar 1, 2009 @ 12:03 am Reply
    18. 18

      I live in the Ozarks and Old Bay has been around for years. It comes more than one way. You got the seasonin’ you can add for fish and the kind you use for boilin’ crab and shrimp. There are several recipes that call for this seasonin’. You can use it in crab cakes, fried chicken, casseroles, soups. It’s really good in cole slaw. I believe there are some old bay cookbooks. I think I’ve even seen a recipe where you can add it to some other ingredients to make a rub for meat. Go to oldbay.com.

      Rebel on Mar 1, 2009 @ 3:51 am Reply
    19. 19

      I second Frogmore Stew. I lived in Beaufort, SC for years and became ADDICTED!

      As far as where it originates,
      Google is your friend!


      SurprisingWoman on Mar 1, 2009 @ 5:14 am Reply
    20. 20

      Cathy-wheresmydamnanswer we would love to see your “killer crabcakes” on this site.

      Lynne on Mar 1, 2009 @ 6:36 am Reply
    21. 21

      Hi Kay,
      I use Old Bay in lots of recipes. Any stew, soup, roast. It’s grand in homemade clam chowder, just a dash !

      Charlotte on Mar 1, 2009 @ 3:11 pm Reply
    22. 22

      Yes, us Marylanders will use Old Bay on just about anything! It did not originate at McCormick, they are the current producers and purchased it from the Baltimore Spice Company in the early 90’s if my memory is correct.

      Karen on Mar 1, 2009 @ 7:25 pm Reply
    23. 23

      I also live in Baltimore MD. being jewish I don’t eat crabs but I love Old Bay on popcorn. I think one of the important diferences is that in old bay the celery seeds are not crushed but left whole. maybe you could mill all of your spices minus the celery seed and stir that in at the end.

      Elaine on Mar 1, 2009 @ 9:52 pm Reply
    24. 24

      I checked out the Old Bay at my local grocer today, and there are several varieties. But I wanted to let you know that there is a low-sodium version available.

      Lin on Mar 2, 2009 @ 3:07 am Reply
    25. 25

      sorry, I should have looked this up first: http://oldbay.com/Products/Old-Bay-Less-Sodium-Seasoning.aspx

      Lin on Mar 2, 2009 @ 3:10 am Reply

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