If you boast of having complete knowledge and stock of spices and seasonings, you must know what Cajun seasoning is! If not, then we’ll safely assume you’ve never tried cooking good ‘ole southern food.
Kidding aside, we don’t judge anyone’s spice knowledge, and we would love to give insight on Cajun! If you have none of this fantastic seasoning at home, you can get started with a Cajun seasoning substitute.
Are you excited to know what alternatives you can use? Check out our list!
- What’s Cajun Seasoning?
- The 6 Best Cajun Seasoning Substitute List
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping It Up
What’s Cajun Seasoning?
If you’re not familiar with Cajun seasoning, this is a rustic spice blend made of cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, pepper, and garlic powder. It’s essential in numerous Louisianian cuisine, enhancing the flavors of dishes and giving them a mild spice. You can also use Cajun seasoning in other cuisines, like Creole dishes. (*)
Fun fact: While native to Louisiana, Cajun seasoning is influenced by Native American, African, and French cuisine. The components are generally the same, but spices can differ from brand to brand. Regardless, Cajun seasoning would have a unique savory, smoky, and spicy flavor anyone would enjoy.
In case you have no Cajun seasoning, but your recipe requires it, you can use a Cajun seasoning substitute like:
The 6 Best Cajun Seasoning Substitute List
1. Creole Seasoning
Think of Creole seasoning as Cajun’s modern cousin, made of more European herbs. It will also have a milder flavor and different seasoning, with Creole relying on herbs like basil, bay leaf, and oregano. Even if Creole has more of an African and Native American influence, it doesn’t have as much heat.
However, Creole seasoning shares many ingredients with Cajun seasoning, giving it a similar flavor profile. Since it has a milder flavor and spice level, we recommend adding cayenne pepper or dried chili peppers to your recipe. You can use a 1:1 ratio when using Creole seasoning as a Cajun seasoning substitute.
If you’re looking for the most similar flavor profile, Creole seasoning is the way to go. However, it may not be as readily available as other substitutes here. If you can’t find Cajun seasoning, chances are, you can’t find Creole seasoning as well.
2. Old Bay Seasoning
Old Bay seasoning is another excellent Cajun seasoning substitute and is an ingredient for many dishes. McCormick and Company introduced this versatile seasoning to us in 1939. While the company keeps its recipe secret, we know it’s a blend of 14 spices, including black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, paprika, and celery salt… And that’s all we know!
You can sprinkle Old Bay seasoning over fries, fish, shrimp, and our very own favorite… CRAB BOIL! Heck, you can sprinkle Old Bay seasoning over popcorn as it’s such a versatile blend.
Since it tastes a bit different from Cajun seasoning, you can add ground fennel and dried thyme for a unique flavor. We recommend using Old Bay Seasoning for its more complex flavors that add an impressive kick to your recipe.
It’s easy to find Old Bay seasoning in your local supermarket, or you might already have it in your spice rack, too.
3. Adobo Seasoning
Adobo seasoning is Cajun seasoning’s Latin American relative, originating from marinating meats in spices and vinegar to preserve them.
Just like Cajun seasoning, adobo seasoning is a blend of New World and European influences, containing similar ingredients to Cajun and Creole seasonings. Some of the most notable common ingredients include cumin, garlic, oregano, and sometimes turmeric.
That said, adobo seasoning contains more salt than Cajun seasoning. Moreover, it will also give more of a Mexican or Southwestern flavor than Louisianan!
We recommend lessening the amount of salt and adding paprika and cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to your recipe if you’re already using adobo seasoning. Again, you can use a 1:1 ratio when using as a Cajun seasoning substitute.
4. French Four Spice
This is called “quatre epices” in French; we use this spice blend in French cuisine. It consists of nutmeg, dried ginger, cloves, and either white or black ground pepper (sometimes both).
A few French Four Spice makers create variations of allspice, which we find in Middle Eastern countries. While it’s a great Cajun seasoning substitute, it’s pricier. If you’re on a budget, you may want to try something else from our list.
5. Chili Powder
Chili powder isn’t the best substitute, however, it will do when you’re in a pinch because you most likely have this in your spice rack already. This pepper consists of ancho chili peppers and oregano, like Cajun’s seasoning paprika and cayenne pepper.
Expect a bit of heat, but not too much that you’ll reach for a liter of milk. We personally like the spice, but again, it doesn’t embody the similar flavors of Cajun seasoning.
If you want to match the flavor of Cajun seasoning a bit more, create this mix:
- One tablespoon of chili powder
- One teaspoon of dried thyme
- About ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- Add a dash of paprika if desired
6. Create a Cajun Seasoning Substitute
No time to head to the supermarket to purchase Cajun seasoning or any of these substitutes? You can make your own Cajun seasoning substitute with seasonings and spices you can easily find in the supermarket. (*)
While you can find other Cajun seasoning recipes, we love this one for its simplicity and similar flavor profile. We also recommend this Cajun seasoning recipe because it fits virtually all kinds of diets! It’s vegan and keto-friendly, low-carb, and free from gluten, dairy, and sugar (this is optional), among other preservatives as well.
Follow this recipe:
- One teaspoon of onion powder
- One teaspoon of garlic powder
- One teaspoon of dried basil
- ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- ¼ to one teaspoon of black or white pepper
- Cayenne pepper or red chili pepper flakes for more heat, if desired
- Paprika, if you want more smokiness
- Simply mix all these spices in a small bowl and store it in an airtight container, typically a glass jar with a tight cover. It will last for up to one year if stored properly.
- Store your homemade Cajun seasoning in a cool, dark area, like your kitchen cupboard. Don’t expose your spice blend above a stove or under direct light, as this has your spices to lose their flavor and potency.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you want to learn more about Cajun seasoning? To add, here are our frequently asked questions:
1. Can I skip on Cajun seasoning?
Yes, you may skip on Cajun seasoning in your recipe, but we do NOT recommend it at all unless you want a slightly bland dish. Come on, guys, it’s easy to find a Cajun seasoning substitute, and you can look at your spice rack for some ideas. We want the best for you and don’t want your dishes missing that pizzazz for you and your loved ones to enjoy each bite.
2. What dishes use Cajun seasoning?
Cajun seasoning (and its substitutes) are a must for tons of recipes! Check out these recipe ideas to make next time (or today):
- Slow-cooked shredded Cajun chicken
- Creamy Cajun shrimp pasta
- Cajun fries
- Season it over potato wedges or vegetables
- Add Cajun seasoning over eggs or for egg-stuffed peppers
- Cajun Jambalaya
- Seafood boil (our favorite)
- Authentic New Orleans Gumbo
- And so much more!
3. Is Cajun seasoning healthy?
We don’t recommend eating Cajun seasoning straight from the bottle (even if someone dared you to), but it’s actually pretty nutritious when you break down its components. Furthermore, some of Cajun seasoning’s components have traces of protein, fiber, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E!
Pro-tip: Cajun seasoning helps with inflammation and constipation, but it's a bit spicy for some people. We recommend finding less spicy versions of Cajun seasoning if you're sensitive to spice. Don't worry, they exist!
Wrapping It Up
For Louisiana’s southern cuisine fanatics, you’ve got Cajun seasoning to thank for the enhanced savory flavors it brings to your favorite dishes. While it’s readily available in most major supermarkets, there are reasons why some people can’t use to find Cajun. Whatever the case, you’ll benefit from a handy Cajun seasoning substitute.
If you found our Cajun seasoning substitute list helpful, wait ‘til you see what else we have in store for you in our other blog posts here at Nomspedia!