Taco seasoning is easy to make at home with common spices you may already have!
Note: Below you’ll find a recipe for a full 1/2 cup (4oz.) batch of taco seasoning. In addition, in case you’re trying to make a recipe that calls for a packet of taco seasoning, we’ve also given a recipe below that makes exactly the same amount as is in a taco seasoning packet, 2 tablespoons. We hope you find this helpful!
Are you a die-hard Taco Tuesday fan? If you make tacos often and find yourself reaching for those taco kits time and time again, you should consider making your own.
Taco seasoning is easy to make at home with common spices you might already have in your pantry, like cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder, to name a few. Below you’ll find the recipe for making a full batch of taco seasoning, and also instructions for if you only need a smaller amount.
Why Should I Make My Own?
This seasoning blend tastes just like the taco packet you get in the store-bought taco kits, but without the additives! (What does “Natural Flavor” mean, anyways?) Plus, it usually ends up being more cost effective and has the added benefit of being customizable.
It takes just a few minutes to make and yields the perfect amount for a standard 4-oz. spice jar.
What’s In Taco Seasoning?
The main flavor profile is cumin, so if you don’t have everything on the ingredient list, you can still make a great-tasting taco seasoning with just cumin and any of the other spices in the list that you do have.
In addition to the cumin, I use onion and garlic powders, oregano, chili powder, and paprika. Chili powders can vary by brand in terms of heat and salt content, so use one you like. You can use either sweet or smoked paprika depending on your taste and what you’ve got on hand. Of course, the beauty of making your own is that you can customize your personal blend. If you want some extra heat, try adding a bit of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
If you’re cooking chicken or ground turkey for your tacos, you may also want to check out my Chicken Taco Seasoning recipe, which is slightly adjusted to be perfect for poultry.
Why Is There Cornstarch?
Some taco seasoning packets also contain cornstarch with directions to add a little bit of water to whatever the packet is added to. This helps to create a thickened sauce. The cornstarch in this recipe is optional, but can be added if you’d like a little bit of that same thickening power.
Depending on how dry the mixture is that you’re adding it to, you may or may not need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to activate the cornstarch. This is my favorite thing about this recipe and many other recipes online don’t call for it. So, if you’re used to taco seasoning mixes and want it to thicken when you add water just like the packet, then do this, otherwise leave it out.
Making Your Own Taco Seasoning
To make, simply whisk all of the ingredients together until well combined and then transfer to an air-tight container, preferably glass or ceramic. A funnel can be helpful for transferring the spice blend into a smaller container. Aromas and colors will transfer into plastic containers and are almost impossible to remove once it sets in, so I don’t suggest plastic.
Another easy way to mix everything is by placing all of the ingredients into a glass jar and simply shaking until everything is combined.
Keep the spice mix in a cool, dry, dark place, like inside a cabinet or pantry and it will last up to three months.
How Much Taco Seasoning Is In A Packet
Sometimes, you won’t want to make a full batch of the taco seasoning. For instance, if you are happy to buy the packets but just forgot that you ran out, then you only need to make a small amount to get you through. Or, if you’re cooking something and you just want to quickly measure in some spices to approximate taco seasoning, then you don’t need a full batch either.
A standard packet of store-bought taco seasoning has 2 tablespoons. So, if you have a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, you’ll use 2 tablespoons.
Below are the amounts to mix up that 2 tablespoons (1 packet) of taco seasoning. This is the amount to use for 1 pound of ground meat. Note that for this recipe, you don’t add as much water as you would if you had a packet of taco seasoning. You’ll only need 2 tablespoons of water. You brown the meat until fully-cooked, then stir in the seasoning, and then stir in the water. Simmer for 2 minutes.
|To Make 1 Packet (Which Is 2 Tablespoons) of Taco Seasoning, Combine:
• 1 and 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
• 1 and 1/2 tsp. onion powder
• 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
• 3/4 tsp. dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp. chili powder
• 1/2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
• 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
• 1/8 tsp. salt
To Add Spices Directly To What You’re Cooking To Approximate Taco Seasoning: Use equal parts ground cumin and onion powder. Then use half that amount of garlic powder and of dried oregano. You can also sprinkle in a little bit of chili powder and/or paprika (sweet or smoked). Add salt to taste.
Using Your Seasoning Blend
Taco seasoning is really versatile and is great on all kinds of foods. Using it is pretty simple once you know a couple of things.
How Much Taco Seasoning Per Pound of Meat?
As mentioned, most taco seasoning packets contain about two tablespoons. You’ll need the same amount of your homemade seasoning mix to season one pound of ground beef, turkey, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables.
When Do You Add Taco Seasoning?
Once the protein or vegetables are well browned, add the two tablespoons of seasoning and, if using the version with cornstarch, add two to three tablespoons of water or stock to blend the liquid and pan juices together into a sauce.
Note that seasoning packets often call for up to ¾ cup of water to be added, but since my recipe contains less cornstarch, you’ll only need a couple tablespoons of water.
What Else Can You Use Taco Seasoning For?
Without the cornstarch, this taco seasoning can be sprinkled on popcorn, chips, or crackers. With or without the cornstarch, the seasoning can be used as a rub or spice blend for chicken, fish, beef, and vegetables. It also makes a flavorful taco dip when mixed with cream cheese or sour cream.
Try it in these recipes as well:
- Ground Turkey Tacos
- Easy Shredded Chicken Tacos
- Taco Lettuce Wraps
- Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Bowls
- 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 tsp. ground chili powder
- 2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. cornstarch (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- In a medium bowl whisk together cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, paprika, cornstarch, and salt until well combined.
- Transfer mixture to an air-tight container. Store up to 3 months in a cool, dry, dark, place.
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