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Spice Reveal: What Does Old Bay Seasoning Taste Like?

Old Bay is an American spice mix created by McCormick & Company back in 1939.

It has a very distinctive flavor – spicy with hints of celery salt, paprika, mustard powder, and other seasonings such as black pepper and bay leaves.

This post will discuss what it tastes like and how to prepare it so that you can enjoy the flavor of this delicious seasoning.

What is Old Bay Seasoning?

what is old bay seasoning

Old bay seasoning is a mixture of herbs and spices that people use to season crabs, shrimp, fish, soups, or other dishes.

Gustav Brunn created it in 1939 out of his blend of 18 different spices, which include celery salt, paprika, mustard seed, and bay leaves.

It can also be used as a table condiment for seafood-based salads like crab cakes and tartar sauce dipping sauces.

The most popular way it’s used, though, is as an ingredient with steamed crabs at any time during the year when they’re in season because Old Bay has become synonymous with Maryland blue crabbing culture.

Why is It Called Old Bay Seasoning?

Old Bay Seasoning is named after the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship line that plied America’s Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore to Norfolk in 1900.

The seasoning was created by a Jewish-German immigrant named Gustav Brunn.

He was looking for an inexpensive way to spice up his boiled crabs and oysters, so he set out to create a seasoning inspired from the spices on board English ships while also considering what locals in Maryland were eating at the time. The result?

It’s a mixture of peppercorns, celery salt, mustard seed, and bay leaves combined with ground thyme.

He then added paprika before deciding it needed more flavor – thus adding garlic powder and hot red peppers like cayenne pepper and crushed chili peppers (alongside black pepper).

The season was then acquired by McCormick & Company, Inc. in 1990 and is now sold worldwide as a regional cuisine seasoning.

What Seasoning is Similar to Old Bay Seasoning?

old bay seasoning substitute cajun seasoning

Old Bay shares many similarities with other popular seafood seasonings such as Tony Chachere’s, Zatarain’s, or Cajun Seasoning.

The most common ingredients in these seasoning blends are salt and black pepper.

Other components include cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder (or fresh garlic), dried thyme leaves, celery seeds, and bay leaf.

All of the recipes also contain mustard seed for added flavor though it is not always listed on the label.

The closest seasoning to Old Bay is Cajun Seasoning. It’s spicier than Old Bay and has a nice kick to it.

Tony Chachere’s is also an excellent alternative for those looking for another variation of seasonings found in this category. It includes garlic, thyme, and paprika.

Zatarain’s is an excellent option for those looking to spice up their seafood with some Cajun flavors without the heat of other popular seasoning blends such as Tony Chachere’s or Old Bay.

This blend includes onion, garlic powder, salt, parsley flakes, black pepper, and cayenne pepper though it does not contain any mustard seed-like its more fiery counterparts do.

What Does Old Bay Smell Like?

It often comes as a surprise to people that Old Bay Seasoning smells nothing like seafood.

Many think it’s because the seasoning is seasoned with celery salt, bay leaves, and other spices, making sense when you consider how many fish and shellfish dishes are cooked in this way.

If there is one word I can use to describe the scent of Old Bay seasoning without hesitation, it would be “spicy.”

The first thing I smell when opening up a container of Old Bay is its trademark spice mix.

It smells like ground, hot spices with herbs – similar to curry. Second, on the list are celery salt and bay leaves; they have an earthy aroma that comes from being dried out in the sun for months at a time.

The last one is dry mustard. This ingredient is used in many different cuisines, but it’s added to Old Bay seasoning specifically for its distinct flavor.

What Does Old Bay Taste Like? Does Old Bay Seasoning Taste Good?

what does old bay taste like

Old Bay seasoning is a mixture of herbs, spices, and other flavorings. It is typically used as a seasoning for seafood, such as crabs and shrimp.

The mixture of herbs in Old Bay varies from brand to brand but generally includes celery salt, mustard seed, paprika, bay leaf, and thyme (among others), making it the “spiciest” out of all the other popular brands.

It also contains black pepper, which makes this spice blend more flavorful than spicy hot.

People buy Old Bay because it’s versatile; you can use this spice on any meat or vegetable dish that needs some extra flavor kick.

Old Bay tastes like spices mixed, primarily the spice mixture called “celery salt,” which includes black pepper for added flavor (but not so much heat).

The best way to describe the taste is a mix of sweet, salty, and spicy, perhaps even some mustard or mace.

How to Use Old Bay Seasoning?

how to use old bay seasoning

It’s no secret that Old Bay seasoning is the perfect way to add a little flavor and spice to any dish.

This seasoning mix, paprika, celery salt, mustard powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes – can be used in many ways.

A well-known use for this popular spice blend is crabs or shrimp boiled with it.

Other dishes we recommend using it on include: chicken salads or roast beef sandwiches as an added topping; fish such as cod dipped in milk then rolled in crumbs mixed with the seasoning before frying;

vegetables like carrots or green beans cooked alongside your favorite meat dish; pretty much anything you want.

You don’t need much of this flavorful spice, so be sure not to add too much at once. You can always come back later and sprinkle more if necessary.


In conclusion, Old Bay seasoning is a tasty seasoning that people should try.

It’s not just created for seafood; it can be used on meats and vegetables too. So don’t forget to try Old Bay seasoning in your next dish.

It will make the meal taste much better than if you were to use salt or pepper alone.

what does old bay taste like

What Does Old Bay Taste Like? Does Old Bay Seasoning Taste Good?

4.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Food Taste
Servings 1 Serving


  • Old bay seasoning
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