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Penzey's signature spice mixes

Steve Sep 17, 2007 07:11 AM

Please tell me if you think the Penzey spice mixes are worth buying. I am particularly interested in :

Sandwich Sprinkle
French Viniagrette
Shallot Salt

Or give me feedback please on any others you think are a great or ineffective way to spend my money.


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  1. pikawicca RE: Steve Sep 17, 2007 07:22 AM

    The shallot salt is extraordinary!

    1. m
      mmalmad RE: Steve Sep 17, 2007 07:33 AM

      I love the shallot salt. If you get it keep it it fridge or it cakes up

      1 Reply
      1. re: mmalmad
        C. Hamster RE: mmalmad Sep 17, 2007 09:56 AM

        I love the shallot salt, too. But mine is caked up already.

        I also love their Florida seasoned pepper.

      2. k
        Kelli2006 RE: Steve Sep 17, 2007 09:08 AM

        I bought the vinaigrette and I thought it was a waste, as the first 2 ingredients are sugar and salt. I have sent Penzeys E-mails and letters asking they they make their mixes salt and sugar free.

        Seasoning and spicing are 2 different operations, and I would prefer that I can control the amount of salt in my diet. I tend to use more spice than many people, and if I use their mixes, it will have too much salt.

        I love their mix flavors, but I would like to see them made salt/sugar free.

        22 Replies
        1. re: Kelli2006
          WendyBinCT RE: Kelli2006 Sep 17, 2007 10:10 AM

          I try to limit my salt intake due to hypertension, and avoid seasoning mixes that include salt. My two favorite Penzey's purchases are salt-free:

          Florida Seasoned Pepper (Tellicherry black pepper, lemon & orange peel, onion & garlic) -- I shake lots of this onto poultry, fish and sandwiches.

          Sunny Paris (shallots, chives, green peppercorns, basil, tarragon, bay leaf, dill) -- this combo makes superb vinaigrette.

          1. re: WendyBinCT
            LindaWhit RE: WendyBinCT Sep 17, 2007 10:21 AM

            WendyB, try the Mural of Flavor Salt Free - also pretty good.

            1. re: LindaWhit
              WendyBinCT RE: LindaWhit Sep 17, 2007 10:31 AM

              Will do! Thanks for the recommendation!

              1. re: WendyBinCT
                WendyBinCT RE: WendyBinCT Jul 4, 2008 10:18 AM

                Since this thread has been resurrected, I'll send my gratitude to LindaWhit for suggesting Mural of Flavor. It enhances just about everything. A new fave!

                1. re: WendyBinCT
                  LindaWhit RE: WendyBinCT Jul 4, 2008 11:18 AM

                  Wendy, you are most welcome!

            2. re: WendyBinCT
              irishnyc RE: WendyBinCT Sep 21, 2007 08:40 PM

              I LOVE the Florida Seasoned Pepper. I sprinkled some in my coleslaw when I made a batch for a potluck, and everyone raved about it like never before. I think it's my new secret ingredient.

            3. re: Kelli2006
              silverbear RE: Kelli2006 Sep 18, 2007 11:05 AM

              I love Penzey's for their individual spices, but I agree that some (not all) of the blends are dissapointing. Salad dressing mix, taco seasoning, etc. all rely too much on sugar and salt for my preference. I've heard some folks defend these blends saying that they are supposed to have these ingredients. Maybe so, but sugar and salt content is defintely something to keep in mind when shopping at Penzey's]

              The blends I like most at Penzey's are the mild chili powder, the Italian herb mix (not the Italian salad dressing mix), and the sweet curry powder.

              1. re: silverbear
                Kelli2006 RE: silverbear Sep 18, 2007 11:42 AM

                Silverbear, I agree with you totally. I have managed to cut HFCS/ sweeteners out of my diet and now most ready-made products now seem sickening sweet to me. I like spicy food but spices with added sugar and salt don't work well when you don't like it normal-for-America sweet.

                I also love the Italian herb mix and I bought a large bag of it for my daughter at school. This is her first semester in a apartment and this blend is perfect for most Italian dishes. She also likes the Chinese 5 spice, medium chili powder, fox point , Florida lemon pepper and the roast beef blend (great for almost all beef dishes) poultry seasoning (great for both pork and chicken) .

                I like the Chicago steak seasoning, but I could do with the sugar and salt in the blend. (Who puts sugar on grilled beef?)

                I have managed to mix a copy of their Italian vinaigrette spice blend up from individual spices that I have and it quite good.

                I wonder if it is possible to send Penzeys a petition to ask to remove sugar and salt from their blends, and get it signed by interested Chowhound members?

                1. re: Kelli2006
                  LindaWhit RE: Kelli2006 Sep 18, 2007 11:48 AM

                  "I like the Chicago steak seasoning, but I could do with the sugar and salt in the blend. (Who puts sugar on grilled beef?)"
                  Lots of marinades and dry rubs have sugar in them. It's not a lot of sugar - perhaps 1 Tbsp. in a dry rub of about 1 cup. Or honey or brown sugar in a marinade mixture. I like the sweet against the tang or heat of whatever else is in the marinade. Can also help form a nice crust on the outside of the beef if a bit of sugar gets to caramelize.

                  1. re: LindaWhit
                    ddavis RE: LindaWhit Sep 23, 2007 07:10 PM

                    I just tried the Chicago steak seasoning tonight for the first time. I will give it to someone tomorrow. I like my own rub of freshly ground black pepper, granulated garlic and sea salt much better.

                  2. re: Kelli2006
                    silverbear RE: Kelli2006 Sep 18, 2007 01:51 PM

                    I don't think I'd go as far as a petition. I just buy what I like and skip what I don't. I think that sends a strong enough message. Despite our shared misgivings about the sugary, salty blends, they must have a constituency or Penzey's wouldn't continue to produce them. The one time I tried the Italian salad dressing mix, I found it much too sweet, but some of my guests raved about it. Nevertheless, Penzey's recently introduced several new salt-free (and sugar-free) blends including Mural of Flavor and Tuscan Sunset, so I think that someone at Penzey's is listening.

                    1. re: silverbear
                      LindaWhit RE: silverbear Sep 19, 2007 07:17 AM

                      Oooh - Tuscan Sunset - haven't seen that one (and have to make a Penzey's run this weekend). What's that one about?

                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        silverbear RE: LindaWhit Sep 19, 2007 08:19 AM

                        Appears to be like the Italian herb mix but with some fennel and other ingredients. I wouldn't use it for marinara sauce; instead, I think it might be good with foods to be roasted or grilled.

                        1. re: LindaWhit
                          Rubee RE: LindaWhit Sep 19, 2007 12:30 PM

                          Hi LindaWhit!

                          Just got the Penzey's catalog today and the new salt-free Tuscan Sunset is on the cover. Ingredients include basil, oregano, garlic, aleppo pepper, black pepper, and fennel. It says it's good in tomato sauce, veggies, as a marinade for meat, or salad dressing. There's also an attached coupon for a free 1/2 cup glass jar to try it out (or the spicy or smoky 4/S salts) - good for both catalog orders and in-store.

                          1. re: Rubee
                            LindaWhit RE: Rubee Sep 19, 2007 12:58 PM

                            Rubee, thanks! I barely glanced at it when I got the catalog along with several others and tossed it on the stack of Williams-Sonoma/Chef's Catalog/LLBean/Eddie Bauer/Boudin's Bakery/et al catalogs. :-)

                            The coupon is definitely something I'll use this weekend in the Arlington store! (A half cup? That's a LOT!)

                            1. re: Rubee
                              LindaWhit RE: Rubee Sep 19, 2007 03:43 PM

                              An update - I just checked my catalog - yes, it has the Tuscan Sunset mixture noted on the top right corner of the cover, but no coupon. Just a tear-out card to subscribe to Penzey's ONE Magazine. I did that for one year and just didn't think it was worth the $20 a year.

                              And looking again at the combination of ingredients, I have all of them, so I might get the 1/4 cup for $1.99, and then make my own mix if I really like it. Thanks again, Rubee!

                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                Rubee RE: LindaWhit Sep 19, 2007 04:26 PM

                                Oh too bad! Anyways, it's part of a paper cover attached to the Penzey's catalog.

                                I wish I could give you the coupon....hmmm...we are local! ; )

                                1. re: Rubee
                                  LindaWhit RE: Rubee Sep 23, 2007 06:32 PM

                                  I picked up the smallest container of Tuscan Sunset herb mix at Penzey's yesterday, and mixed a healthy tsp. of it with about 1/4 cup of spreadable goat cheese, a half Tbsp. of roasted garlic, and some salt and pepper. Tucked the mixture in under the skin of some chicken thighs, rubbed the thighs on the outside with some olive oil, and sprinkled on some additional Tuscan Sunset herbs. Roasted them in the oven at about 425° until they were done, and enjoyed them VERY much! I'm definitely going to try this herb mix on other things as well.

                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                    Rubee RE: LindaWhit Sep 23, 2007 09:19 PM

                                    Thanks for the update - sounds like I have to get over to Penzey's soon!

                              2. re: Rubee
                                jfood RE: Rubee Sep 19, 2007 04:13 PM

                                great, received late last night and when jfood did not even look at it when he got home. was hoping for something new and this looks perfect. yippeeee!!!

                        2. re: silverbear
                          Goomba RE: silverbear Sep 19, 2007 04:30 PM

                          I don't generally buy any blends as I like to mix my own. If I make my own taco seasoning (which tastes MUCH better than any packet mix I've ever tried) I'm helping keep my spices used up and replaced so they are as fresh as can be. I don't need Penzey's to do it for me. I buy all my spices through them though.

                          * Exported from MasterCook *

                          Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

                          1 tablespoon red chili powder
                          1 teaspoon paprika
                          1/2 teaspoon salt
                          1 teaspoon cumin powder
                          1 teaspoon garlic powder
                          1 teaspoon oregano
                          2 teaspoons onion powder
                          1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

                        3. re: Kelli2006
                          othervoice RE: Kelli2006 Sep 19, 2007 06:50 PM


                          You might want to give this place a try. Very good service and mixes are quite good!

                        4. LindaWhit RE: Steve Sep 17, 2007 09:37 AM

                          The Sandwich Sprinkle is excellent in tuna and egg salads! I have the Shallot Salt; haven't tried it yet.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: LindaWhit
                            mikester RE: LindaWhit Sep 17, 2007 10:14 AM

                            The Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle is really good, and makes a great dip or salad dressing, depending on how much liquid is added.

                            1. re: mikester
                              ziggylu RE: mikester Sep 18, 2007 12:24 PM

                              Brady Street Sprinkle is the only mix I buy at Penzey's(I do buy all my individual herbs and spices there however...great quality!)

                              We love the Brady Street stuff on popcorn. If you haven't tried this, do so!

                            2. re: LindaWhit
                              rose water RE: LindaWhit Sep 17, 2007 11:28 AM

                              I don't like the salad sprinkle, but should've known better. It's heavy on the garlic powder, which I don't like at all.

                            3. Rubee RE: Steve Sep 17, 2007 11:30 AM

                              Penzey's Fox Point seasoning is one of my favorites (salt, shallots, chives, grarlic, onion, and green peppercorns). I use it for everything - it's great with eggs, seafood, and mixed with olive oil as a marinade.

                              1. meatn3 RE: Steve Sep 17, 2007 12:35 PM

                                Fox Point is great. When I don't want to add salt I use Sunny Paris. They are similar but still enough difference to have both. I've heard good things about Mural of Flavor, but have not tried it yet.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: meatn3
                                  LindaWhit RE: meatn3 Sep 17, 2007 01:12 PM

                                  I also just used the Parisienne Herb mix in my chicken salad for work lunches. Nice when all you want is herbs.

                                  1. re: meatn3
                                    mbfergie RE: meatn3 Sep 18, 2007 09:34 AM

                                    I have a fox point addiction. It is so yummy on eggs and mixed in my tuna salad.

                                    1. re: meatn3
                                      dinner belle RE: meatn3 Sep 21, 2007 08:45 PM

                                      Don't like Mural of Flavor as much as Fox Point, but it is very good.

                                    2. h
                                      Hooda_Guest RE: Steve Sep 17, 2007 02:40 PM

                                      I am partial to the Shallot-Pepper Seasoning actually.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Hooda_Guest
                                        jim1126 RE: Hooda_Guest Sep 21, 2007 01:12 PM

                                        I love the shallot-pepper seasoning... but, sadly, it isn't in their latest catalog and none available at our local Penzey's. Has it been discontinued?

                                        1. re: jim1126
                                          yayadave RE: jim1126 Sep 21, 2007 03:06 PM

                                          As of rght now, it is still on their web site. You might give it a try.

                                          1. re: jim1126
                                            Kelli2006 RE: jim1126 Sep 21, 2007 03:50 PM


                                            1. re: Kelli2006
                                              yayadave RE: Kelli2006 Sep 21, 2007 03:53 PM

                                              HAH! I must have lost something in translation.

                                              1. re: yayadave
                                                Hooda_Guest RE: yayadave Sep 21, 2007 08:25 PM

                                                Well, now I'm worried. I guess I better stock up before it disappears totally.

                                            2. re: jim1126
                                              meatn3 RE: jim1126 Sep 21, 2007 11:17 PM

                                              I just received a catalog the other day. It is there, but listed in the pepper section, under blends!

                                              1. re: meatn3
                                                jim1126 RE: meatn3 Sep 24, 2007 07:18 AM

                                                Bless you for finding that! I missed it, and our "local" Penzey's (Houston, but it's a 30-minute drive) is indeed out of stock. I'm ordering some now!

                                          2. jfood RE: Steve Sep 18, 2007 11:17 AM

                                            jfood uses

                                            - the shallot-pepper all the time. fantastic on fish and chicken
                                            - the montreal seasoning in hamburgers (plus the water(. jfood made a couple of dozen burgers for a group of college kids 3 weeks ago and each of them raved about the burgers. jfood finally tasted and he agreed it was probably the best seasoned burger he had tasted in a while

                                            1. dmfnole RE: Steve Sep 18, 2007 12:26 PM

                                              the English Prime Rib Rub is good

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dmfnole
                                                tachis RE: dmfnole Sep 18, 2007 08:14 PM

                                                Agreed! I like it in tomato juice.

                                              2. litchick RE: Steve Sep 18, 2007 04:27 PM

                                                I Love:
                                                Green Goddess

                                                Feel So-So About:

                                                Didn't Like:
                                                4/S seasoned salt
                                                Fajita (McCormick's is better)
                                                Chesapeake (Old Bay is better)
                                                Lemon Garlic

                                                Jury's Still Out On:
                                                Tsar Dust
                                                Krakow Nights
                                                Tuscan Sunset
                                                Mural of Flavor

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: litchick
                                                  coney with everything RE: litchick Sep 19, 2007 06:04 AM

                                                  4/S seasoned salt--did you try the Spicy or the Smoky? I just got the Penzeys catalog yesterday and noticed the two types, was intrigued by the smoky which includes smoked paprika in the ingredients.

                                                  1. re: coney with everything
                                                    litchick RE: coney with everything Sep 19, 2007 08:42 AM

                                                    I got the spicy, which I don't really like. I tried the smoky at the store, and though it's better, perhaps I'm just not really a fan of seasoned salt? I've been thinking about how to put into words *why* the 4S didn't work for me, but the best I can do is to say that it was really overmuch -- too spiced. Which is funny, since I'm the queen of salt, and the queen of spice. I guess I feel like it's not well balanced enough for me to want to put on my food.

                                                    1. re: litchick
                                                      coney with everything RE: litchick Sep 19, 2007 09:02 AM

                                                      Thanks for the reply--I'm also not a big fan of seasoned salt. Salt and spice mixes in general usually contain powdered onion and/or garlic, and I'm not a fan of either. I thought the smoky salt sounded decent, though, possibly as a dry rub ingredient.

                                                  2. re: litchick
                                                    amyzan RE: litchick Sep 19, 2007 08:59 PM

                                                    I didn't like the Ozark blend until I realized it's strong and needs to be used sparingly. I really like it on cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) I'm going to roast in the oven with olive oil.

                                                    1. re: amyzan
                                                      litchick RE: amyzan Sep 20, 2007 01:50 PM

                                                      Thanks for tip on Ozark, I haven't been using it much, but I'll give it a whirl on the cauliflower and sprouts. ;)

                                                  3. g
                                                    ginnyhw RE: Steve Sep 19, 2007 08:27 AM

                                                    Chili Con Carne powder

                                                    1. f
                                                      Fuser RE: Steve Sep 19, 2007 01:11 PM

                                                      I agree with other posters about there being way too much salt and sugar in most Penzey's mixtures, but they are getting better and there are more and more salt-free options. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could start a movement among ALL food manufacturers to drop ecess salt and sugar from prepared foods, seasonings, etc? It's absolutely appalling how much of this crap is in our foods, and it's unnecessary and unhealthy.
                                                      Perhaps if we keep complaining on boards such as these ...

                                                      1. t
                                                        tzurriz RE: Steve Sep 19, 2007 04:32 PM

                                                        I use their Spicy Cajun seasoning all the time. Seriously. I order it in the largest size they sell, and probably use it 2-3 times a week.

                                                        I also like a few of their curries, and their Bold Taco seasoning.

                                                        Oh, in a non-blend line, have you tried their Aleppo Pepper? /swoon

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: tzurriz
                                                          amyzan RE: tzurriz Sep 19, 2007 09:00 PM

                                                          The aleppo pepper is great, so complex and complements a huge range of foods.

                                                          1. re: amyzan
                                                            lucyis RE: amyzan Sep 20, 2007 02:02 PM

                                                            I am another Fox Point fan but do not care fro 4/s. the bay leaf blend is excellent and I use the apple pie and pumpkin pie blends all the time in baking. the pumpkin is also very good when you want to brighten up the flavor of a winter squash dish. My DH loves their Fleur de sel sea salt sprinkled on his garden tomatoes.

                                                        2. free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: Steve Sep 23, 2007 02:55 PM

                                                          The bay leaf seasoning is great. It is super in soups and stews that call for a bay leave. I also really like the green goddess dressing mix and garlic salt (it's nothing compared to the supermarket garlic salt). I'll have to try the shallot salt.

                                                          1. val ann c RE: Steve Sep 23, 2007 07:43 PM

                                                            -- Galena Street Rub -- really nice flavor for broiled chicken legs. Hand-mixed from: flake salt, sugar, black pepper, paprika, ground Grenadian nutmeg, sage, cayenne and red pepper.
                                                            -- Parisienne Bonnes Herbes - Hand-mixed from: chives, dill weed, French basil, French tarragon, chervil and white pepper. I love this in egg salad. It's very nice to mix with melted butter, as a dressing for steamed vegetable.
                                                            -- Pasta Sprinkle (salt free)- California and French basil, Turkish oregano, minced garlic and thyme. Very convenient to add to vegetables, sauces.
                                                            -- Aleppo pepper - not a blend, but I love it on pizza, vegetables, eggs, sprinkled in a mild cheese sandwich.

                                                            Recommended.... I buy these classic mixes from Penzeys. These mixes are typical. I buy from Penzeys because I know the base ingredients are good quality and fresh:
                                                            -- Medium chili powder
                                                            -- Sweet curry powder
                                                            -- Shrimp and crab boil spices

                                                            Tried these and was not impressed:
                                                            -- Garam Masala - this seemed way to heavy on cinnamon and nutmeg, but I'm no expert on Indian spices.
                                                            -- Greek seasoning -- too much dried garlic
                                                            -- Florida pepper -- I see others love this. It did not float my boat. Peppercorn is the main ingredient and I would rather have it fresh-ground.

                                                            1. a
                                                              Avalondaughter RE: Steve Sep 24, 2007 09:09 AM

                                                              When it comes to Penzey's, I can't get enough of:

                                                              Fox Point
                                                              NORTHWOODS FIRE (I put that on everything but dessert)

                                                              I also like:
                                                              Old World

                                                              1. Striver RE: Steve Sep 24, 2007 10:48 AM

                                                                Big fan of Penzey's, and Sunny Paris or Herbs de Provence are my go-tos for salad. Just wanted to add that some mixes work well on unexpected foods. For example, I love the Bavarian Seasoning (crushed brown mustard, rosemary, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and sage - no salt or sugar), which is promoted for meats, on steamed fresh brussels sprouts (with a little olive oil, a dash of coarse sea salt, and a dash of black pepper).

                                                                Don't care much for the Mural of Flavor, BTW.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Striver
                                                                  yayadave RE: Striver Sep 24, 2007 04:12 PM

                                                                  Herbs de Provence for anything chicken.

                                                                2. e
                                                                  EclecticEater RE: Steve Dec 1, 2007 07:52 AM

                                                                  Yes, a definite, some of their rubs are just great, such as Galena Street, and they're intelligent and reasonable priced about selling spices. They're good, honest, tell you what's in every blend. It's hard to find people who are so straightforward, so any craping you hear will be from people who have the information directly from Penzys. You can use that information to buy the raw materials if you like a blend of theirs, and alter it any way you want. They also sell bottles and shakers. Good people.

                                                                  1. michele cindy RE: Steve Jun 25, 2008 08:48 AM

                                                                    I realize this is an older post... Someone gave me the Penzey's Florida and another small jar of Penzey's pink and red (I think that's the name)? Anyway, they are so good. I added the Florida to a half of an avacado yesterday for a snack, and it was kind of like guacamole, but even better. I never had any Penzey's items before, now I see what all the fuss is about. It was so good. Just had to say something about it!

                                                                    1. toodie jane RE: Steve Jul 4, 2008 09:59 AM

                                                                      I don't care for any of the savory blends I've tried; the pepper just doesn't taste as good as freshly home-ground to me, and onion and garlic powders are not high on my list.

                                                                      I do like and use their Cake Spice in many things: baked goods, cocoa, etc.

                                                                      Salt and sugar are great to bulk up a spice mix, and they are heavy, so economical for Pezney's to use. I'm glad to hear they are introducing some salt- and sugar-free herb blends.

                                                                      1. c
                                                                        curiousbaker RE: Steve Jul 4, 2008 11:26 AM

                                                                        I'm not crazy about the dressing mixes, which are way too salty for my taste. But I can't get enough of the Northwoods Fire Seasoning.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: curiousbaker
                                                                          PrincessBakesALot RE: curiousbaker Jul 4, 2008 04:23 PM

                                                                          I don't usually buy blends because I like to make my own, but I love the Tuscan Sunset blend. It is salt free and great with red wine vinegar and a bit of olive oil on cucumbers. My go-to hot summer night dish.

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