Elevate all your favorite seafood dishes with this homemade crab leg seasoning! Inspired by the classic Old Bay, this homemade cajun seasoning uses everyday spices. It adds a bold and savory zest to crab legs, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
I put this crab leg seasoning on virtually everything, from baked crab legs to sheet pan shrimp boils…even eggs! With a slightly milder flavor profile than Cajun seasoning, it also brings a new dimension to fries, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats.
Why I Love This Recipe
I don’t know what I would do without this crab leg seasoning recipe! It’s a staple in my kitchen, adding a unique flavor to crab and other seafood. Gone are the days of using store-bought cajun seasonings made with a laundry list of ingredients and high amounts of sodium.
This homemade version requires just a few common spices and a jar. Plus, it stores well and is easy to customize, so you can bet I always have it at the ready in my pantry.
This crab leg seasoning is the easiest way to bring a burst of flavor to your seafood dishes. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Celery salt: Brings a unique, slightly earthy, and savory flavor, making it a great base to build up the other spice profiles.
- Paprika: I use hot and smoked paprika to add a deep, smoky flavor and a touch of heat, perfect for complementing the sweetness of crab meat.
- Mustard powder: Provides a tangy sharpness that cuts through the richness of the crab, balancing the overall taste profile.
- Cayenne, black, and white pepper: This trio creates a layered pepper flavor, giving the seasoning a complex and well-rounded heat.
- Ground bay leaves: Impart a subtle, herbal note with hints of bitterness. If you can’t find ground bay leaves, grind whole leaves using a mortar and pestle.
- Ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg: These spices add depth and a hint of sweetness. Cinnamon brings warmth, cloves add a spicy, sweet aroma, and nutmeg offers a slightly sweet flavor.
- If you don’t have celery salt, replace it with two teaspoons of kosher salt plus one teaspoon of celery seeds.
- Red chili flakes can provide a similar heat as cayenne pepper. You may want to grind the chili flakes to better integrate them into the seasoning blend.
- Dried thyme or oregano can be used instead of bay leaves, but the flavor will vary.
- Allspice or mace can offer a warm, sweet note similar to cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
How to Make Seasoning for Crab Legs
The most important step in making the best homemade crab leg seasoning is starting with fresh spices. They should be well within their expiry dates and have a pungent aroma.
In a clean, dry container with a lid, combine all the spices. I like to use a mason jar for convenience, but a bowl also works.
Secure the lid and shake the container or whisk the mixture until the spices are thoroughly mixed. Your crab leg seasoning is ready to go!
To elevate your crab leg seasoning flavors even further, try dry-toasting some of the spices in a skillet before mixing them. This additional step helps release their essential oils, intensifying their flavors and aromas.
It makes a significant difference in the depth and complexity of your seasoning. Remember, the key is to toast the spices until they’re fragrant but not burnt to avoid bitterness.
- Ingredient quality: High-quality spices make a big difference. I recommend using organic spices whenever possible since they tend to have a richer flavor profile.
- Balance of flavors: Keep the spicy, sweet, and savory elements well balanced. Adjust the proportions slightly if you find that one flavor excessively dominates the seasoning.
- Spice grinding: Grind your spices fresh if you can! This releases essential oils, providing a more intense flavor than pre-ground spices.
- Low-sodium: You can decrease the sodium by using reduced-sodium celery salt.
- Salt-free: For a completely sodium-free alternative, omit the celery salt and slightly increase the other herbs and spices to compensate.
- Sweet: Add a pinch of brown or cane sugar for a subtle sweetness.
- Lemon zest: Include a teaspoon of dried lemon zest for a citrusy seafood twist.
Add a burst of flavor to your favorite dishes with this crab leg seasoning! Here are some of my favorite ways to use this recipe:
- Seafood: Generously sprinkle this seasoning on crab legs, crab cakes, in a low country shrimp boil, or on pan-seared scallops to infuse them with flavor.
- Veggie boost: Elevate any roasted or grilled veggies with a sprinkle of this seasoning.
- Eggs: Add a pinch to scrambled or deviled eggs for a unique twist.
- Snacks: Mix this seasoning into popcorn or sprinkle it over homemade potato chips for an irresistibly savory snack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this seasoning in bulk?
Definitely! This crab leg seasoning recipe is perfect for bulk preparation. Just multiply the ingredient quantities while keeping their proportions the same. This way, you’ll have a handy, larger batch ready whenever you need it.
Can I use this seasoning in place of Old Bay?
Absolutely! This seasoning is designed to closely mimic the flavors of Old Bay, allowing you to use it as a direct substitute in any recipe at a one-to-one ratio. It’s particularly handy if you’re looking for a lower-sodium alternative.
Is this seasoning suitable for a low-sodium diet?
By opting for the salt-free variation of this recipe, which involves omitting the celery salt and tweaking the other spices, you can make this seasoning suitable for a low-sodium diet.
If you store this crab leg seasoning in an airtight container and a cool, dry area, it can retain its flavor and potency for up to six months. I prefer keeping mine in my pantry, but a spice drawer or cupboard will do the trick!
More Condiments & Seasonings
Easy Crab Leg Seasoning (Old Bay Copycat)
- 1 tablespoon celery salt (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 tablespoon hot paprika
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons mustard powder
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground bay leaves (see Recipe Notes)
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Add all ingredients to a container with a lid. Shake or whisk until combined. I like to use a mason jar for convenience. Store at room temperature!
- Celery salt: 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon celery seeds can be substituted for the celery salt
- Bay leaves: If you are unable to find ground bay leaves, you can grind whole leaves using a mortar and pestle.