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Penzeys spices???

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Has anyone ordered from here? I am looking to order some spices etc and I found this site. Any other ideas???

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  1. First rate outfit that i have used for years.
    Their catalog offers some excellent recipes as well.

    1. Penzey's is great. I used to think they were expensive until I started using their spices and learned that their spices are so much more fresh and tastful that you don't need to use as much. We've been buying from them both catalog and in store for about 6 years now.

      1. We've gotten cinnamon and Jingle Bell dried peppers from one of their stores. We generally get our spices from the bulk bins (which contain Frontier products) at a local co-op as they have affordable prices.

        1. jfood orders from Pennzy's all the time. he has a draw full of their stuff.


          1. Penzey's is terrific! I've been ordering from them for years, but now that there's a store relatively close to where I live, it's wonderful to actually go directly to the source. Their variety is extensive.

            1. i use kalustyans - never tried penzy's - anyone who has tried both see a reason to switch?

              i got turned off to penzy's because the one time i wanted to order from them they didn't have who fenugreek, only pre-ground

              1. Another Penzey's lover - their double-strength vanilla is pricey, but excellent. When people rave about something I baked (I said when, I didn't say they always do), I'm sure it's the Penzey's d-s vanilla that makes the difference. Selection is great, quality is great, store people are nice.

                jfood, you order instead of going to their store by Stew's?

                1. Love 'em. High turnover, decent prices (I don't know about S&H.) a good variety including things three types of vanilla beans or saffron (!).

                  If the opportunity arises go to one of the stores (I'm in St. Louis). stop inside the entrance, close your eyes, and take a big sniff. CH heaven.... They have smelling jars for almost everything. I love their take on Old Bay, and I was a Baltimoron for six years.

                  One picky detail - a lot of stuff is sold in plastic bags. Make sure you've got containers - and, of course, date them.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Richard 16

                    At their stores, you always have a choice of the smaller containers (and they've switched to glass jars vs. plastic jars, I just found out),the taller glass jars, and the ziplock heavy-duty bags. What of theirs is only sold in plastic bags? Or do you just buy in larger quantities?

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Most of what I buy buy from Penzey's is in 1-2 ounce bags. I buy small mason jars (4 and 8 ounce sizes) and one-piece lids, and transfer the spices to these jars for storage.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        I'm pretty sure that none of their herbs/spices that are sold in bags are less than 4 oz. Are you filling your 4 oz. jars?

                        Just a quick glance through their website (and knowing what I see in my local store) shows sizes of 2.1 oz. (1/4 cup), 4.6 oz. (1/2 cup) - both sold in jars - and then they go to the bags - 4 oz. and 8 oz., and sometimes larger.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I have in front of me, right now, unopened (sealed) 1-ounce bags of Turkish Oregano, Mexican Oregano and French Thyme. These are the heavy-duty ziploc bags, and they were purchased at Penzy's in Grand Central Terminal.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Fair enough. My understanding is that the GCT Penzey's (a kiosk?) is a good bit smaller than regular Penzey's stores, so that makes sense that they sell them in 1 oz. bags for space-saving reasons.

                            And their website says that GCT has "limited sizes of products" - so that clarifies it as well as a space issue.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Yes. in fact, I had sent my daughter, who spends a lot of time in NYC for work, to CGT with a "shopping list" that included 4 ounces of a few items, not realizing that that particular Penzy's outpost was unlike most of their others, and that 1-ounce bags were available,. Had I known, I would have changed my order, because she ended up having to buy 4 1-ounce bags of each of these items, which was much more costly and more spices than I actually needed.

                              It's more than a kiosk, BTW. It's a long counter in the marketplace area of the terminal, which is an interesting place to visit if you're ever in the neighborhood.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                As CindyJ mentions it is more than a kiosk, probably 15' long with a display case in front and a bookcase of spices behind. Jfood would guess it's about 10% of the size of the store in Norwalk, CT.

                      2. re: Richard 16

                        Can I ask - what is wrong with buying them in plastic bags? I am moving overseas in a month and wanted to buy some spices to take with me, and was going to go with plastic bags since they are lighter - should I not do that? Do the spices get stale quicker in the bags?

                        1. re: seconds

                          I don't think there's anything wrong with buying them in plastic bags, as long as the bags are well-sealed. The small bags I have seem to have had the air removed before they were sealed. They're certainly transportable, and I doubt they would get stale any faster than if they were in jars.

                      3. I've ordered from both Penzeys and Pendrys. I've found, for instance, the cayenne pepper to be hotter from Penzeys but a greater variety of spices from Pendrys. I'm not particularly crazy for Penzey's BBQ3000 spice. The service from both is very good. Why don't you go on-line and try them both with a side by side comparison. As I answer this, one thing comes to mind; Penzeys lists a very tempting choice of curry powders.

                        1. I've ordered from them for 5+ years. I appreciate the plastic bags in the larger quantities - easier
                          to store the surplus in my fridge after I refill my jars.

                          If you have a location nearby it is wonderful to go in person and do comparison sniff tests!

                          1. Penzeys is great - their bay leaves are huge and fabulous. Also love the dried powdered chipotle to add smoke/heat to things in a pinch - grilled cheese, etc.

                            1. Superb site...and I'm lucky enough to have a retail store within a 15-20 minute drive of me in the Boston area. *Anything* you get here will be top-notch.

                              "Regular" spices and herbs I always get:

                              Turkish bay leaves
                              Sweet Hungarian paprika
                              Vietnamese Cassia cinnamon
                              Canada powdered mustard
                              Chinese powdered ginger
                              Medium-hot chili pepper
                              Crystallized ginger
                              Double strength vanilla
                              Whole nutmeg (SO much better after grating than ground nutmeg you get in the stores!)

                              "Special" spices and herb mixes:

                              Aleppo pepper
                              Sandwich Sprinkle
                              Creamy Peppercorn Salad Dressing
                              Ground Sumac
                              Tuscan Sunset Seasoning (great no-salt herb blend)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I love that store. I've ordered from them by phone and on line, but going to one of the stores is a lot of fun. A gift certificate for my Boston family is always greatly appreciated, AND you can get a lot for your money.

                                1. re: Pat Hammond

                                  I know - and if you can believe it - I was given a GC last Christmas (2007) that I forgot about - so I have either $25 or $50 to spend there - and, of course, I discovered the GC *after* I had spent $36 there. Grrrr....) But then again, they don't "go bad". :-)

                              2. I've been ordering Penzey's for almost 15 years. Great spices, great people. I especially like their Ceylon "true" cinnamon for banana bread. All their cinnamons are heavenly. Their pizza seasoning, chili con carne, fajita, and poultry seasonings are especially good. Using their Mexican oregano for Mexican dishes (as opposed to Turkish) makes a surprisingly large difference. Their big black peppercorns are great. And their stores are indeed an olfactory delight!

                                1. Aside from similar praise I have for the Penzey varieties mentioned here, I have both their sweet and hot curry powder, which lets you "turn the dial" a bit.

                                  1. Great stuff. The quality is really high; I bought some mace and nutmeg from another place and ended up throwing them out since I'm used to Penzey's. I just moved to NorCal and found out I have a Penzey's store about 5 minutes from my house. No more shipping!

                                    1. I, too, have used Penzey's for several years, but less so recently. I found the spices from The Spice House (Owned by Bill Benzy's sister and her husband) are just as fresh and a bit less expensive. I also like The Savory Spice Shop (http://www.savoryspiceshop.com). All provide quick service.

                                      Penzey's Pros: Good selection, fast service, smaller quantities if desired.

                                      Penzey's Cons: Higher prices, which I think are used to finance his other ventures like his lame magazine.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                        I don't care for Penzey's that much. They are expensive, and they don't allow you to order in small increments. I much prefer The Savory Spice Shop (which is local for me--Denver Metro area). The owners of Savory Spice Shop worked for the Penzey family for years, so they know their stuff--and they are much cheaper and let you order in whatever quantity you want (they allow you to order in plastic bags rather than jars for the smaller quantities). SSS also has a much broader selection of spices and blends than Penzey's (heck, you can get real Frankesence and Mhyrr from them during the Christmas season!). You can order directly online from the Savory Spice Shop; shipping is cheap. In Denver, we have 4 locations for Savory and only 1 for Penzey's (which opened a year ago).

                                        1. re: rokzane

                                          rokzane: "I don't care for Penzey's that much. They are expensive, and they don't allow you to order in small increments."

                                          I looked up a few things on Penzey's website. I can get a 1 oz. bag of Ground Ancho Chili; a .2 (that's POINT.two) oz. bag of marjoram; and a .8 oz (again, POINT.eight) oz bag of cinnamon.

                                          How much smaller could they offer?



                                          1. re: Jay F

                                            I needed ground coriander for a soup recipe and picked some up from them today; the quality is excellent. It added a nice, almost citrusy note to my soup. I replenished my supply of double vanilla as well.

                                      2. Another vote for Savory Spice shop. I was buying all of my spices from Penzey's for years until I tried the Savory Spice shop in Denver. Now I'm hooked their spices actually seem fresher to me (is that possible?). I did go to Penzey's this weekend for a few spices that I had to have like yesterday including Aleppo pepper, sandwich sprinkle, whole nutmeg, pizza seasoning and adobo seasoning.

                                        Tried Pendry's and found that quite a few of their blends contained MSG!!! That kinda turned me off from their blends.

                                        1. Ive ordered from Penzeys for almost 10 years and regularly get free samples in my orders. I love their 2x vanilla, various cinnamons, whole pepercorns, baking spice and some of their blends.

                                          You can find better prices at middle eastern ethnic markets for whole seeds, but Penzeys has excellent service and their products are always fresh.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Kelli2006

                                            I've purchased from Penzey's, both from their store in Columbus and through their catalog for the past 10 years. We have found some of their products just fine (their special vanillas, cinnamons, etc.) and other products inedible. In particular, my family dislikes their salad dressing mixes and I think it's probably because Penzey's adds a lot of salt and/or MSG to their mixes.

                                            Recently I have purchased several "The Spice Hunter" brand spices/herbs from the grocery store. They are labeled 'organic' and seem to be quite flavorful although they seem a bit pricey. I am not particularly fond of their "chili powder" though. It contains a lot of chipotle, I think, and so is not the 'classic' mixture I've come to expect after growing up with the McCormick's mixture! Of course, most times these days I mix my own combinations and grow many of our herbs in the pots or in the garden.

                                            I understand "The Spice House" with a few stores in the Chicago area is a very good source for herbs and spices. "The Spice House" is owned by a different branch of the same family that owns the Penzey brand spices and is a completely separate corporation, and in fact, the the tow companies are competitors, it seems. The Spice House sells some of their spices in very small quantities for customers.

                                            1. re: dumas

                                              The Spice House is the store originally opened by Bill Penzy Sr. back in the 50's and is now owned by his daughter Patty and her husband. Penzey's Spices was started as a mail-order house fror the same spices by Patty's brother Bill Penzey Jr. back in the 80's. The two siblings had a bit of a falling out after Bill Jr. started opening storefronts and put one in very close proximity with an existing Spice House location.

                                          2. I prefer World Spice Merchants over Penzey's for freshness and price.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              I've ordered from World Spice the last couple times I've needed spices. I'd been buying from Penzey's previously but wanted to try Would Spice out after reading about it here. I've been really happy with the quality and price on everything I've ordered and love their low-key business approach.

                                              I've never liked any of the spice blends from Penzey's but did order a Berbere spice blend and a Mole blend from World Spice last time and have like both quite a bit.

                                              I'm going to need cinnamon soon. That's one thing that Penzey's does really well. Have you tried the cinnamon from World Spice and if so, how does it compare?

                                              1. re: ziggylu

                                                ziggylu, glad to meet another fan of World Spice. Cinnamon is fantastic. I have ordered all of the cinnamon var. actually as I bake bread weekly and sell my cinnamon raisin bread in a few NJ spec. shops now. (something new for me).

                                                I also enjoy their bill upon arrival policy and the people at WSpice are top notch. I even own a copy of the founders story, so my devotion is long term.

                                                Their whole nutmeg and loose teas are also marvelous. In the summer I tend to order their premade spice blends for grilling but making your own is so easy thru WS.

                                                Happy shopping!

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  I am also a fan of World Spice. I do wish that they would have an on-line payment option, though I appreciate that they are trying to keep costs down and pass it on to us. I feel such a sense of obligation when my order comes that I have to drop everything, write a check and run to the post office to mail my payment. (For those of you who have never ordered from WOrld Spice, theny send you the spices along with an invoice for the amount due, a charmingly old-school and trusting way to do business.)

                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                    roxlet, I just placed a large tea order today with WS. I love their billing policy and the glass jars they use to store spices. I've stopped buying nearly all of my dried herbs and spices from anywhere else. Two exceptions: fresh whole vanilla bean and saffron I buy from a wholesaler in CA and in the summer (I live in NJ) I grow my own herbs.

                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                I love the quality of Penzy;s and think the prices are good...but I just looked at World Spice and am very impressed with the variety of their blends - pretty amazing! I think I will give them a try next time I need to order something.

                                                1. re: Divamac

                                                  Divamac, if you do give World Spice a try consider ordering 1-2 ounces of your favorite spice and see how you like it. That way you can determine if you like their freshness w/out a large expense. Since the weight of spices, herbs, teas tends to be very light you actually wind up w/quite alot of ingredients. For instance, a 2 ounce order of dried bay leaves yielded a very large supply for pennies so I'm more apt to use the bay leaves in dishes at that cost, instead of "hording" them :)

                                                  One of the ordering aspects that I continue to enjoy about this merchant is the ability to order small batches of spices & teas for both freshness and the opportunity to try something "new' without a large cost outlay. Especially the more exotic spices new to my recipe file. Once I know through taste & recipe sampling that I like something, I'll order a larger quantity later. WS's shipping turn around is very quick.

                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    Thanks for your comments above, HillJ. I'm going to order some cinnamon this week from World Spice and am looking forward to seeing how it compares with Penzey's. I was going to order the Vietnamese since that's what I normally get from Penzey's but is there one you really like and would recommend?

                                                    I've been impressed with the freshness of World Spice and I really like that for ground spices they don't grind them until you order.

                                                    1. re: ziggylu

                                                      ziggylu, I bake with the stick, chip & true cinnamons and use the Vietnamese & Indonesian in savory dishes. I leave the chip whole for baking muffins and grind my own cinnamon in a spice mill I keep just for that purpose; for breads.

                                                      Generally, if I order any pre ground spices I order a smaller qty than if I order whole spices/herbs for freshness. Also, buying WS jars with your order adds $2.00 more to each purchase but I reuse them over & over. At this point I have a couple dozen. Otherwise, your purchases will arrive in plastic bags.

                                              3. I like Penzeys, but I shop in a store rather than ordering online. I always come home with something new, kind of like going to Trader Joes.

                                                The only thing I've disliked intensely was the buttermilk dressing spice mix.

                                                If you get on their mailing list, you occasionally get a coupon for a free product, which is fun.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: coney with everything

                                                  I agree with you re: "ranch dressing mix." Rather than throw it into the garbage, I gave it to a friend. I've liked all the other stuff I've ordered from them, tho.

                                                  1. re: walker

                                                    I went to Penzey's recently for the first time. I loved their buttermilk ranch dressing mix. I thought it was spot on. A little goes a long way too! Also bought some Aleppo pepper but yet to use it - muhammara coming up soon.

                                                  2. re: coney with everything

                                                    If you get on their mailing list, you occasionally get a coupon for a free product, which is fun.

                                                    Hmmm! I've been on their mailing list for years and never got any "free" coupons. Maybe that's only for people near a store.

                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                      that could be true, al, as I'm only a couple of miles from the store and the freebies are effective at getting me in the door!

                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                        We're far from a bricks & mortar store, and get the coupons with the catalog from time to time, usually for a new product they're just rolling out. (Got us hooked on the Tuscan Sunset blend that way, which gets used a lot in our house in pizza sauce) We'll also sometimes get a random trial-sized jar of something thrown into the box when we've placed a bigger order.

                                                    2. I'm a Penzey's fan. It's funny how everyone is saying they're pricey. I think I get a much better deal at Penzey's than I would buying spices in a supermarket, especially considering the quality. I don't have any other spice shops convenient to me and I don't want to buy mail order, so I have no basis for comparison.

                                                      Penzey's Northwoods Fire seasoning is great on everything but dessert!

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                        I'm thinking the same thing when reading this! Maybe I just haven't gone far enough to check all the mail order prices, or maybe it's just that I'm not comparing prices of more exotic stuff. We're lucky enough to have a Penzey's store that's convenient to visit every once in a while, and I'm still amazed that I can go there and get a huge variety of stuff, and the items that overlap what would be in the supermarket are FAR cheaper at Penzey's every time and likely higher quality as well.

                                                        So far that's been good enough for me that I haven't bothered looking for additional mail order sources or such.

                                                        1. re: CrazyOne

                                                          how do you think penzy's compares to kalustyan's in terms of price, selection, and quality?

                                                          1. re: CrazyOne

                                                            I thought Penzey's was very reasonably priced as well for the quality, especially if you buy in bags over the jars. Ex: celery salt is $2.59 for a 2.1 ounce glass jar; price is only $4.60 for a ONE POUND bag. So by forgoing the pretty jar, you're saving $15 on that bag over the jar price.

                                                            And it is certainly cheaper than the supermarket. McCormick's at the grocery store is $1-2 more per jar than Penzey's and on top of that, the jars are plastic, not glass. At my local "upscale" grocery store, it was $10 for one Madagascar vanilla bean in a jar, I believe it was Morton & Bassetts. And all the other M&B spices I've seen on shelves were in the $7-8 range.

                                                          2. re: Avalondaughter

                                                            I actually did a direct comparison between Penzey's and The Spice House for my last order a few months back. Same spices/blends and same quantities. (Ones I have previously used, so I know they are the same or comparable.) Penzey's, on average, was about $1 more per item and the total bill was almost $12 more.

                                                            Yes, Penzey's puts in a free sample occasionaly and a suggested recipe, but not one using the sample spice. Go figure.

                                                          3. I just hit Penzey's yesterday. It's about 27 miles from here. Went down just for the vietnamese cinnamon which is excellent. Course I had to buy a few other things I really didn't need also!

                                                            1. Another Penzey's fan here. Although I will say that I tend to steer away from their spice blends (some I like but many are just so-so & others I actually dislike). Instead, I buy plain ol' spices through them: whole peppercorns, bay leaves, that sort of thing.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: alanstotle

                                                                Alan, I agree with you, the Penzey mixes aren't anything I would use. Their ground India cumin is very good, but I don't like their curries. Also, the chipotles are terrific, both whole and ground.

                                                                1. re: alanstotle

                                                                  One vote for the other way. Jfood loves their blends as well as the single seasonings.

                                                                  The shallot pepper is mrs jfood's favorite. Fantastic on Chicken. The Lemon pepper and the Florida pepper are also great on fish and the Old World works great in jfood's pot pie.

                                                                  1. re: alanstotle

                                                                    For a long time they were sending us free spice blends with our purchases. The only thing we ever use them for is burgers. Toss a little in with the burger, and it's often quite good. And best of all, they're free.

                                                                    1. re: alanstotle

                                                                      I was going to add the same thing - love their spices, not their spice blends. I find them too salty.

                                                                      1. re: thimes

                                                                        I like their adobo a LOT (a little goes a long way) and it's salt-free. I also like Fox Point, even though it has salt; the Fines Herbes, Italian Herb Mix, and Arizona Dreaming, to name a few that I use on a regular basis, don't. I happen to like their 4/S seasoned salt and they now have the same seasoning sans salt--it's called Forward! and it gets even more mileage than 4/S because I'm not very fond of salt.

                                                                    2. I just got some saffron, Spanish coupe, and I didn't find it that fragrant or tasteful. I really liked the one I got from Whole Foods ("Whole Pantry" brand, Spanish saffron.)

                                                                      1. Sometimes I buy from them, but I'm more likely to buy from the co-op, Kalustyan's, or Aphrodisia. Honestly I have a somewhat unfair grudge against them because they supplanted Adriana's Caravan in the Grand Central Station Market, which was an AMAZING store, one of my favorite stores in New York. I'm still mightily pissed that Grand Central wouldn't renew her lease.

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                          I know this is a response is way past due, but I'm new to the boards and was looking up spices. I too have a HUGE grudge against Penzey's for replacing Adriana's Caravan. I still get their spices online or go to the office and pick them up, but it was much nicer when it was at GCT. I am also disheartened b/c now Aphrodisia is closed. All the small spice businesses in the city are being pushed out of their stores, while corporate spice companies keep going. Also my big beef with Penzey's is their spices have wayy to much crap in them. Ok, end rant.

                                                                          1. re: Spice It Up

                                                                            I'm assuming you're talking about their herb and spice blends as "having too much crap in them"? Otherwise, I'm not sure how a single spice can have "too much crap" in it other than the single spice.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              I was wondering the same thing--what can you add to a spice/herb? I know the Aleppo pepper flakes contain oil and salt but that's the tradition means of processing Aleppos and it's also the only exception I can think of offhand. I don't know about Adriana's Caravan but I really doubt it was Penzeys' fault they're gone and for that matter, I'm very pleased with their quality. Now, if you were complaining about McCormick as an example of a "corporate spice company," I'd have to agree--not cheap and very pedestrian quality.

                                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                OK, I had to google Adriana's Caravan, because I've never heard of it, Spice_It_Up never referenced *where* they were talking about:


                                                                                I think perhaps the Penzey's kiosk in Grand Central Station replaced Adriana's? I guess that's what was meant by "in the city". There *is*, after all, only ONE city that matters. :-/

                                                                                But it looks like they have an office in SoHo where you can actually pick up the order you place online. Or the DiPalo's store in Little Italy is another place to buy their products. Otherwise, it seems they're mail order only. So I'm not sure of the "beef".

                                                                                However, I still would like to know what "all the crap in their spices" means in reference to Penzey's.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  jfood is with you. Adriana's made a business decision to leave a space and Pennzys replaced them, how is that Pennzy's fault?

                                                                                  And wrt the all that crap comment, if you do not like the blends, buy the spices individually. the blends are helpful to those who want a pre-blend.

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    I visited the AC site and noticed that one of their blends contained corn starch. Not an issue for me, BTW (although I'm wondering if it qualifies as "crap" and if so, is it "too much?"), and given that they carry real Syrian Aleppo flakes, I'll probably check them out when I run out of the Turkish stuff I bought at Penzeys.
                                                                                    I realize it's painful when businesses we like get pushed out by landlords, which is why I'm delighted that the space that had housed The Health Nuts on Broadway for 30 years has been empty for more than two (they actually had the nerve to offer to let them move back in). But truly, it's not Penzeys' fault and for all we know, not having to pay the overhead might have been good for Adriana's Caravan.

                                                                          2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                            According to a posting on the Manhattan board in early November, 2011 the Penzeys at Grand Central Station is closed as well. Looks like it was the location, not the product.

                                                                            1. re: al b. darned

                                                                              The powers-that-be refused to renew their lease, even with an increase. They were eager to stay but were forced out and I seriously doubt that they're blaming the new tenant. I haven't been by there and don't know who took it over. I seem to remember that it was supposed to be yet another spice purveyor but I'm not often on the east side so don't know for sure.

                                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                And for nearly two years they have said, "Please check back to our website for details of future NYC store openings."

                                                                                I'm not from NYC so I have to ask, is it that hard to find quality space?

                                                                          3. Penzeys is nothing short of awesome. Their major benefit? All their spices are fresh, fresh, fresh. So if you buy from Penzey's, and then pack your spices in the back of your cabinet for 10 years, don't bother. But for fresh (dried) spices, you won't do better.

                                                                            Their bay leaves smell wonderful!

                                                                            1. i ask again-

                                                                              someone who has used both, how would you compare penzey's and kalustyan's?

                                                                              i got turned off to penzey's when they only had fenugreek and something else (can't recall) ground, instead of whole...so i've never used them

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                more like a rant, than a comparison, I’d say. I didn't insult penzy's, and i certainly wouldn’t take someone not liking kaulstyan's as a personal attack as you seem to have taken my simple observation about why i didn't order from penzy's the one time i thought about it.

                                                                                I wrote no one off - i was looking for something specific at the time, and they did not have it. If i had written them off i would not be asking for a comparison, I would just think "F Penzy’s" and get on with my life.

                                                                                i think maybe you need to switch to decaf

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  "Rant?" Please. You did post "turned off." Twice, if I recall, which seemed extreme. And FWIW, you misread me. I don't care if someone likes Penzeys or not--I have no vested interest in them other than hoping they continue to provide the same level of service. Your reiteration of your first post struck me as huffy, i.e., no one had bothered to respond. So I did.
                                                                                  For the record, fenugreek isn't easy to grind, which is probably why Penzeys doesn't carry it. I intensely dislike coffee and caffeine doesn't affect me anyway; nice try at sledgehammer wit, though.

                                                                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                    not huffy - i was just looking for a comparison of someone who had used both. no one answered the 1st time so i asked again. no big deal really.

                                                                                    i've never had a problem w/ fenugreek in my mortar and pestle. I prefer my spices whole.

                                                                              2. I just flew back to ATL and sat by a chef and we started talking cheesecakes and spices...he highly recommended Penzey's and said that is where he gets most of his spices...hope that helps...I am going to order some dutch process chocolate from them...we will see!

                                                                                1. I've used them for years and am really satisified. It's a nice touch if you have a local store like we have here in Pittsburgh. They have open jars of each spice so you can really see and smell the spice before you buy it. This is especally nice when you are looking at different versions of the same spice such as chili powders.

                                                                                  P.S. The smoked Spanish paprika is out of this world!!!

                                                                                  Dave, the 'Burgh Feeder

                                                                                  1. Penzey's is good. I live in minneapolis and there's a penzey's store in uptown. I've been there a couple of times to get your regular, run-of-the-mill spices----like french thyme, herbes de provence, tarragon, and cinnamon---- things like that.
                                                                                    I'm a spice buff and what I recommend is the following:
                                                                                    you could get your regular spices from good places like penzey's. It's a good store and the prices are alright (not cheap and not too expensive).
                                                                                    But if you are looking for your ethnic spices, always always always get them from their respective ethnic specialty stores. E.G. get your curry, coriander, tumeric from indian stores. Sumac from middle eastern stores, Chinese five-spice from asian stores.
                                                                                    I would never make a curry chicken with something that had mccormicks on the label (no offense to mccormicks).

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: alpa chino

                                                                                      "I would never make a curry chicken with something that had mccormicks on the label (no offense to mccormicks)."

                                                                                      why? is their cumin from a lesser plant?

                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        A national supermarket brand like McCormick's could have been ground months before it makes it's way to your basket. Places like Penzey's grind their spices in smaller batches so what you receive will generally be much fresher than what you can find in a supermarket. Of course the best thing to do is buy your spices whole and grind them yourself prior to use, but most people prefer the convenience of pre-ground.

                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                          Labrat mentioned the freshness factor--which is correct. And yes, you should always grind your own spices from whole, on the spot.

                                                                                          But the mccormicks stuff will always lack punch. It's like imitation vanilla extract vs. the pure stuff. If you don't believe me, try making fajitas with good garlic powder and cumin. Compared to the cumin and garlic powder in the 99cent bottles.

                                                                                          And plus, mccormicks is way overpriced.

                                                                                      2. Penzey's is the only place I'm aware of that carries dundicut peppers of all things, which makes 'em alright in my book. They also gave me a little freeby container of one of their chili powders, which was nice.

                                                                                        On the downside, they are the last word in political correctness, fearfully avoiding use of the word Easter in their previous catalog which featured "holiday" hams. First they came for Christmas and now Easter is on the hit list, it seems.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                          Yeah, because, you know, hams are so popular for Passover and Ramadan. Also Bill Penzey is a notorious salt- and fat-phobe but boy, does he cram in those sugar-laden dessert recipes in the catalogs! That being said, I try to ignore the PC stuff and concentrate on the good stuff. With rare exceptions all my herbs and spices come from Penzey's. My current favorites are the shallot salt, Turkish seasoning and BBQ 3000. I love the toasted onions and toasted onion powder and the Pasta Sprinkle is a good all-around seasoning. I do, however, avoid the salad dressing and cheese mixes, and the horseradish powder has a very chemical taste. It was a happy day when the Richmond store was opened and recently they've taken to sticking nice coupons on the catalog. Which reminds me, I need to go this weekend ...

                                                                                        2. I just went to a Penzeys for the first time a few weeks ago, in the Strip section of PIttsburgh! Loved it!

                                                                                          My brother says that their cinnamon is the only REAL cinnamon out there - that others aren't *true* cinnamons. Can anyone confirm this? Sounds odd to me, but I don't know.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: librarianjen

                                                                                            They do a good job of explaining the difference between "true" cinnamon and what we call cinnamon, but I'm pretty sure if you look you'll find other sources for the "true" cinnamon.

                                                                                            My only complaint about Penzeys is that they discontinued the powdered jalapeno, which my son loved. But they are definitely a great and for me convenient source of most everything else.

                                                                                            And bonus...an Achatz pie store just opened up next to the Penzeys in DTW!!

                                                                                            1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                              When Penzey's doesn't have what I want I go to The Spice House.
                                                                                              Speedy shipping and their packing is bomb proof.

                                                                                              1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                Penzey's also removed Aleppo Pepper from their Tuscan Sunset mix last year - I guess Aleppo Pepper is processed with salt (?) and Tuscan Sunset was supposed to be salt-free. They've added another pepper, I think, but I'll continue to add Aleppo to the mix myself.

                                                                                              2. re: librarianjen

                                                                                                True (a.k.a. Ceylon) cinnamon only comes from a specific species of tree that has a limited range in western/southwestern Sri Lanka. I get mine from The Spice House, but I'm sure there are other good spice merchants who sell the good stuff.

                                                                                                1. re: LabRat

                                                                                                  There's certainly "good" cassia--Penzeys carries several types and the two I use are fantastic (they also now carry a blend of all three of their cassias plus cinnamon). It's just that cinnamon and cassia aren't the same thing, and are quite different from each other. I keep both on hand, all from Penzeys although I used to order true (Ceylon) cinnamon from Frontier back in the '80s. I imagine they still carry it but I really like Penzeys; I've yet to be unhappy with a purchase. I'm also thrilled that they're local and that I don't have to pay shipping.

                                                                                                2. re: librarianjen

                                                                                                  Their extra fancy vietnamese cinnamon is amazing- really potent amd spicy, i use so much less and get more flavor from it! The penzeys website details their cinnamon here:

                                                                                                3. I discovered Penzey's a long time ago and used to order rare things from them, (Szichuan Peppercorns, for example), and then they opened a store here in Houston and it became a regular stop, (although it's halfway across a very large town).

                                                                                                  Over the years though, I've found alternate and usually much less expensive alternatives.

                                                                                                  I still buy some things from them, most recently extra bold black peppercorns, Sarawak white peppercorns and Turkish Bay Leaves.

                                                                                                  Fortunately, I have a myriad of choices for ethnic groceries here in town, so I don't "have" to rely on Penzey's, but there's no denying that they have a great quality of some rarer spices. You will pay for that service though.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                    I keep the Extra Bold in the freezer (love 'em) and the clerk at our local Penzeys kindly offered to special order a small jar of the Sarawak white for me (our branch is small and doesn't carry all sizes of all offerings). I want to be able to make my own four-pepper blend with the best white and black peppercorns, as well as having all four types on hand to use on their own (I like pepper). :)

                                                                                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                      MacGuffin said "...I like pepper."

                                                                                                      Me too. I have thumb grinders of white, the extra bold black, and pink. I have green, Szichuan and the Sarawak in jars. Also green in brine in the fridge.

                                                                                                      "The Queen of Spices."

                                                                                                      1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                        Cool! I never add a whole lot to my Perfex (I've had it for about 30 years) because I live alone and want to keep my supply in good shape (I took their suggestion for freezer-storing most things seriously). I can't wait to start playing--I hope the clerk had no problem placing an order for a few jars of Sarawak for stock.

                                                                                                  2. I love Penzey's spices! I do not find their prices to be especially high. In fact, they seem quite reasonable to me especially considering the fact that they are so fresh that you don't need to use as much as you would with "name brand" herbs/spices.

                                                                                                    Their customer service is excellent. I placed on order last Sunday, modified it via e-mail on Monday, and still received it by Wednesday. I live out in the boonies, so was quite impressed. My favorite things about them are that they include a free sample with your order, and they always have nice 1/4 cup glass jars of whatever you need.

                                                                                                    Get their catalog. Dick is right--there are always good recipes. Then order--you won't be sorry.

                                                                                                    1. Add me to those who appreciate Penzey's. Freshness seems unfailing, and I find them a reliable source for gifts to friends who live elsewhere but who maybe lack access, time or knowledge to get good spices.

                                                                                                      I don't often order from them for myself, because I find that Indian and Latin grocers also have good spices in high quantity with high turnover (fresh, that is). When I get any spice blends from them, I try to get the ones without salt. They are handy for a quick roasted chicken with a flavor profile I might not have been able to toss together on my own (dried Southwest herbs and chiles with lemon, for example).

                                                                                                      My only disappointments with Penzeys are that the Indian spice blends are rather mild and generic, and their suggested recipes for Indian dishes (and maybe other ethnic dishes) are WAY too mild and technically minimalist. But recipes aren't their main thing anyway.

                                                                                                      1. i physically drive to their stores.
                                                                                                        top notch spices.

                                                                                                        1. Ive never ordered from them, as there is a store within 3 miles of my house. Staff is friendly and helpful, there's always new stuff to check out, and everything is very fresh and fragrant. Their gift selections (collections of specific spices) have always been a big hit - when Im a houseguest at my dearest cooking friend's summer place, I always take a Penzey Package and she's always thrilled. Their catalog always includes recipes that are fun to try.

                                                                                                          1. Penzeys is my go-to source for spices! Their stores are amazing. Like going to a museum of herbs and spices! The spice samples are in jars that you are encouraged to open so you can smell the herbs and spice. I have a whole collection of spices from there! Could open a store myself!

                                                                                                            They also sell empty jars that I find very handy - when I make my own spice mixture or divide up a big bag of one spice. Also use these jars to store fresh lemon or lime juice. Perfect size for the refrigerator door. And you can freeze the fresh juice in these jars and then defrost it anytime you need fresh lemon or lime juice.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: monamifood

                                                                                                              Penzeys stores strike me as the Trader Joe's of spices. The employees are always so nice and enthusiastic--I seem to recall hearing that like TJ, Penzeys places a premium on personality. And yes, the extra jars (and shaker caps) are nice. I save my empties for future use--because they're glass, they don't retain aromas.

                                                                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                Good point about glass not retaining aromas.

                                                                                                            2. Free shipping (for $40+) at the Spice House this weekend. I have a Penzey's in my town, where I buy almost all of my spices. Spice House seems to carry a few items that Penzey's doesn't, however - any recommendations?

                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                                                I just placed my order. I especially love their oreganos, both Greek and Mexican. When they have free shipping, I order the 3 lb. kosher flake salt. I am trying their cocoas and crystallized ginger for the first time with this order.

                                                                                                                1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                                                                  It bears mentioning that if you have a Trader Joe's near you, their cocoa is surprisingly excellent. It's natural (my hands-down preference), though, i.e. not Dutch-processed. I've tried Penzeys' mint hot cocoa mix and, surprisingly, wasn't all that impressed.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                    Sadly, no Trader Joe's, but thanks anyway.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MrsJonesey

                                                                                                                      Keep it in mind for future reference. King Arthur Flour has some very interesting cocoas if Dutched is what you want.

                                                                                                                2. re: emily

                                                                                                                  I purchased grains of paradise from them. I have only played around with them a little but I find them very intriguing.

                                                                                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                      I'm gonna guess she meant what she posted. The Spice House is the first of the Penzey family-owned spice purveyors: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/articl... .

                                                                                                                        1. re: emily

                                                                                                                          They look to have some interesting stuff. I only wish they had the small jars; I live alone and it takes me awhile to plow through my herbs and spices.

                                                                                                                  1. My go to store for spices. Used to order by mail, then online. Now they have a store where I live.

                                                                                                                    1. I love Penzeys. My mom used their products when I was a kid (and still uses them today) and now, as an adult, I use them myself. I grew up in Wisconsin, near where they were founded, so we would go to their retail store and I always loved the smell and looking at all the varieties they had. Now I live in San Antonio...no local store in the city, despite there being ones in all the big cities around us. Sigh. I still order from them online but I miss going in to look and smell their spices. Someday I'll have to get up to the Austin store.

                                                                                                                      1. I have been using Penzey's poultry seasoning since I purchased one jar and have not been happy with it. I'm going back to Bell's Poultry Seasoning soon.

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: javaandjazz

                                                                                                                          What don't you like about it? I bought a jar but haven't opened it yet. I use Bell's to prepare Quorn, a veg turkey substitute that tastes almost weirdly authentic when rubbed with olive oil and poultry seasoning and baked in a roaster bag. I've gotten great results with Bell's all these years and now will probably just leave the Penzeys unopened.

                                                                                                                          1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                            I thought it was boring and it tasted like it was missing something. I'm used to Bell's which to me has more flavor.

                                                                                                                            1. re: javaandjazz

                                                                                                                              I had to buy Kroger's house brand during a recent trip to Detroit. They have virtually no competition in Detroit and don't stock Bell's; their house brands are often the only option for quite a few items (including herbs and spices). It was TERRIBLE. My Quorn was a flop and I brought a few containers of Bell's with me on the next trip--one for my parents' house and one for my cousin. Bell's has clearly been doing something right all these years--it really seems to be the final word in poultry seasoning.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                                There is a Penzey's in the Detroit area, plus Germack's at Eastern Market stocks a ton of spices.

                                                                                                                                1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                                                  Sorry I missed your post. I've been to the Penzeys in Beverly Hills a few times but it's not always easy to get out there because my trips are short and my folks live on the east side. I never make it to the EM but I'm reminded that I used to frequent the Broadway Market when I worked downtown MANY years ago. I understand it's gone. :`(

                                                                                                                        2. Love Penzey's. I've had some misses, but many more hits. I actually just put the Extra Bold peppercorns in the grinder and they were great on my eggs this morning. I also like the granulated garlic, medium hot chili powder, smoked paprika and Sunny Paris.

                                                                                                                          1. Whole Spice has a wonderful selection of spices which are available on line, or at their Napa location.
                                                                                                                            They have several wonderful types of chili, including Aleppo chili, but their Urfa chili is my favorite.

                                                                                                                            1. Their Natural Cocoa Powder (full fat version) is hands down the best baking/cooking cocoa powder around.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: daver9000

                                                                                                                                I haven't bought the cocoa but have bought the Mint Hot Chocolate (which is actually cocoa, NOT chocolate) and was underwhelmed.