Homemade Taco Seasoning

$0.34 batch

I used to be a “packet seasoning” junkie. It just seemed so easy. But really, how difficult is it to measure out a few spices? It takes five minutes, max. So, I’ve experimented with different combinations of spices for taco seasoning over the past year, and I think today I found the winner! One batch of this is roughly equal to one of those packets that you can get at the grocery store and it’s 10 times more flavorful. You can even mix up big batches of it and store it pre-mixed in an air-tight container.

I use a flat cost estimate for herbs and spices because they’re just too hard to measure/weigh, so this cost is purely an estimate. I generally estimate five cents for every teaspoon, unless it’s a particularly expensive herb. For salt I generally estimate half that. So, take the cost of this recipe with a grain of salt (har har har).

I really think the smoked paprika made the flavor of this seasoning pop, but if you can’t get it, use regular paprika in place of it.

It’s also worth noting that I usually use fresh garlic and onions in whatever I’m making with my taco seasoning, so there is no garlic or onion powder in this mix. If you won’t be using fresh, you’ll probably want to add some powdered.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

5.0 from 3 reviews
taco seasoning
Prep time
Total time
Total Cost: $0.34
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder $0.15
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1 tsp cumin $0.05
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • ½ tsp oregano $0.03
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • ½ tsp (15 cranks) fresh black pepper $0.05
  • ½ tsp corn starch (optional) $0.02
  1. Combine everything in a small bowl and stir until evenly mixed. Corn starch is optional but it will help thicken any sauce or absorb excess moisture in whatever you add the taco seasoning to (commercial taco seasoning packets contain corn starch).


Step By Step Photos

taco seasoningCombine the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano, freshly cracked black pepper, and salt in a bowl. I would say this mix is “medium” spicy. Adjust the cayenne to make it more or less spicy.

stirStir until evenly mixed.

corn starchAdd corn starch to help thicken whatever you’re adding the taco seasoning to. It also helps prevent sogginess from moisture that may seep out of vegetables or other ingredients.

done taco seasoningStore the taco seasoning in an air-tight container in a cool dark place until ready to use.


  1. Mari says:

    Thank you – this is a great seasoning to have in the cupboard.

  2. Heidi says:

    Do you add water to the seasoned ground beef when you make tacos?

    • You can add a little to help rehydrate the spices, if you wish, but I usually don’t. If you do, add about 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup and make sure it cooks long enough to evaporate off. I find that beef has enough moisture in it to help rehydrate the spices, so I don’t add any more.

  3. Leslie says:

    I love this recipe! How much fresh garlic and onion would you recommend to compliment this recipe for 1 lb. of ground beef, for say, tacos, etc.?


  4. acoustic_alchemy says:

    Sorry to necro an old thread, but I just made a batch (minus the salt), added half a jar of chunky medium salsa, and after simmering the whole lot, dumped a cup of leftover Kraft mac n’ cheese I made the other day. Ta-da- spicy macaroni! Granted, it turned out to be “kinda like chili with some macaroni tossed in”, so I’ll make this with a whole box next time…or add garlic and beans to make a proper vegetarian chili. Thanks Beth!

  5. SO GOOD. This can be so easily tweaked for preference (we like our seasoning really hot) and the spices you like best. We use this ALL the time now! Thank you!!

  6. Mary says:

    I use ancho chile powder for the chile powder. I always make my tacos with ground turkey.
    I also used this as a spice rub for grilled pork chops and they came out great.

  7. Anony says:

    Hi Beth,

    I know you posted this recipe over a year ago, but any chance you could cover briefly what the ingredients are in the “chili powder” you used? I don’t think we have anything exactly like it over here, and some stuff online suggests the American “chili powder blend” (which is what you seem to mean) typically contains garlic and onion powder?


    • Well, the label isn’t too specific (unfortunately). It says: chili pepper, spices, salt, silicon dioxide, and garlic. I think the bulk of it is mild red chiles and that’s what gives it that deep red color. I’m surprised it says salt, because it doesn’t taste salty at all. If you can find mild chili powder (made of just mild chiles), I think that would be a reasonable substitute.

      • Anony says:

        Thanks, that’s very helpful.

      • Jon Parker says:

        I make my own chili powder by toasting dried chiles (some combo of anchos, pasillas, and chipotle moritas). Then I grind them in a coffee grinder. It’s much better than the commercial stuff.

  8. Leanne Shuttleworth says:

    A great website. Thank you! I used the taco seasoning in the Hearty Black Bean Quesadilla recipe. A tablespoon of chilli powder was a bit much for our kiwi taste buds. Had my family running for the ice cream. Nice recipe otherwise :)

    • Glad you liked it! I think what people in other countries call “chili powder” is what we call cayenne pepper, which might be why it was so hot! Chili powder here is a blend of mild chilis, cumin, and sometimes other spices. So, that might have been why your tongue was on fire! :)

  9. Amanda Wrege says:

    I knew you’d have this on your blog. So glad I checked here first ;) It’s a taco soup night!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Out of corn starch, so I subbed about an equal amount of cocoa powder. Yum! (If making a bigger batch, would use 1/2 cornstarch & 1/2 cocoa… To get the cocoa flavor and cornstarch properties).

  11. Anonymous – One batch of this would be enough for one pound of beef. Some have even said that they’ve used less and it was still good! :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    How much water should I add per pound of beef? And would this amount be right for just 1 lb ?

  13. I’d start with about 1/4 teaspoon of each garlic and onion powder. That should be good!

  14. Anonymous says:

    How much Onion Powder and Garlic Powder would you recommend using?

  15. Anonymous says:

    For fresh mix, use masa harina as the thickener. Adds a little corn taste. =)

    Thanks for the ideas to keep the mix in an old cleaned out spice jar.

  16. Finally a recipe that doesn’t have garlic powder and onion powder. I like to use the real stuff.

  17. I made a 9x batch and it fits perfectly in an empty garlic powder container.

  18. Anonymous says:

    how much is it

  19. I bought a cheese shaker to keep my taco seasoning in and just shake what I want into the recipe. You can add as little or as much as you want to suit your tastes. I have doubled this recipe for my jar so I am not making it all the time.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Mom: Uh oh. It’s taco night and I don’t have seasoning…
    Me: Budget bytes has a taco seasoning recipe!

    So good.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Used this to make chicken tacos today.

  22. I like adding a bit of baking cocoa powder to my mix, it adds a really nice depth of flavor.

  23. Anonymous says:

    yay! thank you!

  24. I LOVE your blog! Thank you for all the fabulous money saving recipes you post!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant! I love this! Worked like a treat. Now for a fajita mix, please.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad you experimented and figured this out…I always have these ingredients in bulk (well…haven’t found bulk smoked paprika but I always have a little bottle of that) but when I try to do my own taco seasoning it ends up tasting like my chili seasoning. Can’t wait to try it.


  27. I just use one batch like I would one envelope of taco seasoning from the store. Although, most people are responding that it was a bit much, so maybe half a batch is good enough for most!

  28. Anonymous says:

    How much do you use though..? Last time I made this, I blew my mouth out but I did add the whole mix with 1 cup of water..

  29. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this recipe, it was so good and so much better than the packets! I didn’t have any paprika, so I just threw in an extra teaspoon of chili powder. I used it in your quesadilla recipe and it was awesome.

  30. I’ve been making a similar recipe for years. Try adding garlic and onion powder.

  31. I really like adding the corn starch as it gives a more “cohesive” element. :)

  32. Most homemade taco seasonings have WAY too much cumin for me. I like just a hint to get the smoky flavor. So 1 tsp of cumin… count me in! Can’t wait to give it a try!

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