Here's What's Really In Old Bay Seasoning

Have you ever been to a good, old-fashioned seafood boil party? According to Eating Well, this is an event in which the host brews up a big ol' boiling pot of seafood — typically crabs, but lobster, shrimp, and bivalves such as clams can also be used — usually with the addition of starchy veggies such as potatoes and corn. Once everything's cooked to perfection, the whole is usually dumped out onto tables lined with newspaper, for the fixin's to be enjoyed family style.

If you've chowed down on one of these feasts, then you're likely familiar with a widely recognizable yellow can of flavor: Old Bay Seasoning, a proprietary blend of herbs and spices that, since its invention in 1939, has been widely used to season seafood boils, spice up Bloody Marys, jazz up popcorn, and so much more (via Eat This, Not That!).

Originally mixed up in the Chesapeake Bay area by German immigrant Gustav Brunn, Old Bay's blend of 18 flavorings has remained a secret ever since (via Allrecipes). But over the years, many home cooks have tinkered away to find their own versions of the commercial blend.

Celery salt, paprika, ground pepper, and more

If you want to mix up your own version of the famous seafood seasoning Old Bay at home, you'll want to start by revising your spice cabinet and making sure it's both fully, and freshly, stocked. Dried herbs and spices quickly start to lose their potency no matter how well you store them; according to Bon Appétit, ground spices shouldn't be kept on hand for more than three months, and whole spices no more than 10. In this recipe, where the dried seasonings really shine, you'll want to make sure all the ingredients are fairly recently purchased.

Now then: take a look and make sure you have celery salt, paprika, ground black pepper, and ground cayenne: These are the principal ingredients in the blend (via Allrecipes). Other than those, you'll need a pinch each of the following spices, all ground: dry mustard, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and ginger. Mix everything up in a bowl, store it in an airtight container, and go to town seasoning your favorite seafood dishes.