Cajun Seasoning Substitutes: We Rank the Best

So, you’re making a delicious Cajun or Creole recipe that calls for a teaspoon or two of Cajun seasoning, but you’ve just checked your store cupboard and you are fresh out! That is quite the catastrophe. 

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However, that does not mean you need to give up! There are several different things you can do to create your own Cajun spice. Homemade Cajun seasoning can be amazing.

Keep on reading to find out our best substitutes for Cajun seasoning, plus a handy recipe to make your very own so you never run out of it again! 

How do you make your own Homemade Cajun Seasoning?

Making your own Cajun seasoning is a sure-fire way to make sure that you never run out of it again. Just make a huge batch of it and it will last for a long time!

Sure, it does look like it uses a lot of herbs and spices, but all of these are very easy to come by, and, likely, you will already have them in your store cupboard! Here is my homemade Cajun seasoning recipe. All you need is: 

  • Paprika or smoked paprika (4 tablespoons)
  • Onion powder (1 tablespoon)
  • Basil, dried (2 teaspoons) 
  • Cayenne pepper (at least 2 teaspoons but maybe more to taste depending on your preference for spice) 
  • Garlic powder or granules (2 teaspoons) 
  • Dried Oregano (2 teaspoons) 
  • Thyme, dried (2 teaspoons) 
  • Salt finely ground, not coarse (2 to 3 teaspoons depending on preferences) 
  • Ground white pepper or black pepper (1 teaspoon)

You need to combine all of the above, using whatever method you prefer. You can grind them with a pestle and mortar if you wish, but we just find this pointlessly messy. Our favorite method is to put each ingredient directly into a jar with a screw lid, place the lid on top, and shake it to within an inch of its life! 

Keep in mind that some commercial Cajun seasonings may include additives and even sugar or sweeteners. There is no need for you to add them unless you want to. If you decide to use sugar or sweetener, do not use more than one teaspoon if you are following the recipe above. 

You can use this homemade seasoning in place of store-bought Cajun seasoning in all of your favorite recipes. This spice blend or spice mix will keep for months, even years, but this Cajun seasoning blend may lose some flavor and aroma over time. I like this Cajun spice mix on chicken in place of blackened seasoning. This Cajun seasoning mix is one of my favorite homemade seasoning mixes. Cajun food never tasted so good. I think I need to go pick up some shrimp.

Creole seasoning 

Commercial Creole seasonings feature much of the same components as Cajun seasoning, and so can be used in a pinch if you are fresh out of Cajun seasoning but have some of the Creole stuff to hand. 

It may not have as much heat in there as Cajun seasoning may have, and so it may be best to also add in some crushed chilies or cayenne pepper if you have it. Use it like for like in place of Cajun seasoning. 

By this, we mean that for each teaspoon of Cajun seasoning, use a teaspoon of Creole seasoning, but with an added pinch of something with a bit of a spicy kick such as Cayenne. 

Old Bay seasoning 

Old Bay seasoning is a popular branded seasoning used across the United States. However, the flavor profile means that it works well in many Southern dishes.

As such, it shares many of the same key ingredients that Cajun and Creole seasonings use such as paprika, white pepper, and salt. It also features bay leaves which are similar to the herbs used in Cajun seasonings such as basil, thyme (dried thyme is fine), and oregano. 

If you desperately need Cajun seasoning but Old Bay is all you have to hand, try using one teaspoon of it in place of one teaspoon of Cajun seasoning. The flavor will not be exact, and you may find you need to add some garlic and cayenne pepper to get the flavor closer to what is needed, but it is a good substitute in a pinch. 

Cayenne pepper and paprika 

Cayenne pepper, along with paprika is two of the most important components of Cajun seasoning, and so if you have nothing else to hand, you can use the two together or separately in place of Cajun seasoning.

It will not give the same depth of flavor but will give the warmth and heat needed for your Cajun recipe. 

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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