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Which Penzey spices should I stock up on?

Ok, I'll admit it. I've usually grabbed my spices from the local supermarket. Functional but unremarkable. I just read in a local publication that we have a Penzey's in town (new or was I just out of the loop?)

What are some MUST HAVE spices to stock up on?

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  1. Any single spice that you would normally buy at the supermarket you can probably purchase in better quality at Penzey's. Bay leaves, for example, are often much better at Penzey's than in the typical jar sold at the supermarket. What really makes Penzey's distinctive, however, are the blends. Some are great; others I would skip completely.

    Favorites are the Italian Herb Mix, which is great for marinara sauces; lemon pepper; the various chili powders; and the various curry powders.

    One that I recommend avoiding is the Italian salad dressing mix, which is mostly sugar and salt. Some of the blends rely too much on those two ingredients, so make sure to read ingredient labels before buying any blends.

    1. The one thing that I've never found at a supermarket but found at Penzeys is Smoked Paprika. This is my new favorite spice to put on anything savory.

      It's a wonderful way to add a meaty, smokey taste, so I often reach for it when recipes call for bacon since I don't cook with bacon.

      Last night I made a quick guacamole with avocados, lemon juice, kosher salt and smoked paprika. So good!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kiwijen

        OH YES--the paprika! You have to get the smoked paprika! It is AMAZING!
        Also I love the chipotle powder.

        1. re: IndyGirl

          i also love the chipotle from penzeys, and the hot curries and garam masala blends. i like the fat turkish bay leaves too, the nutmeg is great and fresh, and the jamaican allspice is just wonderful.

        2. re: kiwijen

          I so agree with the Hungarian Smoked Paprika comment. As a Vegetarian, it allows me to have the smokiness usually associated with meat - but doesn't taste like it. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.
          Also I would definitely recomment, fresh nutmeg (not ground) and Garam Masala - one of the best things I've had. Their Chipotle spice is wondrous as well.

          1. re: kiwijen

            YES- definitely go for the smoked paprika. We just discovered it a few months ago, and it gives a lot of zip to many dishes. Good on devilled eggs, to.

            Don't miss the Tellicherry peppercorns.

            Work your way into it, since spices don't keep forever. You have no excuse to buy a supermarket spice, ever again!


          2. Oh, and Telicherry peppercorns. Peppercorns from Penzeys are so much better than supermarket ones.

            1. The ceylon cinammon and double-strength vanilla are special. The tellicherry perppercorns, as noted above. The Kashmiri saffron.

              I'm not a fan of their spice blends, although I end up using a lot of their herbes de provence out of laziness...

              1. Two words: Vietnamese Cinnamon! I've never gone throught cinnamon so fast in my life!

                11 Replies
                1. re: Katie Nell

                  Hi, Katie Nell! Same two words for me: Vietnamese Cinnamon!!! Penzeys carries several cinnamons/cassias, but it is the Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia that is AMAZING!!!! We are on our 4th or 6th jar...not counting...in a year or so! It is so much better than anything you will find in the market.

                  I also like their California Sweet Paprika...nice fragrance. I am not a huge fan of their mixes, but we do enjoy their Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base to shake on anything. Their double strength vanilla - or any of their vanillas - is another product worth buying there.

                  sheilal, you will be able to "sniff" everything in the store, A through Z, and then some!, so you can't go wrong with anything that grabs you! And you will know...but be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to play in the store -- an hour maybe!

                  1. re: liu

                    Follow your nose. I was surprised by some of the things I found - like the fact that I much preferred malabar peppercorns over tellicherry...and that the cinnamons were so very different from one another.

                    I use the Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon AND the Ceylon Cinnamon all the time, for different things.

                    I love the chipotle powder and the Aleppo peppers. And so many other things.

                    1. re: Snackish

                      Hi, Snackish! I was pleased to find that I could "sniff" the cinnamons side-by-side, because I KNEW that they would all be about the same. Boy, was I wrong! I was quite amazed to find that they were really different!

                      We're such a finicky bunch, we 'Hounds, that some days you feel like a Vietnamese cinnamon and some days you feel like a Ceylon cinnamon!!! What a luxury to be able to choose our cinnamons to fit our moods, huh!

                      1. re: liu

                        Ditto on the Viet cinnamon; I never cared for cinnamon til this one! I don't think you can really go wrong w/ Penzeys, but the ones I use the most besides cinnamon:

                        aleppo pepper
                        French thyme
                        Hungarian paprika
                        Tellicherry peppercorn
                        chipotle powder
                        medium chile powder

                        The one blend I didn't really care for was the Maharajah curry.

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          Carb Lover, what do you use the aleppo pepper on? I got some; just haven't used it yet.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Gosh, I seem to use it on everything. Well, not everything, but it's very versatile! I like how it has a nice fruity quality w/ just a hint of heat. So for times when I might reach for red chile flakes but don't want as much sharp heat. For instance, Italian-style wilted greens or sauteed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower) w/ garlic. Make sure to saute in olive oil to release its flavor. Works in soups and pastas. It even tastes good sprinkled on some pizzas. It's a Turkish spice, so I'm sure there are some good Turkish dishes to use it in.

                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              OK, I'll have to try it out. I love the ground sumac I got from Penzey's (also slightly fruity). Thanks!

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I go through the aleppo pepper faster than any other spice -- I put in on just about anything. Definitely on pizzas. With potatoes. Steamed veggies. On bagels with cream cheese and roasted peppers. You name it.

                                1. re: spyturtle008

                                  I guess I just have to dive in and try it on something (kinda like I did with ground sumac). Once I know the taste, I'll be able to use it elsewhere. Thanks!

                  2. re: Katie Nell

                    I agree with the Vietnamese Cinnamon. It's a little more expensive but so worth it. Sometimes, when at my spice rack, I open the jar just to sniff.

                    1. re: optimal forager

                      Me too! My husband started making me "special chocolate milks" before bedtime- chocolate milk with a sprinkle of Vietnamese Cinnamon on top- so good and why I love him! :-)

                  3. The blends are really good - we use a lot of the Ozark blend, the Barbecue iof the Americas, and the Bicentennial blend. I also really love the Sunny Paris herb blend.

                    We just got a new catalog in yesterday's mail, BTW, and they have rebranded their Polish and Russian sausage seasonings (as Krakow Nights and Czar Dust Memories - erk) for general seasoning use. Both sound interesting, mixing "sweet" spices such as mace and cinnamon with garlic, white pepper, and marjoram.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Allstonian

                      Sunny Paris is great for sparking up a salad. I use a little evo and balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, and Sunny Paris in lieu of other dressings. Their Herbes de Provence mix is also very good, with a nice touch of lavender in the blend.

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        Enthusuastic seconds on the Ozark blend: if you're making anything that involves sliced, cubed or ground beef (hamburgers, salisbury steak, chicken fried steak, Swiss steak, stroganoff, etc.), this is essential. Really good in fried chicken seasoning as well.

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          The bay leaf blend is great. Tastes wonderful on pork and is a good addition to soups.

                        2. Another vote for the Vietnamese Cinnamon. If you don't buy anything else there don't pass this up. Best cinnamon in existence! I love the hot flavor.

                          I haven't been disappointed in anything at Penzey's. The only Penzey's unique blend I buy is the Brady Street sprinkle which is delicious on popcorn. Since we bought a whirley pop we go through a lot of this blend!

                          I haven't tried any of the other herb or spice blends but I do buy all my spices there and the quality is so wonderful. Things I keep on hand include ground cumin, turkish oregano, bay leaf, single strength vanilla, tellicherry pepper(someone mentioned this above too...it really is wonderful pepper), whole nutmeg, dried thyme, and cinnamon sticks.

                          The quality of their items for the cost is amazing!

                          1. extra-hot red pepper flakes. I cannot do without these.
                            all of their cinnamon varieties have much more flavor than the groc store variety

                            1. I agree with the cinnamon, pepper and paprika comments.

                              I would add that the one "mix" i love is the shallot pepper. I put this on chicken and salmon. The Chicago steak blend also gives a little kick to chicken and meats.

                              1. I agree on cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves and paprika and will put in my 2 cents for:

                                mexican oregano
                                any kind of dry chile

                                Also, I have fallen in love with shallot salt and Florida pepper (with lemon, orange and garlic).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  I also recommend their Vietnamese cinnamon and the paprika. I especially like their Special EXTRA BOLD black peppercorns. They warn that some pepper mills may have a problem with their size, but my Magnum Plus handles them just fine.

                                  If you've got a Penzey's in town, you *must* go and check them out. Bring lots of money - you'll be buying a lot of spices!
                                  (Although their prices are almost always well below supermarket prices.)

                                  (Edit: I meant to post this as a reply to the OP, not C. Hamster. Unfortunately, there's no way to move a post once it's posted - sorry.)

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    Do they have mulato chili? Have trying to find them for a mole recipe without any success (even tried the big Mexican supermarkets).

                                  2. The Fox Point Seasoning is wonderful in egg dishes, i.e., omelets, scrambled eggs, deviled eggs, etc. It's also great in chicken dishes too.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: MsDiPesto

                                      I fully agree. So easy to marinate chicken with foxpoint. A little olive oil, a little lemon juice and a generous shake of foxpoint in a baggie for even an hour makes for juicy and perfectly seasoned chicken breast on the grill, baked or sauteed.

                                    2. We love their Florida Seasoned Pepper on steamed vegetables. I also use a lot of their baking spice and cake spice (depending on what I'm making) in place of regular cinnamon. For instance, I shake a bit into pancake or waffle batter. Or on baked apples, in fruit crisp toppings, on sweet potatoes, etc. We love their northwoods seasoning in egg salad. I like their curry powder, the regular kind, but America's Test Kitchen didn't rate it very highly. They have several curry powders to choose from, however. Their taco seasoning is great, too. As is their turkish seasoning. Get their recipe for turkish kabobs. Great stuff.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: AmyH

                                        Oh, yeah - the taco seasoning! We go through TONS of that stuff - DH is from TX and is very happy with it. And yes as well the Turkish seasoning - I think we ran out and need to replace that.

                                        I am actually not as wild about the smoked paprika as many others are - I use it sometimes, but cautiously, because I find it dominates the other flavors rather easily.

                                        1. re: Allstonian

                                          I buy the taco seasoning in the one pound bag. I haven't tried the taco seasonings for chicken or pork, though. Have you?

                                          I agree that the smoked paprika should be used with caution. But I have a wonderful recipe for a vegetarian german potato salad that's made with it. I think I got this from the Washington Post food section.

                                          German Potato Salad (Veg) (Makes 8 cups)

                                          3 1/2 pounds red bliss potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes
                                          3/4 cup canola oil
                                          1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar (if using unseasoned rice vinegar that does not contain sugar, add 1 1/2 tsp sugar)
                                          1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
                                          1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
                                          1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                                          1/2 cup chopped parsley
                                          1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

                                          In a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat, add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and peel while they are as hot as you can handle. Cut one-third of them into 1/2 -inch-thick slices directly into a large resealable food storage container. Drizzle one-third of the oil over them, then one-third of the vinegar. Top the potatoes with one-third each of the onions, salt, pepper and parsley, in that order. Repeat the process twice. Sprinkle the salad with the paprika. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least overnight. Turn the container over for several hours so the juices permeate the potatoes. When ready to serve, bring the potato salad to room temperature and serve with a slotted spoon.

                                          1. re: AmyH

                                            oh my gosh - THANK YOU - there was actually a post on this where i asked for a GPS veg-style...i'm going to go post this recipe over there, (hopefully you won't mind)


                                            1. re: lollya

                                              I don't mind a bit. Maybe it will get lots of people to order the smoked paprika from Penzey's. And thanks to mollie for the information about the chicken taco seasoning. I may just have to include that in my next order. I sure wish I lived near a retail store!

                                            2. re: AmyH

                                              I don't post here much, but thought I would chime in with my love for the chicken taco seasoning. We go through so much of it. In fact, I have pretty much quit making tacos with beef since discovering Penzey's chicken taco seasoning. I would highly recommend it!

                                        2. guess i am in the minority here, but i didn't love their spice/herb blends. the always cake up unless you keep them in the fridge, which is a bit of an inconvenience...easy to forget they're there. i DO however LOVE without hesitation their peppers, cinnamons/cassias, paprikas,and every other herb or spice i've purchased from them (italian vs mexican oregano, turkish vs california bay leaves, epazote...no losers in the bunch. one hint, if you order by mail or online, they use bay leaves with the packaging...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: spinach

                                            if you buy the actual herb blends, they're good. bouquet garni, herbs de provence, or the curries...

                                          2. I've found their freeze-dried shallots to be extremely useful.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: QueenB

                                              You know, I've found the freeze-dried red and green pepper blend surprisingly useful. They're a good easy add to casseroles and the like, and they're surprisingly flavorful.

                                            2. Hi:
                                              I have liked everything I have gotten from Penzeys, however, the Shallot Salt caked up which I found annoying. I will add that I too particularly like the Tellicherry peppercorns, the cinnamons, vanilla, and paprika. However, I can't live without their lemon pepper for fish - it is superb with fresh lemon juice for broiling/grilling fish, also great on chicken or lamb with rosemary - or their Pasta Sprinkle, my go-to herb mix to spark up bottled pasta sauce, my own sauce,and pretty much anything tomato based. I have used the Greek seasoning for chicken and like it too, and the Fox Point seasoning,too. BTW - there is now a Penzey's in the Marketplace in Grand Central Station, so you can save on shipping here in NY,if you are headed to the city.

                                              1. Ground chipotle is the bomb, especially when mixing your own blends. I love the peppercorns, the other ground chiles, and the Galena Street blend.

                                                1. I avoid most of their seasonings and go straight for their herbs and spices, except -- their sausage seasoning, Bratwurst and Russian, are very handy for meats.

                                                  I can only chime in on agreement about their cinnamons (Vietnamese and Ceylon both have uses). Their vanilla beans and extracts are also quite good.

                                                  1. I love the aleppo pepper and will use it instead of cayenne or pepper flakes in some recipes. jrgoodman is right, the extra bold peppercorn is really good. I gave the hot chocolate gift box to some friends who frequent Scharffenberger in San Francisco, yet they rave over the Penzeys I bought them. I like the sweet curry for chicken salad, not all curries match well with mayo but theirs blends well and tastes good uncooked. Except for the real exotic spices Penzey's is a better value than the supermarket.

                                                    1. One of the great things about Penzeys is that you can get little jars of many of the blends and spices - yes, it's more expensive than the large jars. But if you ever got stuck w/ a large jar of a spice you rarely use, you just wasted good money.

                                                      As far as what they have to offer: I love the garam masala; the whole nutmeg is great; so are the bay leaves; the double strength vanilla extract; the vanilla sugar (too lazy to make my own); fox point seasoning, as previously mentioned, is great in so many things. Their blends do clump up but I find a seafood fork and some vigorous stirring fixes that right up. I like their salad dressings. Their italian mix has readable ingredients, unlike Good Seasons and tastes good to me - some might object to the sugar, but it works for me, I like to sprinkle it on veggies to roast, seems to add to the carmalization and the taste. And the Greek dressing is great on chicken, potatoes and used for it's original application as well.

                                                      I don't work for Penzys. But I would if I could.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: bryan

                                                        Just buy the bags. Cheaper, and if something gets old, just use more!

                                                      2. Their whole nutmeg and invest in a quality nutmeg mill.

                                                        1. I tried their English Prime rib rub over Christmas and was disappointed; it tasted primarily of celery salt. I have the salt free Mural of Flavor and use that on roasted veggies which turns out really good. I received a $25 gift card for Penzeys and will need to go shopping soon! These are good suggestions.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: cooknKate

                                                            I made the Mural of Flavor carrots from their recipe, and loved it!

                                                          2. whole Tellicherry peppercorns and whole white peppercorns
                                                            Turkish bay leaves
                                                            Vietnamese and Ceylon cinnamon
                                                            Baking spice (very convenient for general baking)
                                                            1x vanilla extract
                                                            I like they medium chili powder and sweet curry mix.

                                                            I received the Prime rib rub, Florida lemon pepper, and Italian seasoning mix as a gratis gift with my last order.

                                                            1. has anyone tried any of the spices in the some like it hot gift box? (hot chili powder, hot cajun seasoning, hot curry powder, or northwoods fire)

                                                              mr mango is still away in arizona and i am thinking of sending this to him. that and the coacoa set. would like to hear some feedback, first. thanks!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: tinymango

                                                                We love the Northwoods fire seasoning, we use it quite a bit- grilled shrimp, grilled pork; I have the hot curry powder, but haven't used it yet. My parents swear by the cocoa set, but I haven't tried it yet. They go through a package almost monthly!

                                                                1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                  We also love both the plain Northwoods and the Northwoods Fire. Both are excellent on grilled fish of any type.

                                                              2. I like the Paris blend and bought a large jar around thanksgiving. I always shake it hard each time I use it, and have had no trouble with caking.
                                                                Also, if you have a microplane rasp grater, it grates nutmeg wonderfully, no need for a special grater...fresh grated nutmeg is heavenly!!!!

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ciaolette

                                                                    If you don't have a microplane grater, you ain't with it and shouldn't be on this site!

                                                                    Well, sort of kidding. Go to


                                                                    and buy one immediately. ;


                                                                    Complete best for zesting citrus (NO pith), shaving grating cheese, mooshing garlic, grating nutmeg, and wood-shaping. My son, when he was a cabinetmaker, used the Microplane in the kitchen and in his woodshop when needed to shape hardwoods. It help up just fine in both applications.


                                                                    1. re: MikeLM

                                                                      I couldn't find anything called microplane on their site. What is it under?

                                                                      1. re: xnyorkr

                                                                        Try here: http://us.microplane.com/index.asp?Pa...

                                                                        You should be able to find them at Bed, Bath & Beyond or Linens 'n' Things, as well as Sur la Table, etc.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Thanks! I really need something for nutmeg.

                                                                          1. re: xnyorkr

                                                                            The microplanes are great; in addition to the zester/nutmeg grater, I strongly recommend you get the larger microplane, which is terrific for grating hard cheeses like parmesan.

                                                                  2. The ground chipotle is quite good...very smoky plus is has a great kick of heat.

                                                                    And while not a spice, I like to buy black sesame seeds there too. They can be a challange to find, but I can rely on Penzeys to have them on hand.

                                                                    1. I randomly found a store in Beverly Hills, Mi a few days ago. it was a nice surprise.
                                                                      I had not thought of checking out the cinnamons till reading this, thanks for the ideas!
                                                                      I picked up the Old World (maybe to strong on the celery salt for some) but I found it worked well with mustard for a marinate.
                                                                      Pasta sprinkle, French Four spice (I really like this one) and the Parisien Bonnes Herbs (wonderful with roasted fingerling potatoes and asiago cheese).

                                                                      I will also be picking up the taco spice next stop too.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: nicolaco

                                                                        I love the Parisien Bonnes Herbes! I sprinkle it on just about everything (pasta, fish, chicken, pork, veggies).

                                                                      2. I agree with cinnamons, double strength vanilla, Kashmiri saffron, bay leaves, and much more.
                                                                        I would add their new salts: Fleur de Sel and Grey Salt (my favorite), both for WAY less than you'll pay elsewhere.

                                                                        1. Man, I love Penzey's. The items I couldn't do without: their chipotle powder, turkish seasoning blend, northwoods fire blend, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, their version of Old Bay, Singapore spice blend, mexican oregano, zatar, and the chicken soup base (comes as a paste, in a jar). Even their basics (like the granulated garlic and the oregrano) I find to be of a quality high enough to make buying them from Penzey's a must.

                                                                          1. I usually use mostly fresh herbs, but this weekend, I used some of their dried French thyme in a soup, and it was extremely good and very fragrant.

                                                                            1. smoked paprika - (although i initially was able to find it in local grocery stores - badia brand, ahumado pimiento - lately i haven't seen any, so i ordered some from penzey's)

                                                                              shallot salt - yes, it does clump and unfortunately they don't tell you to refrigerate it in the spice's description and evidently that's what you're supposed to do. i am completely addicted to turkey sandwiches with shallot-salted mayo and green peppercorn dust.

                                                                              northwoods fire, foxpoint (yummy on a sour-creamed baked potato, chipotle are all also my favorites.

                                                                              i like the prime rib rub on popcorn and to jazz up cole slaw.

                                                                              i love that they give you a little sample in each order!

                                                                              1. I really like their Rogan Josh and Balti curry blends. I make my own quick curry with a couple tablespoons of these blends, a can of Trader Joe's light coconut milk, a cup of plain yogurt, some cooked shredded chicken, and garbonzos.

                                                                                I serve it over couscous or rice.

                                                                                1. GREEK SEASONING! Make a Greek chicken/pasta salad with this stuff that is requested by every single client I have. Fabulous stuff.

                                                                                  Everything else mentioned is a must have also. I use a ton of Aleppo, Sarawak White Peppercorns, bay leaves, smoked paprika, coriander, marjoram, basil, etc.

                                                                                  1. Hi,

                                                                                    We love the Vietnamese cinnamon, double strength vanilla, smoked paprika, Chicago steak seasoning, lamb seasoning, fox point seasoning, coarse salt, peppercorns, soup bases - I've bought lots of things from them, but these are some favorites. It's great to go to the store, they have little sampler jars of all the spices out and you can smell them, might find a new favorite that way! Enjoy!

                                                                                    1. I had to bump up this thread by saying I picked up some of Penzey's new Krakow Nights Polish spice blend, and it's great! Really unusual! It's a mix of salt, black and white pepper, sugar, coriander, garlic, mustard, marjoram, mace, and savory -- great with pork.

                                                                                      I also picked up the mural of flavor, an unsalted take on Lawry's seasoned salt, I think. It's also quite good, but potent, so use sparingly.

                                                                                      1. heh, you know you have too many penzey's spices when you go into your fridge and find some bouquet garni and some sandwich sprinkle behind some other spices that you'd forgotten you'd even bought. plastic bags and bottles are taking up two trays in my fridge door and i have about 8 bottles out in the cupboard.

                                                                                        1. Based on recommendations in this thread, I ordered the Vietnamese Cinnamon, the smoked paprika, and the single and double strength vanilla. I also got the cardamom.

                                                                                          I just got them in the mail the other day and made my usual hot cocoa mix with the new spices and what an enormous difference. That cinnamon is heavenly. and I'm sure the cardamom was better (and cheaper) than I would have gotten at the grocery. The vanila, too, made it the perfect cup of cocoa.

                                                                                          I was appauled when I saw them charging $11 for cardamom at the grocery.

                                                                                          Anyhow, I can't wait to try the paprika.

                                                                                          1. I recently picked up Penzey's Ground Red Chipotle, and highly recommend it for its smokey flavor and moderate heat. I sprinkled some into a home-made mac & cheese the other night, and it was a terrific addition to my normal recipe.

                                                                                            1. not penzey's, and i haven't tried it yet, but here's a place that ships out of colorado that has some really great prices (less than penzey's on many comparable products) (i was comparing shallot salt / pepper pricing and was also looking at some of their other blends)

                                                                                              tell me this blend doesn't sound delicious and i'll....well....i'll call you a mushroom hater.......


                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: hitachino

                                                                                                i just wanted to give you a shout out. You have saved me a lot of energy trying to track down kaffir lime leaves - which penzey's does not carry. i've been struggling to find them in asian food stores around mpls and it's a crapshoot! now I can buy dried ones and bask in the yumminess of kaffir lime leave rice!

                                                                                              2. I think the freeze-dried shallots are great to have around if you are out of fresh ones. Like some of the other posters, I'm a fan of their herbes de Provence and the Fox Point blend (great in a balsamic vinaigrette). And I won't buy peppercorns anywhere else.

                                                                                                1. Went for the first time this weekend. The store was completely not what I expected - much cleaner, bright and 'hip'. Felt like I stepped in the spice version of Bath & Body Works.

                                                                                                  Anyway, now I wished I got the new Krakow Nights seasoning, which they said on their catalog was a rebranding/remarketing of their polish sausage seasoning mix. I was not feeling well, so everything smelled off, but did managed to get a bunch of stuff anyway -
                                                                                                  the true cinnamon, telliberry peppers, lemon rind, madagascar vanilla beans, taco seasoning, and my hubbie added some mint, thyme and cocoa powder.

                                                                                                  We tried was the taco seasoning for dinner last night, which is not as strong as I would like (had more sodium than I like too, wasn't paying attention) - so I doctored it up with extra garlic powder and chiptole powder, which then beats the normal store bought stuff. Next time I think I will go for the bold.

                                                                                                  The lemon rind smelled divine, btw.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                    Re: sodium in taco seasoning

                                                                                                    That's why I avoid some of the Penzey's blends. Penzey's does a great job with individual spices, offering a broad range with high quality. Some of the blends, however, are loaded with sugar and salt and don't seem worth the money. There are some good blends like the herbes de provences, the Italian herb blend, and the various curry and chili powders, all of which are just herbs and spices with no filler ingredients, but others, such as the taco seasoning and the Italian salad dressing mix have disappointed me with their reliance on sugar and salt.

                                                                                                  2. But Italian salad dressing and taco seasoning DO have sugar and salt in them -- those flavors are just part of the intrinsic flavor profile of those items -- and Penzey's has much less of both than anything you're going to find on a supermarket shelf.

                                                                                                    I swear by Penzey's taco seasoning, and this is coming from someone who used to painstakingly make his own.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                                                                      True, the Penzey's versions are better than the supermarket alternatives. I guess I just don't like those two blends no matter who makes them.

                                                                                                    2. I absolutely adore the Green Goddess dressing base - I've so missed the delightful green bottled stuff of my childhood, which you CAN still get from the VT Country Store, but Penzey's is MUCH cheaper.
                                                                                                      I like the Chicago Steak Seasoning, love the Sate seasoning, also Sweet Curry, Rogan Josh and Garam Masala.
                                                                                                      I work about 60 hrs a week and commute for another 12 or so, so I am "lazy" when I make a weeknight dinner. Many of Penzey's blends have been the difference between "oh joy, chicken again" and "that was YUMMY!"
                                                                                                      The single spices and herbs are, obviously, fantastic.

                                                                                                      1. okay come on, we all know that "taco seasoning," "italian dressing," "curry powder," etc. do not exist in the places that they are supposed to be from-- so really there is no such thing as an "authentic" version of any of these things, just different recipes that are better or worse in different people's opinions and that vary with the quality of the spices and other ingredients. I'm not a huge snob who makes ALL of my own spice mixtures, rubs, etc., although i like to do this a lot. i do like to use some of Penzey's mixes, i ask for them as gifts and use them as a convenience. what i like about them is that they use very fresh spices and also use more lavish amounts of the more expensive spices, such as cardamom and real cinnamon, rather than substituting the cheaper filler type spices in the grocery store blends. the penzey's blends taste better and go further as a result, as spice blends go. i guess i would have to say i'd never buy any dressing bases at penzey's though-- but then i don't buy bottled dressing either.

                                                                                                        1. I found another use for the English Prime Rub, it makes humble canned hash taste wonderful. I usually add about 6 or 7 different spices when I cook corned beef (or roast beef) hash from a can, but just the EPR made a big difference.

                                                                                                          1. I bought my first order last month and am pleased with everything - love the ozark blend with braised chicken(I now use a little on all chicken rather than initial seasoning with plain S & P) - the chiptole in pasta sauce arrabiata (rather than red pepper flakes) The Tellicherry peppercorns have a definite tasty difference over store bought peppercorns. -- VERY happy I found Penzey's.

                                                                                                            1. I am intrigued by Penzeys. Has anyone from Canada ordered from them? I heard once upon a time that the shipping charges to here were insanely high. Can anyone confirm?

                                                                                                              Thanks kindly!

                                                                                                              1. Aleppo Pepper. It has a sweet, slightly smoky quality. I like to use it in the Red Lentil Lemon Soup recipe that recently appeared in the New York Times. It's good in just about everything.

                                                                                                                1. Cinnamon, which comes in several varieties at Pensey's, is a great item to purchase from them. Korintje and Vietnamese are different, and you will probably enjoy trying them both.

                                                                                                                  I also purchase saffron from them, as well as ground ginger. I agree completely about the bay leaves, paprika and smoked paprika. Those are much better from Penseys.

                                                                                                                  Consider buying their little jars and larger bag size if you use a lot of a particular spice. I find I am often trying to decide between a shaker top or a wide top, but you should pick what you want and will use.

                                                                                                                  As for the blends -- I am usually leery of blends, but they did send me a sample of "Barbecue of the Americas" spice rub, and I have to admit that I really like it on grilled chicken.

                                                                                                                  1. I buy essentially all my herbs and spices from Penzeys, and couldn't live without them. I especially like the French thyme and Mexican oregano. For spices, I couldn't live without Extra Bold peppercorns and Vietnamese cinnamon. Blends I like are the Cajun, Galena St. rub, maharajah curry (it has saffron, I don't use it to make curry per se, but like it in chicken salad, and on fish or chicken before grilling), and Turkish seasoning.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: dkenworthy

                                                                                                                      The Turkish seasoning is excellent. Great for Fattoush Salad...

                                                                                                                    2. I have tried several of their chile powder blends, and the chile 3000 is the one I liked so much I bought it in a larger size!!! The first post on this topic was 2007 and now it is 2014, and I am so glad these posts have not been deleted. I am getting ready to do another Penzey order and I got good ideas from this!!

                                                                                                                      1. Old original post but a perennial topic. I second the general esteem for Penzey's and sure wish I had a storefront near me. (Luckily, I have a good independent spice merchant, though.) Many good recommendations already.

                                                                                                                        My two cents further:

                                                                                                                        1. I avoid anything with "seasoning" in the title, because that usually indicates salt in the mix, and I'd rather add my own. Salt lasts forever, but the herbs and ground spices are volatile.

                                                                                                                        2. Grit your teeth and toss out herbs and ground spices every year. But I give whole seeds like coriander, peppercorn and cumin a much longer time (2 years?).

                                                                                                                        3. I like Penzeys for Indian spices very much but generally like to buy the individual spices and mix them rather than buy their various "blends," which are generally just variations on about 5 spices (almost always coriander, cumin, and red chile powder, and then sometimes turmeric, clove, cardamon--black or green pods--, fenugreek, fennel seed, black mustard seed, and much else. Most of these can be bought in whole form, and that lessens the chance of waste if you only cook Indian every couple of months. And, while I don't like negativity, I have to add that Penzey's Indian-food recipes should be disregarded entirely [BLAND!]. Get spices from Penzey's; get recipes from authentic sources.

                                                                                                                        4. Try Fennel Pollen, if they sell it. Still little known and a very delicate, distinctive last-minute addition to grilled meats or veggies.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                          I agree with what you said here in #1, I tried some of the salad dressing mixes and I did not care for them. #2 is a hard one, but yes, I have been doing this. #3 I hesitate to use their recipes. Tried one, and it was just not that good. I do like their stories in the magazine, so upbeat.

                                                                                                                        2. What do people think of Penzey's recipes?

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: carol1945

                                                                                                                            passable. mostly designed for "housewives" (see use of three or four spices max). Generally focused on "easy".

                                                                                                                          2. I recently went to Penzey's and bought Whole Special Extra Bold® Black Peppercorns, and Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                              The Extra Bold are now my everyday peppercorns, so flavorful.

                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                just picked up some of my usual go-to, tellicherry. have to make a note about the extra bold peppercorns for next time. and can think of lots of things to do with freeze-dried shallots.

                                                                                                                                also, just picked up some dried lemon peel for times when i'm out of fresh lemons.