There’s a chance you may not know what Old Bay Seasoning is—especially if you don’t hail from the east coast. See, the Maryland-born spice is one of the most versatile spice blends out there that is primarily known for jazzing up seafood. After all, it is named after a ship line on the Chesapeake Bay. The spice blend dates back to 1939 after a German refugee and spice merchant in Europe named Gustav Brunn fled to Baltimore, Maryland. Then, in 1990, McCormick & Company bought the spice, which led to nationwide distribution. The original recipe—which is still the recipe used today—contains 18 spices, but one glance at the label will show that only five official ingredients are listed: celery salt, paprika, red pepper, black pepper, and…”spices.” Who knows what that combination of spices could actually be? It’s still a tantalizing secret, but we asked a chef to share how you could make your own copycat version at home!
To give us a bit more clarity on what all could be in the seasoning, as well as how you can use it, we called on the head chef of Hello Fresh, Claudia Sidoti.
What is in Old Bay Seasoning?
There are many homemade and DIY versions of Old Bay recipes around the internet, so Sidoti gave us her own idea of how to make your own copycat version. “Celery salt, black pepper, dry mustard, mace and/or cinnamon, crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, and paprika,” says Sidoti. OK, so that gives us a little more context of all of the flavors that are swirled into this savory blend. Mystery solved!
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What are some creative ways to use Old Bay seasoning?
We asked Sidoti to provide a list of foods and even a cocktail that pairs well with the seasoning, and don’t worry, she made it clear that there really isn’t such a thing as too much seasoning.
“The amount used varies depending on the recipe and the volume, but I recommend using it assertively to get maximum flavor,” advises Sidoti. “If you’re unsure, taste as you go and add more as desired. There are so many uses for Old Bay Seasoning!”
- Spice up a Bloody Mary.
- Add a pinch to chowders.
- Toss it into fresh popcorn.
- Sprinkle it on freshly baked crinkle fries.
- Add some to your potatoes, whether they’re roasted or mashed.
- Stir it into cream cheese for a unique take on the spread.
- Sprinkle over deviled eggs, scrambled eggs, and omelets.
- Sprinkle it over fried shrimp, or mix it into mayonnaise or aioli.
- If you’re baking chicken wings, sprinkle some on before putting them in the oven.
- Serve it with grilled corn on the cob.
- Use it to amp up summer potato, chicken, or pasta salads.
- There is always the traditional use, too, which is an old-fashioned crab or shrimp boil.