Pickling has been around for centuries.
The early days of pickling involved letting vegetables ferment in saltwater.
And nowadays, you don’t need to ferment anything because vinegar has replaced saltwater.
Most pickling spices are dried and ground – making it convenient to make your own or purchase pre-made at grocery stores or specialty shops.
Often the spices are tied together in a cheesecloth bag or placed inside a tea infuser.
The spices, which mimic the flavors of mustard seeds, dill seed, bay leaves, crushed red pepper flakes, grains of paradise, black peppercorns, and coriander seeds – can be used for more than just pickling.
They’re commonly used in brining poultry and pork.
If you’re not a pickling enthusiast, you can substitute the spices for other seasonings.
We’ve listed the top 5 best substitutes for pickling spices in this article.
What is Pickling Spice?
First and foremost, pickling spice is a blend of spices used to flavor dishes, specifically vegetables.
Many people use it to make pickles or other types of preserved vegetables.
Each recipe varies, but generally, the blend will contain bay leaves, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and mustard seeds.
Some varieties also have dried ginger root, coriander seeds, and red pepper flakes.
Pickling spices may also be referred to as:
- pickle seasoning.
- pickling spice blend.
- brine mix.
Pickling spices are found in the pickle section of grocery stores.
They may also be bought online or at specialty spice stores, like Penzey’s or The Spice House.
Some people choose to blend by mixing up many different individual spices.
Others will buy jars of already prepared pickling spices from local grocers, but checking the list of ingredients before purchasing is recommended.
Pickling spices are best stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
They can be kept for up to one year before they begin to lose their freshness and flavor.
Some people choose to leave the bay leaves because they will turn into mush when stored.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Pickling Spice
Depending on the recipe, there are many ways to substitute for pickling spices.
Try these five best substitutes:
1 – Cajun Seasoning
Cajun seasoning is a spice blend made of many different herbs and spices.
The ingredients may vary from region to region.
Still, the most traditional recipe will include salt, ground red pepper (cayenne), garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, oregano, paprika, thyme leaves, and sometimes, basil.
Cayenne is the most important ingredient in Cajun seasoning.
In addition, many people add a small amount of ground bay leaf or thyme to their blend.
It’s also crucial to note that this spice mixture will thicken when cooked for a long period due to the volume of spices used in its preparation.
Cajun seasoning can be used for many dishes, including rice, pasta, and vegetables.
It may even be added to soups or stews.
This is because Cajun spices are hot enough to help enhance the taste of almost any meal.
2 – Crab Boil Spices
Crab boil spices are a blend of many different spices, but the main ingredient is typically Old Bay Seasoning.
This particular seasoning contains celery salt, mustard seeds, bay leaves, coriander, and other peppers such as red pepper flakes.
Crab boil spices may be used for seafood dishes, including crab or shrimp.
They are also recommended for use on green beans or potatoes.
The three peppers found in Old Bay Seasoning are the most important ingredients to consider.
In addition, celery salt is used with vegetables and potatoes.
The main purpose of this ingredient is to enhance their flavor, which makes it a great substitute for pickling spices.
3 – Baharat Seasoning
Baharat is a seasoning blend originating from the Middle East.
It typically contains Aleppo pepper, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and ginger root.
Aleppo pepper has a very hot flavor, making this particular spice a great substitute for pickling spices.
Baharat can be purchased at any Middle Eastern market or online through Amazon.
This spice blend can season many types of meats, including chicken and lamb.
It may also be added to vegetables or soups for added flavor.
4 – Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
Jamaican jerk seasoning is a blend of hot peppers, allspice berries, herbs, and spices.
The most important ingredients are thyme, Scotch Bonnet peppers, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Jamaican jerk seasoning may be used to season anything fried or grilled, including chicken, pork, or beef.
This seasoning may also be added to many different vegetables or stews.
Scotch bonnet peppers are the main ingredient that gives Jamaican jerk its distinctive flavor.
This particular pepper is very spicy, so it should be used sparingly.
In addition, thyme is added for its complementary flavor properties.
The other ingredients are chosen because they carry thyme’s flavor into other dishes.
5 – Fines Herbs
Fines herbes is a classic French seasoning blend.
The ingredients typically include parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives.
It may also be made with basil or rosemary instead of all three herbs.
This seasoning mixture is best used for any meat, including chicken or seafood.
It may also be used to season vegetables or soups.
This is because it has a very light yet noticeable flavor that does not overpower other tastes in recipes.
When creating fines herbs, parsley is the most important ingredient to consider.
It can be used for nearly any meal and provides a fresh taste to the dish.
In addition, chervil is added for its delicate nature and ability to complement flavors such as celery, while tarragon enhances the other ingredients in many recipes.
Pickling spice is one of the most important spices to have on hand.
It can be used for various dishes, including meats and vegetables.
Many people enjoy pickles as well, so it’s essentially necessary if you want to eat this type of food.
Pickling spice adds a very distinct taste that can’t be found naturally in foods.
However, if you do not have pickling spice on hand but still want to make a dish with pickles, various substitutes are available.
Depending on the type of dish you want to make, one or more of the following spices may be added: celery salt, Old Bay seasoning, Baharat seasoning, Jamaican jerk seasoning, and fines herbs.