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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC



Chesapeake Old Bay Spice Blend


This is a salt-free version of classic Maryland Old Bay seasoning, created by Gustav Brunn, who escaped Nazi Germany and opened his spice shop in Maryland in the 1930s.  Traditionally used to season local crabs and shrimp, I love to use this blend in my plant-based Chesapeake crab(less) salad, in Peruvian Causa Rellena, chowders, eggless omelettes, mocktails, and on whatever dishes call for some livening up.  Grind your spices fresh for the most potent flavor and nutritional punch.


Prep time 30 minutes to dry celery leaves, if using + 15 minutes

Makes about 1/3 cup


1 small dried bay leaf, stem removed (optional)*

1/3 packed cup celery leaves, chopped and oven-dried or 1 teaspoon celery seeds*

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds or dry mustard

¼ teaspoon freshly ground red chili, like Hungarian csipős, cayenne or similarly hot chilies, stems removed, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon dried ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon Ceylon (true) cinnamon (not cassia)

1/8 teaspoon ground mace

1/8 teaspoon green cardamom seeds

3 allspice berries

3 cloves


  • I prefer using celery leaves vs seeds, as the seeds can lend a bitter note, while the leaves are simply flavorful and aromatic. Similarly, go light on the bay leaf as while it lends a nice aroma, its taste can be bitter.


Preheat oven to 175°F. Bake the fresh celery leaves, if using, on a square of parchment for about 30 minutes or until they crumble easily. 


Using a coffee or spice grinder, grind the dried chili, including seeds, until it becomes fine flakes. Set aside.


Combine all ingredients in a coffee or spice grinder and grind until you have a coarse or finer powder. Taste and correct seasonings as you prefer. Store in a tightly lidded spice bottle or jar in a dark, cool, cupboard for up to 3 months, or in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Chesapeake Old Bay Spice Blend

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