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What Is Cajun Seasoning & Suitable Substitutes

alternatives, replacements and substitutes for Cajun seasoning

We all have those seasonings in our spice rack that are sort of unknown to us, so I thought why not get to know them a bit better? Then if I run out of Cajun seasoning for example, I can replace it with other spices.

Cajun seasoning is made from salt, paprika, garlic, black and white pepper, onion powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and then oregano, thyme and any other suitable herbs you like to add. You can mix the paprika to use smoked, sweet or hot.

Those peppery and pungent chili flavors are what comes through and the salt is essential to aid the marinating process. Let’s look more closely at how those flavors work together and see if we can make our own recipe.

An Alternative To Ready Made Cajun Seasoning

Using the spices you have available in your kitchen can be a cost effective way to replace Cajun seasoning. In general it is always possible to recreate these popular ready made mixes and then tweak them a little to suit your family. We find that the cayenne pepper can be a bit overpowering in ready made mixes, so this recipe is a suitable alternative for younger family members.

  • 1 tablespoon each of Paprika, Salt & Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons each Onion Powder, Thyme & Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, Ground Cumin, Black Pepper & White Pepper

This Cajun seasoning recipe works well for us, but you can add more cayenne to increase the heat, add smoked paprika to give a deeper flavor. You can change the dried herbs and add more if you fancy as well.

To make enough for gifts or to last for a little longer just increase the quantities whilst keeping those ratios. The flavors will last for around a year if stored in an airtight sealed container and kept in a cool and dark cupboard. Make sure to use ‘fresh’ spices though.

Alternatives To Cajun Seasoning
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Replacements For Cajun Seasoning

Nothing will be spot on ‘authentic’ but you are going for a hot and spicy mix that is inspired by the African, French and North African cuisine that is so predominant in Louisiana and the South. Think about warmth and depth of flavor. Cajun cooking is inspired by spices and herbs alongside fresh ingredients.

1. Make Your Own Cajun Seasoning

The best replacement for Cajun seasoning is to make your own with cayenne pepper and paprika. Bring the warmth without missing the garlic and herb notes as well. This way you can almost create a Creole seasoning and make it as hot or spicy as your family like.

2. Creole Seasoning – A Good Alternative To Cajun Spices

Next best replacement for Cajun seasoning is probably the gentler cousin, Creole seasoning. Creole seasoning has more herbs like dried basil and more oregano and thyme than you may find in Cajun seasoning. Although it does have the same ingredients the ratios are different and Creole may be a little lacking in heat, so try adding a bit of cayenne or chili flakes to the mix.

3. Chili Powder & Herbs

Chili powder mixed with a few dried herbs like thyme and oregano can work well as a substitute for Cajun seasoning. If you are cooking with fresh onions and garlic as well, all the better. This is not a situation where you need to be restricted to only using dried or ground ingredients. Try chili powder with fresh herbs, just add them a little later on and allow them to infuse the dish once it is cooking.

Replacements For Cajun seasoning

4. Cayenne Pepper To Replace Cajun Seasoning

Cayenne Pepper is a great substitute for Cajun seasoning, but do not go for a like for like ratio at all! Cayenne is packed with health benefits, but it gives all of the heat to Cajun seasoning.

If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of Cajun spice use 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. The extra benefit being not just the health and flavor but that vibrant color it will add as well.

5. Try Chilies & Celery Salt

For a healthier version than the ready made Cajun seasoning with all of that added salt, try celery salt and fresh chilies. Go for red chilies, red bell peppers and either fresh celery cooked in with your dish or celery salt used as a spice rub. You can then add your herbs fresh as well as large amounts of garlic and onions.

6. Hot Paprika & Fresh Herbs

Rather than using a smoked or sweet paprika, try using hot. We have the recipe for homemade paprika available here to see how it’s done, or buy a ready made mix. Then add plenty of fresh herbs chopped up and added as a garnish or towards the end of cooking.

7. Fajita Seasoning

Fajita seasoning offers a lot of the heat and spiciness of Cajun seasoning, but without the herbs. Go for a mix of 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning = 2 teaspoons fajita seasoning + 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.

8. Garam Masala & Chilies

This is more for if you are in a real tight spot and need something to add warmth and depth of flavor. Not the perfect substitute for Cajun seasoning in many ways, but it does offer spice and a bit of spice to your cooking.

9. Turmeric & Chilies

Ground turmeric will offer a mature, bitter flavor with a hint of warmth, add that to fresh red chilies and you have a good start to a Cajun spice mix. You will need to add garlic and herbs as well as a bit more in terms of paprika or cayenne. Be very aware that turmeric will stain everything it touches though!

Cajun Inspired Recipes

  • Jambalaya has to be the most popular Cajun and Creole dish we can think of. It has the classic stew ingredients and method but with so much spice and warmth packed in! This recipe for Jambalaya works so well with both fresh herbs and dried alongside Cajun spice mix and fresh chilies.
  • Gumbo is next on the list for popularity and depth of flavor. You could describe gumbo as like a jambalaya but one that sticks to your ribs. This is down to the roux and how you prepare this can add a real variety to the dish. This recipe offers that great thick warmer stew of a gumbo that comes with plenty of layers of flavor. A real Winter warmer.
  • In the South Crawfish are very popular and when cooked for friends and neighbors it can become a real event. Check out this recipe that uses 1/2 cup of Cajun seasoning!

What Next & Further Reading

I hope to have inspired you to try your own spice blend, if not then to at least feel confident to replace Cajun seasoning in poplar recipes. Why not comment below and let us all know how you get on? Thanks for reading, Alex

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