Eight decades ago, a Jewish immigrant fled Nazi Germany, bringing his metal spice grinder to his new home in Baltimore, Maryland. Looking for a new spice blend to sell, Gustav Brunn got an idea after talking with local vendors who sold crab and other seafood.

He created what we now know as Old Bay seasoning, to enhance the flavor of all that fresh seafood being sold in that port city to our south.

Eighty years later, Brunn’s rust-colored blend of paprika, celery salt and spices including mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom and cinnamon is still flavoring seafood, snacks, sauce, wings and all sorts of other dishes and products.

Old Bay seasoning is now owned and distributed by McCormick & Co. Inc., the Maryland-based spice corporation for whom Brunn worked briefly before developing his own spice mixture.

McCormick markets its own spices, along with such flavoring brands as French’s, Zatarain’s and Lawry’s. At this time of year, Old Bay is most closely associated with crabs — particularly Maryland blue crabs, liberally dusted with the spice and served up in a pile, atop a newspaper.

But in its 80 years of existence, Old Bay has branched out into new blends, the snack food industry and dishes served up in homes and restaurants.


From steamed blue crabs dusted to a dark brownish-orange to caramel popcorn infused with spices, Old Bay seasoning has found its way into lots of recipes over the years.

From appetizers to entrees to desserts, Old Bay flavors food with its secret recipe of paprika, celery salt and blend of a host of other spices.

So have Old Bay’s younger spicy cousins — the newer flavors in the Old Bay line, such as Hot Old Bay, and Old Bay with Lemon & Herb.

Here are a few recipes for entrees, appetizers and side dishes flavored with the distinctive taste of Old Bay.


Here’s the recipe David Gelatt of Lancaster uses when he makes his Old Bay boiled shrimp.



• 1/2 cup Old Bay seasoning

• Handful of mixed peppercorns

• 2 cut-up lemons

• 2 quarts water

• 1 cup (or so) of cider vinegar

• Head of garlic, peeled

• 1 stick of butter

• 2 pounds large shrimp

• Cocktail sauce and more Old Bay and cut-up lemons, for serving


In a large pot, mix Old Bay, peppercorns, lemons, water, vinegar, garlic and butter.

Bring to a boil and dump in shrimp.

Cover and cook about 4 minutes.

Drain and cool on counter, then in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Pour more Old Bay over the cooled shrimp and serve with lemons and cocktail sauce.


Here are some recipes from McCormick & Co., the Maryland-based spice business that distributes Old Bay seasoning.


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Makes 4 servings


• Water

• Vinegar

• 1 dozen live blue crabs

• 1/2 cup Old Bay seasoning


In a pot with a raised rack (minimum of 2 inches high) add equal quantities of water and vinegar to just below level of rack.

Bring to a boil.

Carefully layer crabs on rack; sprinkle each layer with Old Bay. Cover and steam 20 to 30 minutes depending on size of crabs or until crabs turn red.

Old Bay grilled pork tenderloin

Grilled pork tenderloin with bourbon-peach barbecue sauce is flavored with Old Bay.


Makes 8 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


For pork:

• 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds)

• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

• 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

• 1 tablespoon garlic chopped

For Bourbon Peach Barbecue Sauce:

• 1 cup peach preserves

• 1/4 cup bourbon

• 1/4 cup ketchup

• 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning


Rub pork with oil, then season with 1 tablespoon Old Bay and garlic.

Barbecue sauce: Mix preserves, bourbon, ketchup and 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay in small bowl.

Grill pork over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until desired doneness.

Brush with sauce during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.

Old Bay Grilled Veg

Old Bay isn't just for meat and seafood. It can also flavor grilled vegetables.


Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Makes 5 servings


• 1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks

• 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks

• 1 small yellow squash, cut into 1-inch chunks

• 1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning


Toss vegetables with oil and Old Bay in a large bowl.

Place vegetables in grill basket, on grill rack or thread onto skewers.

Grill over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, turning occasionally.


Makes 10 (1-cup) servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


• 3 pounds red potatoes cut in 1-inch cubes

• 1/2 pound green beans fresh or frozen

• 1 cup cucumber chopped

• 1/2 cup onion finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

• 4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning


Place potatoes in medium saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to boil. Cook 5 to 6 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.

Add green beans and cook an additional 3 minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, mix potatoes, beans and remaining ingredients. Cover.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Stir and serve.

Old Bay cilantro Lime Shrimp (grilled)

This lime-cilantro grilled shrimp is flavored with Old Bay.


Makes 4 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 6 minutes


• 1/4 cup olive oil

• 2 tablespoons lime juice

• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

• 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

• 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined


Mix oil, lime juice, cilantro and Old Bay in a small bowl. Place shrimp in large resealable plastic bag.

Add marinade; turn to coat well.

Refrigerate 15 minutes. (Marinate seafood no longer than 30 minutes.)

Remove shrimp from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers.

Grill skewers over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side or just until shrimp turn pink.

Serve shrimp with lime wedges and sprinkle with additional Old Bay, if desired.


Makes servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes


• 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

• 1 cup tomato ketchup

• 1/4 cup cider vinegar

• 1 tablespoon molasses honey or packed brown sugar

• 3 pounds bone-in chicken parts

• 1 tablespoon oil

• 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning


Mix 2 tablespoons of the Old Bay, ketchup, vinegar and molasses in medium bowl until blended. Set aside.

Brush chicken with oil. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon Old Bay.

Prepare grill for indirect medium-low heat (275-300 F).

Preheat grill by turning all burners to medium. Turn off burner or burners on one side. Place chicken on unlit side of grill. Close grill.

Grill 40 to 45 minutes or until internal temperature of thickest part of chicken is 165 F, turning occasionally. Move chicken to lit side of grill. Brush with barbecue sauce. Turn lit side of grill to high.

Grill uncovered 3 to 5 minutes longer or until chicken is charred, turning once and brushing with additional sauce.

Old Bay bruschetta

This shrimp bruschetta is seasoned with Old Bay.


Makes 24 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


• 1 pound cooked shrimp, finely chopped

• 1 plum tomato, finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

• 2 teaspoons olive oil

• 1 egg white

• 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1 loaf French bread

• 2 tablespoons mayonnaise


Heat oven to 350 F. Mix shrimp, tomato, green onion, olive oil, egg white, Old Bay and garlic powder in medium bowl until blended.

Slice bread into 24 (1/2-inch-thick) slices.

Place on baking sheet; broil until lightly toasted on both sides.

Spread lightly with mayo, then spoon shrimp mixture evenly over bread slices.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned.


Makes 10 (1-cup) servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 18 minutes


• 2 tablespoons butter

• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

• 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)

• 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)

• 2 ribs celery chopped (about 1 cup)

• 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

•  4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

• 1/4 cup flour

• 1 bay leaf

• 2 cups chicken broth

• 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk

• 3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

• 8 ounces lump crabmeat


Heat butter and oil in large saucepan on medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper, Old Bay and bay leaf; cook and stir 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Sprinkle with flour; cook 2 minutes stirring constantly.

Stir in milk and chicken broth. Bring to boil. Add corn and crabmeat.

Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Old Bay Can image 2019.jpg

Old Bay seasoning contains paprika, celery salt and spices including mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom and cinnamon.


The University of Rhode Island offers this recipe for jicama fries with a dash of Old Bay.



• 3/4 pound jicama, washed, peeled and julienned

• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

• 1/3 teaspoon olive oil

• 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

• Kosher salt and pepper to taste

• 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning


Heat oven to 400 F.

Place all ingredients in a bowl.

Toss until jicama is well coated with oil and seasonings.

Spread on a sheet pan in a single layer.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes.


From Herr’s foods in Nottingham, which makes snacks such as cheese curls, potato chips and popcorn seasoned with Old Bay, comes this recipe for seasoned calamari.


Makes 4 servings


For the calamari rings:

• 1 1/2 cups Herr’s Old Bay Seasoned Potato Chips, crushed

• 3/4 cup breadcrumbs

• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

•  Pinch of kosher salt

• Pinch of black pepper, ground

• 2 large eggs, beaten

• 15 ounces squid, cleaned and bodies cut into 1/2-inch rings, tentacles cut in half

For the coulis:

• 5 red bell peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded

• 10 fresh basil leaves

• 2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• Pinch of kosher salt

• Pinch of black pepper, ground


Prepare the coulis. Place roasted peppers and basil leaves in a blender and puree. Add oil slowly in a steady stream until thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Next, combine 2/3 of the potato chips with breadcrumbs. Process remaining chips with 2 tablespoons flour in food processor for a minute, then combine with remaining flour and season with salt and pepper.

Dip squid in the flour mixture, shake off excess, dip in eggs, then roll in bread crumb mix to coat well. Shake off excess crumbs. Place on wax paper.

Heat coulis and adjust seasonings. Deep-fry squid in 375 degree oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve calamari on heated plate with coulis as a dipping sauce. Garnish calamari with chopped parsley and the coulis with a pinch of potato chips.