© The Authors 2014. Objective The present paper investigated the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on food security in Mexico and how it disproportionally affected vulnerable households. Design A generalized ordered logistic regression was estimated to assess the impact of the crisis on households' food security status. An ordinary least squares and a quantile regression were estimated to evaluate the effect of the financial crisis on a continuous proxy measure of food security defined as the share of a household's current income devoted to food expenditures. Setting Both analyses were performed using pooled cross-sectional data from the Mexican National Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2008 and 2010.Subjects The analytical sample included 29 468 households in 2008 and 27 654 in 2010.Results The generalized ordered logistic model showed that the financial crisis significantly (P<0·05) decreased the probability of being food secure, mildly or moderately food insecure, compared with being severely food insecure (OR=0·74). A similar but smaller effect was found when comparing severely and moderately food-insecure households with mildly food-insecure and food-secure households (OR=0·81). The ordinary least squares model showed that the crisis significantly (P<0·05) increased the share of total income spent on food (β coefficient of 0·02). The quantile regression confirmed the findings suggested by the generalized ordered logistic model, showing that the effects of the crisis were more profound among poorer households.Conclusions The results suggest that households that were more vulnerable before the financial crisis saw a worsened effect in terms of food insecurity with the crisis. Findings were consistent with both measures of food security-one based on self-reported experience and the other based on food spending.