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Jan 12, 2008 06:52 PM

mexican vanilla

looking for opinions about mexican vanilla. i have looked at a few web sites that seem to say that using mexican vanilla is just fine. i use vanilla pretty much for baking and there is value in the price of mexican vanilla versus the price of pure vanilla extract. any chowhound bakers with an opinion to help guide me? thanx.

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  1. Mexican vanilla is great for baking if it is pure vanilla. According the the web search I just did, Mexican vanilla often contains beans from the tonka tree, which contain coumarin, a substance banned by the FDA, which can cause liver damage. If you want pure, safe Mexican vanilla, you can purchase it from Penzey's Spices (

    1. The only Mexican vanilla I've ever used was brought home by a friend from Playa del Carmen. It's a huge container and is the strongest vanilla I've ever had - it also has other notes you can taste in any baked goods - specifically cinnamon. I love it in chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies but for anything with more delicate flavors i might not use it because the other flavors are so strong. you KNOW when this mexican vanilla was used in a recipe.

      1 Reply
      1. re: krissywats

        I've purchased a lot of vanilla in the grocery stores in Tijuana.

        They state that they don't contain coumarin.

        I believe them as they are the stores where the locals shop, not the tourist traps, or seedy shops on Revolution Ave.

      2. Personally, I detest the flavor of Mexican vanilla. I haven't eaten my (very accomplished) mom's baking for years for that reason.

        1. As with so many other things in life, you get what you pay for. Pure Mexican vanilla isn't cheap. There *is* cheap vanilla in Mexico, and in my experience not all Mexican vanilla is labelled to indicate that it contains coumarin. I've brought vanilla back from the Riviera Maya that had to be poured directly down the sink. I should have known from the price that it was too good to be true. Read labels and copy carefully, and be prepared for it to be different from what you may be used to.

          1. I was given a bottle of Mexican vanilla by a friend who brought it back from a trip there. It's the most heavenly-scented vanilla I've ever come across. Every time I open the bottle I'm tempted to put my finger over the opening, tip the bottle over, and dab a drop behind each ear. BTW, the bottle DOES say it's coumarin-free.