I used to be a “seasoning packet” junkie. Store-bought packets of taco seasoning seemed so easy. But really, if you have a decently stocked spice cabinet, making your own homemade taco seasoning takes just a few minutes and costs less. I’ve experimented with different combinations of spices for taco seasoning over the years and I think I’ve found the winner! One batch of this super tasty homemade taco seasoning is roughly equal to one store-bought packet 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 for quick use later!
Why make homemade taco seasoning?
While it’s easy to just buy a pre-made mix, you can control the ingredients, freshness, and flavor of your homemade taco seasoning. So if you like your tacos extra smoky, go ahead and add more smoked paprika! Need low sodium? Mix up your own taco seasoning and use less salt. You have all the control when you make your own!
What’s in Taco Seasoning?
This homemade taco seasoning recipe has just seven simple ingredients that you probably have in your pantry right now! Taco seasoning is made with:
- Chili powder
- Smoked paprika
- Ground cumin
- Cayenne pepper
Customize Your Taco Seasoning
Here are a few substitutions and add-ins you can use to customize your taco seasoning to fit your budget and supplies:
- Smoked Paprika – I really think the smoked paprika made the flavor of this seasoning pop, but if you can’t get it, you can use regular paprika in its place.
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder – When I make taco meat I generally am also adding a diced onion and a clove or two of minced garlic, so I didn’t include any garlic powder or onion powder in this mix. If you prefer not to use fresh onion and garlic in your recipe, you can add 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp onion powder to the recipe below.
- Low Sodium – Feel free to reduce the salt content to meet your sodium needs. Keep in mind that salt does help make other flavors pop, so the taco seasoning might not be as vibrant with less sodium.
- Make it mild – If heat isn’t your jam, simply reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper. You’ll also want to make sure you’re using a mild chili powder. The heat level of chili powder can vary from brand to brand.
- Cornstarch – If you like your taco meat to have a slightly saucy consistency, add 1/2 tsp of cornstarch to your spice mix and add 1/3 cup water to your taco meat or beans when you add the spices. The water and cornstarch will create a nice taco-flavored sauce to coat the meat or beans.
How to Use Taco Seasoning:
Brown the ground meat first, then add one batch of the taco seasoning recipe below and continue to sauté for about two minutes more to toast the spices. For beans, simply add the spices and heat through. If you plan to use this taco seasoning for whole chicken breasts, simply sprinkle the taco seasoning over the entire surface of the chicken breast, then cook in a skillet until browned on the outside and cooked through. You can also use it to season potatoes or chicken before roasting.
How Much Should I Use in a Recipe?
This taco seasoning can be used in any recipe in place of one store-bought taco seasoning packet, which will season approximately one pound of ground beef, turkey, or chicken, or about 3 cups of cooked beans. The recipe below makes approximately 2 Tbsp of seasoning, so if you plan to scale the recipe up to make the seasoning in bulk, use about 2 tablespoons of seasoning for every one pound of meat.
How to Use Taco Seasoning
This simple taco seasoning can be used to season any type of meat, seafood, or vegetables. Here are a few recipes that use taco seasoning to inspire you:
How to Store Homemade Taco Seasoning
As with any dried herb or spice, this taco seasoning should be stored in an air-tight container and away from heat and direct sunlight. The lifespan of this seasoning will vary depending on the freshness of the herbs and spices you used to make this seasoning blend. Rather than going “bad”, dried herbs and spices slowly lose their flavor and potency over time, so for best results it’s recommended to use them within one year.
Note: I use a flat cost estimate for herbs and spices because they’re just too hard to measure and weigh such small quantities, so this cost is purely an estimate. I generally estimate ten cents for every teaspoon of an herb or spice, unless it’s a particularly expensive item. For salt, I generally estimate half that. So, take the cost of this recipe with a grain of salt (pun intended).
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- Combine everything in a small bowl and stir until evenly mixed. Use immediately, or store in an air-tight container, away from heat and sunlight, until ready to use.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.