Homemade Taco Seasoning
Homemade taco seasoning to replace the store-bought taco packets is easy to make, packed with flavor, and better for you. Use it for tacos, soups, salads, and more.
This easy taco spice blend made with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and just the right amount of spice is easy to make and makes the best taco meat. Plus making it at home lets you control the spice level so it is perfect for your palette.
When I need a quick meal, tacos are always at the top of the list and having a jar of premade taco spices ready to go in my spice drawer makes that even easier. All I need is some protein - ground beef, chicken, seafood, tofu, or beans - and a few shakes of taco seasoning and dinner is ready.
However, since starting to make my own spice blend at home, I have started using it for so many other dishes. It makes the most incredible roasted vegetables and baked french fries. It also is killer as a rub for meats on the grill and makes the easiest three ingredient shredded chicken. Just combine chicken, taco seasoning, and a can of diced tomatoes. Trust me - so easy and delicious.
The other thing I love about making your own spice blend at home is that you can avoid many of the preservatives and additives in store-bought taco packets. Many times these have unnecessary ingredients and also often contain sugar. Making your own lets you control the ingredients and spice level for a healthier, tastier taco.
What is taco seasoning made of?
- Chili powder: This is the base of pretty much any taco spice blend and adds mellow heat and smokiness. Chili powder is normally made with ground, dried chile peppers along with some spices like cumin, oregano, and garlic.
- Cumin: This adds smokiness and a slightly nutty flavor to the mix.
- Garlic powder and onion powder: These add the aromatic flavors to the spice blend. You could also use dehydrated garlic and/or onions.
- Paprika: Smoked or sweet paprika can be used in this spice blend and each add an earthy, slightly smoky flavor with the smoked version having a stronger smoke flavor.
- Oregano: This herb balances out the spice blend and adds some freshness to break up all the spice and smoke.
- Red pepper flakes: This adds heat and spice and can be adjusted to make the mixture mild or spicy.
- Cayenne: This adds an extra punch of pure heat to the blend. Leave it out if you don't like things spicy.
How to use taco seasoning?
The most obvious use for this tasty spice blend is to make tacos but it is also delicious for soup, roasted veggies, shredded chicken, skillet meals, and more.
- Make tacos using ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork, tofu, or beans by simply adding 2-3 tablespoons of the homemade taco spice blend to a pound of cooked meat or beans.
- Taco soup is a terrific use for taco seasoning and this version using chicken breast, black beans, pinto beans, corn, and diced tomatoes couldn't be easier to make.
- Make a healthy taco casserole using ground turkey, beans, corn, and tomatoes all cooked together in one skillet and topped with melted cheese.
- Toss fresh vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower, butternut squash, or potatoes with some olive oil and taco seasoning to make the most amazing roasted vegetables or homemade fries.
- Use taco seasoning as a rub for grilled chicken, steak, pork, seafood, fish, or tofu.
- Add it to baked tortilla chips, popcorn, or mix it into Greek yogurt for a quick dip for chips and veggies.
How much do I use to replace one packet of store bought seasoning?
A store packet is usually 1 ounce and holds around 2.5 tablespoons of spices. This will vary slightly from brand to brand, with some packages weighing closer to 1.25 ounces. You will want to use 2-3 tablespoons of the spice mix to replace a packet in a recipe. Just taste as you go, you can always add more if needed.
How much seasoning do I need for one pound of meat?
Generally speaking, you will want to use 2-3 tablespoons of taco seasoning for every pound of meat. For ground meat, start by browning the meat and then add the taco seasoning. You can also use it as a rub to make grilled meats or add it to your slow cooker with chicken or pork to make shredded meat for tacos.
Recipe Ideas and Variations
- Control the spice level of this mixture by adjusting the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper in this mixture. For a mild option, make sure to use a mild chili powder versus a spicier option like an ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder.
- For a smokier mix, use smoked paprika in place of sweet paprika.
- Play with the amount of garlic powder and onion powder to change up the flavor. Garlic lovers may want to double the garlic powder or try making it with dehydrated garlic pieces, which have a stronger garlic flavor.
- Add coriander to the mixture to add another herbal flavor to the mixture. Coriander has a similar flavor to cilantro since it comes from the same plant.
More questions and answers about taco seasoning
1. What about the cornstarch?
Since I use taco seasoning for all different dishes (and not just taco meat), I do not include cornstarch in the seasoning. Cornstarch is a thickener and usually used in taco mixes to help create a thicker sauce for the ground meat.
If you like preparing ground taco meat in that way, you can simply add some cornstarch mixed with water to your ground meat to create the standard sauce you would get with a taco seasoning packet and water. It will also work great as written and still adds tons of flavor to ground beef for tacos without the need for any cornstarch.
2. How much water do I need?
Typically when making taco meat using a packet, you need about1/3 cup of water for each pound of meat and packet of seasoning. However, this taco seasoning is a little different since it doesn't include cornstarch or any thickeners. Typically I add right to the meat and find it doesn't need any additional water.
If you want saucier meat, then add about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of cold water. Add this to the cooked meat and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and let the sauce thicken.
3. How long will this keep? How to store it?
Store the taco seasoning in an airtight container in a cool, dry place like a spice cabinet. Assuming you are using relatively fresh ingredients, it should last at last 6-12 months, similar to most spices.
4. How to make it less spicy?
For a mild taco seasoning, leave out the red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. The chili powder will add a mellow heat to the seasoning mix without adding too much spice. Make sure to reach for a mild chili powder for a less spicy mix and avoid spicier options like ancho or chipotle chili powders.
5. How to make it spicier?
Depending on the type of spice you like, there are a few different ways to make a spicier taco seasoning. Adding more cayenne pepper is a fast way to add more heat, but it will be straight heat. Red pepper flakes will add spice but without the same intensity of the cayenne pepper. Adding extra chili powder adds both more heat and smokiness.
Another option, especially for those who love jalapeno, is to add these freeze dried jalapeno pieces. They are super tasty if you like spice and an easy way to add a jalapeno kick without the need for fresh.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
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- 2 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, a pinch)
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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