With spice grinder in hand, Gustav Brunn traveled to America from Germany, and settled down in Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay. There on the bay steamed crabs are a staple. So Gustav started grinding. In 1939 Gustav found just the right mix for his top secret blend of spices that for generations would be the most used seasoning on steamed crabs, shrimp, lobster and other tasty seafood dishes.

But the celery salt-based blend is not just for seafood, according to McCormick & Co., which purchased Old Bay in 1990. You can also use the blend on chicken, french fries, popcorn, baked potatoes, deviled eggs, hamburgers, and even pizza. If you’ve got a recipe that requires Old Bay, but don’t have any in the cupboard, head to the spice cabinet and throw these ingredients together to make the perfect clone. Here are a few variations:

Old Bay Seasoning Recipe


Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in a sealed container. Makes 4 teaspoons. Mix 50:50 with coarse salt when seasoning crabs.

Copy-Cat Old Bay Seasoning


  • 1 Tbsp. Celery Seed
  • 1 Tbsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 6 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. Whole Cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. Mustard Seed
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 tsp. Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Mace

Preparation: In a spice grinder or small food processor, combine all of the ingredients. Grind well and store in a small glass jar. Mix 50:50 with coarse salt when seasoning crabs.

Large Batch of Crab Seasoning


  • 1 lb. Coarse Salt (small rock salt)
  • 5 oz. Crushed Red Pepper
  • 3 oz. Dried Mustard
  • 1 1/2 oz. Ginger
  • 1 oz. Black Pepper
  • 1 oz. Celery Flakes
  • 1 oz. Onion Flakes
  • 1/2 oz. Celery Seeds
  • 1/2 oz. Crushed Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 oz. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 oz. Paprika
  • 1/2 oz. Thyme
  • 1/2 oz. Mace

Preparation: Makes two pounds of seasoning for about six dozen crabs. Mix well and store in an airtight jar until ready for use.

Note: Do not add additional salt when steaming crabs.

Seafood Seasoning Blend


  • 1 Tbsp. Ground Bay Leaves
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Celery Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Mace (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom (optional)


Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container. Use with seafood or chicken. Yield: 1/4 cup. Mix 50:50 with coarse salt when seasoning crabs.

Photo by Steve Snodgrass – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)