Before living in the D.C. area, I’d never tried Old Bay Seasoning. However, I quickly learned about its cult-like following in the Mid-Atlantic, where the spice blend is sprinkled on succulent blue crabs and many other foods. Not surprisingly, Old Bay’s popularity has spread beyond being a regional favorite. There’s even an “Old Bay Nation” fan page on the seasoning company’s site.
Old Bay was started by Gustav Brunn, a German spice maker who escaped the Nazis and immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1930s with his hand-cranked spice maker in his suitcase. Brunn settled in Baltimore and created the addictive seasoning, best known for its use on crab, shrimp, lobster and chicken. Old Bay takes its name from a defunct Chesapeake Bay steamship line, and McCormick now owns the brand.
And though it’s popular on the East Coast, as the Old Bay Instagram shows, it’s for anyone “who needs some spice in their life”:
So, what’s in Old Bay Seasoning? Mystery spices, of course! The official ingredient label lists celery salt, paprika and “spices (including red pepper and black pepper).” But supposedly those other non-pepper spices are mustard, bay leaves, pimento, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom and cinnamon.
Regardless of what’s in the seasoning, the taste of hot, freshly cracked crab meat sprinkled with Old Bay is pretty unforgettable. And there are plenty of lesser known uses for Old Bay that you might not have considered. I’m not getting anywhere near the Old Bay ice cream sandwich, but these other recipe ideas sound pretty good:
1. Snack Food
You can buy Old Bay cheese curls. But how about making some healthier popcorn snacks? Old Bay’s company site has a recipe for a salty/sweet caramel popcorn. Personally, this popcorn recipe from Vodka and Biscuits with Old Bay, parmesan, avocado and coconut oils and garlic salt sounds even more my speed. Or how about some Chex and pretzels party snack mix or Old Bay-flavored potato chips?
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2. Biscuits And Crackers
Old Bay and anything carb-based sounds good to me. As do these recipes for cheese straws (a Southern specialty) and a cheesy, cookie-like “wafer” from Butter and Baggage. Or how about some cheddar and Old Bay biscuits?
3. Salads And Vegetables
OK, so it says right on the Old Bay can that the seasoning is “for seafood, poultry, salads, [and] meats.” But I wouldn’t think to put Old Bay on salad, so these veggie-based recipe ideas are a revelation to me.
How about this turkey salad from The Right Recipe with artichokes, celery, green onions and peppers, mustard and mayo plus Old Bay a few other things? Or zippy kale chips? Of course, Baltimore coleslaw combines Old Bay with jalapeno, celery, cabbage, carrots and onions. And there’s always grilled corn on the cob rolled in butter and Old Bay.
How about adding Old Bay to soup? Cream of crab seems like a natural. And Old Bay can easily be a secret chili ingredient with its versatile array of spices. But I like the look of this lighter tomato, vegetable and crab soup from Savoring the Good.
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I’m not so sure about the idea of Old Bay lemonade, though it sounds as summery as sipping Flying Dog Brewery’s Old Bay beer. Using the spice in Home Made Interest’s Bloody Mary is just common drinking sense. And there are also Old Bay Micheladas or martinis if you desire something harder.
Old Bay and potatoes would seem to pair nicely, especially considering spuds are often included in a seafood feast. Try scalloped potatoes dusted with Old Bay or French fries liberally sprinkled with the seasoning. And how about potato salad? An eggless Old Bay potato salad with potato chips, or a loaded mayo and egg version both look tasty. So does this recipe for potato salad olives and sour cream from This Is How I Cook.
Several Marylanders suggested sprinkling Old Bay in hummus to me, which sounds like a great combo. Popsugar Food’s YouTube channel shared the video (below) for making an Old Bay hummus dip. Or you can go heavier with crab dip and pita chips. Old Bay’s party dip with sour cream looks easy to make.
One unique and light use of Old Bay would be in fresh salsa. This list suggests making one with sweet onion, white wine vinegar, peaches and yellow tomatoes.
Let’s hear it for Old Bay and eggs! Take On E dresses up scrambled eggs with Old Bay, tomatoes and goat cheese. Or incorporate it into deviled eggs. This crab and eggs Benedict with Old Bay hollandaise looks divine. And so does this crab and shrimp quiche.
Which recipe do you want to try?