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BEST Creole Seasoning Substitutes + 2 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of creole seasoning substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.

The best substitute for creole seasoning is making your own blend from scratch with ingredients like paprika, thyme, and garlic powder. If you have cajun seasoning, it’s very similar, just slightly spicier and less herbaceous. Blackening seasoning is also a solid option if you don’t mind a dark crust.

The Experiment

I made a batch of popcorn to try out different creole seasoning substitutes (if you’ve only ever had salty popcorn, you’re missing out!).

Creole seasoning is a popular spice blend in Louisiana cuisine. It brings a spicy, savory kick, with hints of earthiness, sweetness, and herbaceous notes in between. Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Homemade Creole SeasoningEasy to make, can last for two months10/10
Cajun SeasoningPacks a spicier punch9/10
Blackened SeasoningHerby, forms a black crust when fried8/10
Old Bay SeasoningMore savory, typically used with seafood8/10

Read Next: How To Get Seasoning To Stick To Popcorn

Homemade Creole Seasoning

You can’t go wrong with making your own homemade creole seasoning blend. Believe it or not, you likely already have most of the herbs and spices you need:

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 4 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper (amount can be varied)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Some recipes simply combine all the spices together, but I follow The Daring Gourmet’s lead and blitz them into a fine powder with my spice grinder. I find that it blends better into sauces when it’s got a finer texture.

And as a bonus, there are no preservatives in this homemade blend, but it’ll still last for up to two months in an airtight jar.

How to Substitute: Replace creole seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with the homemade version.

Cajun Seasoning

Meet Creole’s charismatic cousin, cajun seasoning. Both blends have a lot in common, like the presence of spices such as paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder.

But while creole seasoning has a herby twist with ingredients like oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary, cajun seasoning is more spice-focused and uses more cayenne pepper plus white pepper.

It’s a fantastic substitute in dishes that celebrate heat, like jambalaya or gumbo. And if you want to bridge the gap between cajun and creole seasoning, consider adding a touch of whatever dried herbs you have lying around.

Psst… I also have a great article on substitutes for cajun seasoning.

How to Substitute: Replace creole seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with the cajun seasoning.

Blackening Seasoning

Taking a culinary journey down south, we stumble upon another gem – blackening seasoning. Think of it as the love child of creole and cajun. It has prominent herbaceous notes, with a peppery kick that’ll wake up your taste buds. 

The biggest difference between blackened seasoning and creole seasoning is alluded to in the name: the seasoning will create a dark crust on whatever you apply it to, making it look burnt. But don’t worry – it won’t taste burnt!

Psst… because I didn’t cook my popcorn no crust formed, but I have seen the crust before on fish and loved it.

How to Substitute: Replace creole seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with the blackening seasoning.

Old Bay Seasoning

Sailing from the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, Old Bay seasoning is another spice blend you can use in place of creole seasoning.

It has a deep, fiery color like creole because it also contains paprika and cayenne pepper, but it leans more savory than spicy. It also has a characteristic warmth, thanks to the presence of comforting spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and allspice.

This spice blend is mostly paired with seafood, but it’s just as versatile as creole seasoning. It was great over my popcorn, but you can also sprinkle it over fries, potato chips, and even roasted veggies.

How to Substitute: Replace creole seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with the Old Bay seasoning.

Other Substitute Options

The substitutes I’ve listed above are the closest you can get to Creole seasoning. But if you happen to have the following blends on hand, you can tweak them a bit to get a decent substitute.

  • Adobo Seasoning: This Latin staple is a blend of garlic, oregano, and black pepper, bringing a flavor profile reminiscent of creole seasoning. But to further creole-fy it, you can mix it with some onion powder, cayenne, and a dash of thyme.
  • Mexican Spice: Another Latin staple, but this time, it focuses on the heat with ingredients like chili powder and ground chipotle peppers. Again, to better mimic the flavor of creole seasoning, mix in some paprika, dried thyme, basil, and rosemary.
  • Greek seasoning: This Mediterranean blend will take you halfway there, but you’ll need to add cayenne pepper and paprika to bring it closer to creole seasoning. Greek seasoning also has a lightly citrusy kick from the dried dill. 
  • Italian seasoning blend: This classic blend is made of the usual herbs you’ll see in creole seasoning. It’s just missing the cayenne and paprika for heat and smokiness, which you can easily add.

Substitutes To Avoid

The following spice blends are undeniably tasty, but I thought their flavor strayed too far from Creole’s zesty, herby kick to work as a substitute.

  • Individual spices: Since Creole seasoning is a blend, I wouldn’t recommend replacing it with just cayenne pepper or paprika. These spices won’t add much flavor or depth if you use them alone.
  • Herbs de Provence: I’ve mentioned spice blends above that you could tweak to make them mimic Creole seasoning, but this French blend was too different with ingredients like fennel seeds, marjoram, tarragon, and lavender.

Best Creole Seasoning Substitutes + 2 To Avoid

I tested several different Creole seasoning substitutes. I also found an easy homemade version you can try.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: creole seasoning substitutes, substitutes for creole seasoning
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 11kcal


  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  • Place all of the spices in a coffee grinder. Pulse until you get a find powder. Store in an airtight jar and use within 2 months.


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 11kcal

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