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RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review – August 2015

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RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - Box

RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch custom spice blends (and recipes that utilize them).

My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - Contents

The Subscription: RawSpiceBar

The Cost: $6 per month with free shipping

The Products: 3-4 freshly ground spice blends from one country or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 6-10 people.

Ships to: US and Canada.

Check out our other RawSpiceBar Reviews or visit the Food Subscription Box Directory for more food boxes!

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - Card

Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This shipment features spice blends from Baltimore.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - Menu

This month’s recipes are: Grilled Shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Spices, Garlic & Lemon, Pickled Zucchinis, and Detox Green Smoothie.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - Bay

Baltimore Bay Spices- .5 oz

This blend is RawSpiceBar’s take on Old Bay! It’s a blend of celery salt, bay leaves, black pepper, mustard seed, paprika, cayenne, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and ginger.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - Vert

Vert Pickling Spice- .5 oz

Marissa McClellan of Food in Jars partnered with RawSpiceBar this month to create a classic pickling spice for green vegetables. This blend contains black peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seed, allspice berries, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - Powder

Power Spice Blend- .5 oz

Ginger, black peppercorns, turmeric, cinnamon, maca, and cayenne pepper were selected for this blend because they all have known health benefits. RawSpiceBar recommends using this blend to make a Detox Green Smoothie.

Typically, the spices sent by RawSpiceBar can be utilized to create a multi-course meal, and I like to test all of the recipes, photograph them, and feature them in my review. This month, it seems each recipe is intended to stand alone. As a result, I decided to make Grilled Shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Spices, Garlic & Lemon and pair it with my own recipes for corn bread and a summer salad of peaches and heirloom tomatoes.

Grilled Shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Spices, Garlic & Lemon

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - ShrimpRecipe

Living in DC, I’m pretty familiar with Baltimore cooking. When it comes to seasoning shrimp and crab boils in Baltimore, Old Bay is king. I’m a fan of old bay, so I couldn’t wait to try RawSpiceBar’s take on the classic blend.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - ShrimpPrep

I began by creating a marinade for the shrimp from lemon juice, butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, and RawSpiceBar’s Bay Spices.

Last month, RawSpiceBar’s recipes were all flawed in some way, and I’m sad to say that this one is, too. The ingredient list calls for 1 tablespoon of the RawSpiceBar Bay Spices. The recipe instructs to “combine RawSpiceBar’s Bay Spices, oil, lemon juice…” but the end of the recipe calls for “remaining RawSpiceBar’s Bay Spices.” Typically, the quantity listed under “ingredients” is the total used in the recipe, so I’m assuming only a portion should be added at the start and that the measurement is missing. The same problem exists with butter. It’s added at two different points in the recipe, but there’s no indication of how much of the total should be added at each point. Without the specific measurements to guide me, I decided to use ½ of the butter and ½ of the spices at the beginning of the recipe for the marinade and the remaining ½ butter and ½ spices at the end to finish the dish.

It rained on the day I planned to make this meal, so, instead of cooking my shrimp outside on the grill, I decided to sautee them on the stovetop.

RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review August 2015 - ShrimpPlated

The shrimp turned out really well (despite the issues with the recipe), and I’m impressed by RawSpiceBar’s take on Old Bay. They two blends are similar enough to be related, but when the shrimp was cooking I could smell the cinnamon and cardamom, two flavors I don’t really associate with Old Bay. The aroma was incredible! Compared with Old Bay, the flavors in the RawSpiceBar blend are definitely more vibrant and complex, and the baking spices brought out the sweetness of the shrimp- delicious!

Verdict: This month’s shipment from RawSpiceBar feels like a bit of a departure from their previous boxes. Up until now, the spices and recipes have been organized so that subscribers can create an entire meal (typically a main course, a side dish, and a dessert). These shipments featured spice blends and recipes from countries with exotic cuisines that regularly pushed me out of my comfort zone. I tried spices and recipes from India, Japan, Jamaica, and Peru, and I always really enjoyed creating an entire meal that explored flavors from the month’s featured country. This and last month’s boxes have featured spices from closer to home (Memphis and Baltimore), and this month’s recipes do not make up a full meal. Furthermore, I don’t really think a breakfast smoothie is a great choice to represent Baltimore. I could see a smoothie recipe popping up in a Los Angles box, perhaps, but not a box inspired by the home of crab cakes and Natty Boh (i.e. National Bohemian Beer). To be fair, the spices I received this month were lovely (as always), and the shrimp recipe was really tasty. I’m just a little disappointed to see that RawSpiceBar is starting to veer away from the formula I’ve grown to love. It’s sad, too, to see more mistakes in their recipes this month. I hope they’re able to address this problem soon.

What do you think about this month’s Baltimore RawSpiceBar?

Written by Lindsey Morse

Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker by day and a subscription box junkie by night. She first subscribed to Birchbox in 2013 and her addiction grew when she signed up for Graze, PopSugar, and Knoshy. Her favorite part about being a subscription box addict is discovering new products- especially gourmet goodies, beauty products, and kitchen tools!
All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.


  1. Is everyone else still waiting for September, or just me? I ended up cancelling last night since it’s October and I still haven’t received September’s box. Guess what happened? As soon as I hit cancel, I had an email charging me for the October box. I’ll let it go because it’s cheap enough, but I will be making sure I get my spices. I wish this hadn’t gone downhill so bad, but between all the changes and now with shipping really delayed, I am not happy.

  2. I’ve noticed too many changes and not for the better.

    If you measure your spices, you will find that you did not actually receive .5oz of each like it says.

    The September shipment has only .6oz of spices when the website says you’ll receive between 1 and 2oz (and in the beginning it said between 2 and 3oz!).

    I don’t know what’s going on but they’re cutting costs. And I don’t appreciate lack of transparency with the actual content amount.

  3. I thought the Chesapeake Bay spice blend was delicious (I used it in a marinade for a vegetarian dish of fake chicken and black beans), but I agree that the other two blends and recipes were a bit strange. Getting spices that create a meal is more in line with what I’ve come to expect and want from Raw Spice Bar and for that reason the August selection was slightly disappointing. I’m also receiving my spices later and later each month. I didn’t get the August blends until the 31st. For $6 a month I’m still happy with the sub for now.

  4. Well, I e-mailed them about not having received August and they’ve promised me that they’ll re-send August, send September soon, and they’ve added an extra month to my subscription. So I’m hoping to see a return to the fun international food meals they were having earlier. Maybe I’ll re-subscribe then.

  5. Not a fan of this month, in fact, just swapping the whole thing. Last month was a disappointment as well, sadly. The whole thing, as someone who LOVES to cook and try new things, should work out great, but they haven’t really been introducing anything new in a bit.

  6. I love the reviews of this box and wish I could get it but a lot of the spices are for meat and fish which I don’t eat and I feel like they would go to waste. Has anyone tried using them on veggies or tofu? I’m thinking of trying a month (6 bucks isn’t a big splurge after all) and seeing if it would work but am curious if anyone else has tried

    • I’ve used some of the meat oriented spices on veggies and tofu – some of them are pretty okay on veggies, but I’m not a big fan of a flavoring that doesn’t really get into the middle of the tofu and flavor it up, and the spices mainly just crust the outside.

      I also like taking the spices that I don’t really have use for, grinding them smaller (if needed) and putting them on some butter free popcorn to season. That’s what I plan to do with the pickling spices.

      • That’s a great idea with the popcorn, and thanks for letting me know about the tofu and veggies, I eat more vegetables anyway so its better they work well with them

  7. This is the second month in a row that i have been disappointed. I do not like the new packaging, the recipes have too many mistakes, they no longer make a complete meal, and the spices use to be more exotic. I hope they go back to what made me fall in love with this subscription in the first place or I will finish out my subscription and cancel. Too bad…they use to be so good.

  8. Great review, Lindsey!

    Your shrimp dish looks incredible!

  9. Still loving this subscription. Not my favorite month but they can’t please everyone. I do make green smoothies several times a week so I thought the spices for that was a cool inclusion. I also love the crab cake spices.
    I’ll have to try the pickling ones soon.

  10. Sadly I cancelled my sub. It took forever to get July’s and August box. I’m still keeping an eye on the sub though. The firsts shipments were lovely and really gave me a glamorous international cheff feeling that I really enjoyed and was looking forward every month. The last two shipmets were so so. I really hope they go back and I will immediately sub back.

    • I also cancelled. I’ve been charged for three months but have only gotten one. I knew they’d just go ahead and charge me for September if I didn’t cancel.

      • I’ve had the same problem with them charging me and the package never arriving and it taking over a month and 5 emails to get them to send a replacement or a refund. Love the idea, hate the hassle.

  11. Once again, great review … thank you for continuing to do such an honest and thoughtful job!

  12. I’m not sure what’s happened at Raw Spice Bar to change up a formula that was working so well, but they need to go back to how they were doing it. I subscribed based on the excellent reviews I found here. First month of subscribing was great, but the next month the quality was down and I actually received the box twice. This month, I had to contact them to find out where my box was and it was only after I asked that they sent out an email saying there was a delay. I agree that customer service is great, but the production needs to get back to the level it once was. I am giving it one more month to get back on track and if not, I’m unsubscribing until they get it together.

  13. I was pretty disappointed in this box, mainly because this is the second time I did not receive it. Their customer service is nice and assures me they’ll send me a new one, but this keeps happening with them and I’m very disappointed. On top of the issues of not receiving the box, the instructions for these recipes continue to be confusing. I’m very familiar with pickling and canning, but the instructions for pickling on the website were hard to follow and just downright confusing.

    I love the concept of this subscription, but they have had a lot of kinks to work out and don’t seem to be improving. I have also loved being able to make a full meal from different places around the world, and it’s disappointing to not be able to do it this month, especially since they could have done so many wonderful things with a Baltimore meal. As someone who doesn’t drink shakes, part of this box is wasted on me. I’m really not sure whether to continue this subscription. I’ll give them one more month, but if they do another US city I’m probably out.

  14. I used the pickling spice to make homemade pickles and they are crunchy and so tasty!

  15. I think I am going to try the crab cake recipe. I agree that the recipes don’t really fit together this month. I like smoothies, so I’ll try out their recipe for that. I don’t know if I’ll get around to trying the pickle recipe or not. Slightly disappointing for my first month with them, but I’ll stick with it for a while.

  16. This box was not for me at all. I have loved rawspicebar, but enjoy trying new things and making a full meal. The box was late, so my garden zucchini is mostly gone. The smoothie doesn’t make sense in terms of curation, doesn’t sound especially appealing to me, and requires a ton of ingredients that won’t be used up in one batch. The shrimp was good, but nothing special. I have unsubscribed.

  17. It would have been great to get these spices earlier in August when I had an abundance of zucchini from my CSA. Now it’s September and still no August spices in sight…

  18. We have been struggling with what to do with the spices this month. The alternate main dish recipe was crab cakes, which is not going to work for me since I am a vegetarian. I am not really enthusiastic about the idea of pickled zucchini (it reminds me of a side dish at a local vegetarian restaurant that comes with the veggie burgers that I never actually ate…). And the green smoothie recipe was a strange inclusion.

    I really liked this at first but I think I may let it go when my subscription runs out. It is just too much effort for someone like me because Raw Spice Bar is not forthcoming with the vegetarian alternatives. (A few months ago, they were much better.)

    • I really enjoy Old Bay on potatoes, in general. I’m considering a twice baked potato with the spice blend.

      • Well, that is something I can do. (We have an entire container of actual, branded Old Bay in the kitchen, so if I like it, it would be easy to make again, too.) Now if I can figure out something to do with the other two, I might be able to make a meal out of it yet.

        • I make a lot of refrigerator pickles, so I’ll probably use the pickling spices for whatever veggie I end up with in abundance next (maybe watermelon rind). I’m planning to dump the powder into either a smoothie or some carrot muffins.

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