Homemade Taco Seasoning

Whether for Taco Tuesday or any time you’re craving tacos, this homemade taco seasoning recipe is always good to have on hand. You won’t believe how easy it is to make and how many other uses it has well beyond tacos.

close up overhead shot of wooden spoon in bowl of homemade taco seasoning


 

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that buying packaged taco seasoning at the grocery store isn’t easy or cheap, but I will tell you that homemade taco seasoning is also easy and even cheaper and this is a great recipe for it. 

The best part about it? There are no preservatives, no crazy ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Why Should You Make It?

Creating your own homemade seasoning has numerous advantages over store-bought packets.

  • Control: When making your own taco seasoning, you have full control over the ingredients, ensuring there are no additives or preservatives. This also includes salt if you are watching salt intake.
  • Heat & Spice: You can customize the spice level to your liking, making it as mild or as fiery as you desire for your family’s taco night. If you like spicy taco meat, add more spice!
  • Budget Friendly: it’s a more cost-effective option, allowing you to whip up multiple batches at a fraction of the cost of store-bought versions. Most of the ingredients you probably already have in your spice cabinet.
angled close upshot of chicken tacos

What’s In Taco Seasoning

Store bought packets can contain over 100 ingredients, some of them aren’t even listed because they have trace amounts. Some are to prevent caking and others to perserve flavor. Yes, homemade is still a lengthy list, but I would bet you that most are already in your spice cabinet.

  • Chili Powder: A blend of ground dried chili peppers, it offers a rich, earthy, and slightly smoky flavor with a moderate level of heat, adding depth and warmth to dishes.
  • Ground Cumin: Cumin boasts a warm and aromatic taste with a slightly nutty undertone. It is a key spice in many cuisines worldwide and provides a unique combination of earthiness and citrusy notes, adding a distinct and flavorful touch to various dishes.
  • Coarse Kosher Salt: Less salty than table salt due to its larger crystal size. It offers a clean and pure salty taste without any bitterness, enhancing the natural flavors of the ingredients in a dish while providing a satisfying seasoning effect. It is also naturally preserves this blend so it is shelf stable for long periods. If you use a fine sea salt, reduce the volume by half to 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Garlic Powder: A convenient alternative to fresh garlic, offering a concentrated and mellow garlic flavor. Fresh garlic can also be used, but it not shelf stable, so this is a winner.
  • Onion Powder: A concentrated onion flavor that is both sweet and savory without the sharpness of fresh onions.
  • Dried Oregano: Oregano brings a distinct herbal flavor to dishes and is commonly used in Latin cuisines.
  • Paprika: Made from dried and ground sweet red bell peppers or mild chili peppers. It offers a sweet and mildly smoky flavor with a vibrant red color. While it adds a hint of spiciness, its primary contribution is the rich, sweet undertones it imparts to dishes. Use a spicy, sweet or smoked version.
  • Ground Black Pepper: A staple spice known for its pungent and warm flavor with a subtle earthiness.

Next all you have to do is combine these seasonings together and use them in the recipe that calls for taco seasoning!

If you want a super fine blend, like you would get in a packet, place it all in the spice grinder (or clean coffee grinder) and give it a few whirls.

angled shot of wooden spoon in bowl of homemade taco seasoning

Using Taco Seasoning Beyond Tacos

While this seasoning blend is perfect for ground beef tacos, it’s incredibly versatile and can be used to enhance a wide array of dishes; much more than just Mexican food. Try it in/on:

spoon in bowl of chicken taco soup

How to Make Ground Beef with Taco Seasoning

With a pound of ground meat and your own homemade taco seasoning, you can’t go wrong!

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef. If using a lean blend, add 1-2 teaspoons of a neutral oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Cook the ground beef, breaking it into small crumbles with a spatula, until it’s fully browned and no longer pink.
  3. Once the beef is cooked, drain any excess fat from the skillet.
  4. Sprinkle the taco seasoning evenly over the ground beef and stir to combine, ensuring all the meat is coated with the seasoning.
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of water or low-sodium beef broth into the skillet, and stir it into the beef and seasoning mixture.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has mostly evaporated, allowing the flavors to meld.
  7. Taste the beef and adjust seasoning if needed, adding more taco seasoning or salt to suit your taste preference.

For every 1 pound ground beef, use 2 tablespoons of this DIY taco seasoning. You can use less if you’d like, but I like a lot of flavor. In fact, you can even make it in the Instant Pot or Crockpot!

You can use this same procedure with ground chicken, ground turkey or even ground pork. 

angled shot of wooden spoon in pan of taco meat

How to Make Chicken Breasts with Taco Seasoning 

You have two choices here, you can either use the seasoning as a spice rub or as a marinade.

Taco Seasoning Marinade

  1. If using as a marinade, add 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs or drumsticks to an airtight plastic bag along with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons taco seasoning.
  2. Marinate for 2-24 hours. From here you can bake, fry or grill the chicken. 

Taco Seasoning Dry Rub

  1. As a seasoning, blend the spice mixture with 1-2 tablespoons or water, vinegar or hot sauce and then smother over the chicken pieces. Allow them to sit so the flavors can penetrate.
  2. Continue to cook how desired.
tongs tossing shredded taco chicken in crock pot

How to Make Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

The best vegetables to roast and pan fry are hearty and flavorful options like potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, and broccoli, which caramelize beautifully and develop a rich taste and texture when roasted. If adding less hearty options, start with the ones that take longer to cook and then add in things like tomatoes and herbs like cilantro.

  1. Add your chosen chopped vegetables to a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil, trying to keep them all in a uniform size so they cooked evenly.
  2. Heat over medium high heat.
  3. When hot, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning over the vegetables and cook until desired texture.
overhead shot of bowl of homemade taco seasoning

Spicer Recipe for Taco Seasoning

If you crave an extra kick in your dishes, there are several ways to amp up the spice level in our homemade version or a store-bought packet.

Increase the chili powder by doubling it, add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a fiery touch or try swapping the regular chile powder for ghost chile powder. Add crushed red pepper flakes or aleppo pepper. Experiment with different chili powder varieties to find the level of heat that suits your palate.

You can also add liquid hot sauce to the marinade or rub, to make a paste, on whatever you are using it on.

Taco Seasoning Packet Equivalent

Typically, a standard taco seasoning packet from the store contains about 2 tablespoons of seasoning. So, for a recipe that calls for one packet, you can use approximately 2 tablespoons of your homemade taco seasoning.

The general rule is 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning for every 1 pound of meat.

close up overhead shot of wooden spoon in bowl of homemade taco seasoning

Storage and Freezing

Now you’ve made it, how do you store it if you don’t plan to use it immediately.

Storage: Homemade taco seasoning can last for several months when stored in an airtight container, small mason jar or glass spice jar in a cool, dry place. Remember than any dried and ground herb and spice starts to lose potency around 6 months and so will this zesty blend.

Make ahead: This spice blend is easy to make into a large batch so you always have some made. Our recipe cards allow you to change the serving sizes and the volumes of ingredients will automatically populate so you can make as many as you need to replace taco seasoning packets.

Freezing: To extend its shelf life even further, consider storing it in the freezer, where it can stay fresh and flavorful for up to a year.

angled shot of slow cooker chicken tacos on plate

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I omit salt from taco seasoning?

Yes, you can omit the salt. Salt enhances the other flavors and helps to preserve the blend, but it is will still pack a punch as a low sodium taco seasoning. 

How much taco seasoning is in one packet?

There is roughly 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning in a packet. This recipe yields about the same amount. 

How long does taco seasoning stay good?

This easy taco seasoning will last for 6 months to 1 year when stored in an airtight container in a dry place. 

Can I use taco seasoning for fajitas?

You can use taco seasoning for fajitas, as the recipes are very, very similar, but I also have a super easy homemade fajita seasoning recipe you can check out! 

collage of homemade taco seasoning for pinterest

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angled shot of bowl of homemade taco seasoning with text overlay for pinterest
overhead shot of bowl of homemade taco seasoning

Taco Seasoning Recipe

4.90 from 38 votes
If you've ever wondered how to make taco seasoning, this easy Homemade Taco Seasoning is for you! Made with simple ingredients already in your pantry.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Servings: 1 2 tablespoons

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Stir together the chili powder, cum, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Store dry in an airtight container or use immediately.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Notes

This easy taco seasoning will last for 6 months to 1 year when stored in an airtight container in a dry place. 

Nutrition

Calories: 46 kcal, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Protein: 2 g, Fat: 1 g, Sodium: 2462 mg, Potassium: 191 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Vitamin A: 2865 IU, Calcium: 61 mg, Iron: 3.3 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 46
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: homemade taco seasoning, taco seasoning, taco seasoning recipe
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe, and I prefer it to my favorite packaged taco seasoning. I always quadruple the recipe as it goes quickly in our taco-loving family. You don’t mention that the oregano is Mexican oregano, so I will mention that as some newer cooks may only be familiar with the Italian/Greek version.

  2. 5 stars
    I am glad I have stumbled upon this recipe – it is just what I have been looking for. Tacos are very popular among my friends, so it is great for me to have this recipe somewhere I can easily find it… just in case.