How To Make The Best Creole Seasoning And Substitutes

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Creole seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that is used in Cajun cooking and Creole dishes. It is thought to have originated in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, in the early 1800s. This is how to make the best creole seasoning and substitutes.

white bowl on a wooden board with How To Make The Best Creole Seasoning And Substitutes

The original recipe for Creole seasoning is unknown, but it is believed to contain the main ingredients of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, basil, and thyme. I add oregano (my favorite). Most of these can be found in local grocery stores.

Creole seasoning is often used to season meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. It can also be used to make sauces, marinades, and rubs. Creole seasoning is a versatile ingredient that can add flavor to various dishes. The flavor profiles are really elevated by the simple blend of common ingredients. It is a pantry staple with its spicy flavor and is perfect for savory dishes. 

What Is The Main Difference Between Creole And Cajun Seasoning

The main difference between these two Southern flavors is peppers vs. herbs.

side by side photos of fresh basil and whole peppercorns

Cajun seasoning tends to be heavy on the peppery side of life. You will often find black pepper, red pepper, and white pepper. It is a fantastic seasoning on meat rubs – created and flavor-bursting blackened crust on the grill. It adds a kick to other proteins, vegetables, and sauces.

Creole seasoning is heavy on herbs. It is a perfect blend of earthy and spicy. I love to add this seasoning to my alfredo sauce, jambalaya, and chicken linguini. Add creole seasoning to a mix of lemon juice and light olive oil for a delicious salad dressing.

​In-Depth Look At The Spices Of Creole Seasoning

There are nine (9) spices used to make this delicious creole seasoning blend. Let’s take a closer look at each one.


Wooden board with a tablespoon of salt

Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride. It is a crystalline solid that is highly soluble in water. Salt is essential for human health, as it helps to regulate blood pressure and fluid balance. It is also used as a food additive, a preservative, and a flavoring agent.

Salt is found in seawater and in salt deposits on land. It can be mined or extracted from seawater. Salt is a valuable commodity and has been traded for centuries. It has also been used in religious ceremonies and as a form of currency.

Salt is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes. It can be used to season meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and grains. It can also be used to make sauces, marinades, and rubs.

Black Pepper

Wooden board with a tablespoon of black pepper

Black pepper is a fruit (peppercorn) that is grown on a flowering vine. The peppercorn is then dried and sold either whole or ground. It is a good source of manganese which aids in bone health and is full of vitamins and minerals. And black pepper can help lower blood glucose levels – great for diabetics. 

Apart from the health benefits, sprinkling black pepper on your food adds so much flavor. It is earthy, spicy, piney, and with a slight citrus note. Siff it through your nose and you are bound to sneeze. 

Onion Powder

Wooden board with a tablespoon of onion powder to make the best creole seasoning and substitutes.

Onion powder is a great way to add onion flavor to a dish that requires a smoother texture. It packs a punch of flavor with each use and it is an excellent addition to spice blends. It can be made by roasting and/or dehydrating onions of any variety – yellow, red, or white. 


Wooden board with a tablespoon of of paprika to make the best creole seasoning and substitutes.

Paprika is a spice made from the dried and ground fruit of sweet red peppers. It is a popular ingredient in many cuisines, including Hungarian, Spanish, and Mexican cuisine. It is often used to add color and flavor to dishes, and it can also be used as a natural food coloring.

Paprika is a good source of vitamins A and C, and it also contains small amounts of other nutrients, such as potassium and iron. It is a low-calorie food, and it is fat-free. Paprika can be purchased in either ground or whole form. Ground paprika is the most common form, and it is used in a variety of dishes, such as sauces, soups, stews, and marinades.

Whole paprika is less common, but it can be used in dishes where a more intense flavor is desired. 

There are a few different types:

  1. Sweet
  2. Hot
  3. Hungarian
  4. Smoked

Garlic Powder

Teaspoon of garlic powder on a wood board to make the best creole seasoning and substitutes.

Garlic powder is made by dehydrating cloves of garlic and is used to enhance the flavor profile of many dishes. It is convenient to use instead of peeling and chopping garlic which can be time-consuming. 

Because of the long shelf life, most people have this spice on hand. It is a great addition to many spice blends. 

Cayenne Pepper

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to make to make the best creole seasoning and substitutes.

Cayenne peppers are one of the spicy favorites to grow in the garden. They are hot with a Scoville number ranging between 30,000-50,000 (about the same as a Serano). For reference, a jalapeno is 5,000. 

The cayenne peppers are dehydrated and ground to make up cayenne powder. Consuming cayenne peppers is good for your health, not only will they clear your sinuses but they can help lower your blood pressure. Native Americans have used cayenne peppers in food and healing practices for thousands of years.

Using just a little can really enhance the flavor profile of your food – creole cuisine is all about a flavor punch. 


1/2 tablespoon of oregano

Oregano is endemic to the Mediterranean region but is cultivated in other areas of the world with similar climates – Turkey, India, and parts of Asia. It is also a very common herb grown in gardens around the United States. Oregano is quite prolific when planted in a garden bed – mine has taken over many of my beds (it’s a perennial). This herb boasts beautiful purple flowers that the bees love! I harvest and dry it to use when cooking.

It is my absolute favorite herb. The flavors are earthy, pungent, peppery, and slightly minty. It pairs well with just about any dish. 


1/2 tablespoon of basil

Basil is native to the subcontinent of India but is grown all over the world as a popular kitchen herb. It has a fast growth rate and loves to be cut often – the purple flowers attract many pollinating insects. Basil is a great herb to dry and store for the whole year – its flavor intensifies when dried and ground.

The flavors of basil are woodsy, licorice, anise, slightly spicy, and minty – to me, it has a similar flavor profile to thyme and oregano.


1/2 tablespoon of thyme

Thyme is an ancient herb native to the Mediterranean region but is grown all over the world today in gardens. It was used for embalming by the ancient Egyptians, burned as sage, and bathed in by the Greeks. Tyme is thought to represent courage. 

It is a popular herb choice in a variety of dishes with a woodsy and lemony flavor. Thyme tastes great in meat rubs, on roasted vegetables, in salad dressings, and in spice blends.   

Ingredients To Make Creole Seasoning

The best creole seasoning and substitutes ingredients

Ingredients to make your own creole seasoning blend (yield 1/2 cup):

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (adjust to your spice level)
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme


-For a milder flavor profile add less cayenne.

-Paprika (crushed bell peppers) can be either sweet or hot. Use what you like, I use sweet.  Hot paprika is a good alternative to cayenne for a different spicy kick.

Instructions On How To Make Creole Seasoning

mixing the best creole seasoning spices in a white bowl
  1. Combine all of the ingredients for a homemade creole seasoning recipe in a small bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container such as a mason jar and keep in a dry place like a spice cabinet.


-Makes a really great gift!

-Use a spice grinder

Cute Piggy whisk

Alternative Spices To Add To Creole Seasoning

For a bold flavor or unique flavor try some of these:

  • White pepper
  • marjoram
  • celery salt or celery seed
  • crushed chili peppers
  • red pepper flakes
  • bay leaves
  • Sweet paprika
  • Dry mustard
  • Greek seasoning

Creole Seasoning Substitute Suggestions

1/2 cup of the best creole seasoning

Add in some of these different spices, most of you have in your spice rack or you can find them at the local grocery store. Here are some of the best substitutes and popular blend of spices:

  • Cajun seasoning blends (or homemade cajun seasoning)
  • Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning – Ingredients are salt, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and silicon dioxide (anti-caking). No MSG
  • Slap Ya Mama Creole Seasoning – uses all-natural spices, no MSG, and has a cajun flavor.
  • Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning – this seasoning uses natural and flavor enhancers.
  • Old Bay seasoning (very good substitute)
  • A mix of Chili powder, Italian seasoning, and paprika.
  • Adobo seasoning (salty, spicy, and sweet)

​What Dishes Love Creole Seasoning

There are so many different dishes that pair so well with creole seasoning. Not only creole cooking or cajun cuisine benefit from these delicious homemade spice blends but here are some other dishes to add this depth of flavor:

mason jar of the best creole seasoning and substitutes.

Wrapping Up How To Make The Best Creole Seasoning And Substitutes

This Creole spice mix is great to have on hand to enhance just about any dish you are making. The spicy flavors are rich not burn your mouth hot – just a perfect blend for all your Creole foods. I have listed several different options with similar ingredients – each would make a great substitute. 

Creole seasoning on a white plate

When you make your own seasoning, you get to choose the key ingredients. Individual spices like salt or cayenne can be modified for your personal preference. The most important thing to note is not to be afraid to season your cooking, taste as you go, and enjoy!



Recipe Card For How To Make The Best Creole Seasoning And Substitutes

white bowl of creole seasoning
5 from 2 votes

How To Make The Best Creole Seasoning And Substitutes

This creole seasoning is the perfect blend of flavors without being too spicy. Add as little or as much heat as you like. It is easy to make (simple ingredients) and goes well on so many dishes.
Yield: 1/2 cup
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Total Time:10 minutes


  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Sweet Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Basil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Thyme


  • Measure out the spices and herbs into a bowl.
  • Mix completely and store in an airtight container.


See the full post for alternatives and suggestions.
  • Double the recipe for more!
Course: Seasoning
Cuisine: Creole
Keyword: Cajun, Creole, Jambalaya, Louisiana, Seasoning blend
Author: Sarah

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