Photos by Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling by Brett Regot.
Taco seasoning is a pantry essential, adding rich, spicy flavor to anything it touches. In addition to seasoning taco meat, it can be used a million different ways: as a dry brine for big cuts of meat, a seasoning for casseroles, and a flavor booster for chili, just to name a few. Making your own taco seasoning at home is as simple as whisking together some pantry ingredients. It gives you complete control over its flavor, tastes way better than anything that you can buy, and saves you from having to go to the store in the first place.
Here’s how to make the very best taco seasoning at home — and how to use it for tacos and beyond.
Why You Should Absolutely Make Your Own Taco Seasoning
I grew up on those little yellow envelopes of taco seasoning and I loved every single thing my mom made with them. So it took me a while to come around to the idea that making taco seasoning myself was actually worth the expense and the effort.
This recipe is what finally convinced me. Most of the ingredients and spices are pantry staples I already have and use at home, and this from-scratch version makes everything, even basic tacos, so much more delicious. Tablespoon for tablespoon, homemade taco seasoning can actually be less expensive than buying a store-bought packet, too, depending on what ingredients you already have and where you buy your spices.
What’s in Taco Seasoning?
Fresh spices make for the best taco seasoning, which is part of why homemade taco seasoning beats the pants off of store-bought. Who knows how long those packets have been sitting on the shelves. Buying your spices in bulk, if possible, or from an online spice source like Penzey’s will ensure the spices are fresh. Buying in bulk is also often less expensive than buying them pre-packaged.
The base of this taco seasoning is a mix of paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powders, oregano, sugar, and salt, as well as two additional ingredients that may surprise you. Coriander is a sweet and warming spice that adds richness to the blend. And cornstarch acts as an anti-clumping agent, while also helping to thicken cooking liquids when the mix is added to chicken or beef tacos.
What’s the Equivalent of an Envelope of Taco Seasoning?
Taco seasoning packets vary a little bit by brand, but most are about 1 ounce by weight, or 3 tablespoons. Use 3 tablespoons of this homemade version for every packet you’re replacing in a recipe, or for every 1 pound of protein, such as ground beef, chicken or tofu. In total, this recipe amounts to a little more than five packets and lasts for months stored properly in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
The Best Uses for Homemade Taco Seasoning
Homemade taco seasoning is destined for crispy beef tacos, but you can use it in everything from soups to casseroles. Lately, I’ve taken to upgrading my buttered saltine crackers with this spicy, robust seasoning mix. Here are a few more of our favorite ways to use it:
- Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme
- 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- Beef Totchos
- Best-Ever 7-Layer Dip
- Slow Cooker Taco-Stuffed Potatoes
- Quick and Easy Sheet Pan Nachos
- One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta
- The Simplest Mexican Chicken Tacos
How to Make the Best Taco Seasoning at Home
Yield: Makes 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Measure out the spices into a medium bowl. Measure 1/4 cup sweet paprika, and 2 tablespoons each chili powder and dried oregano into a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of each of the following: cornstarch, kosher salt, ground cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Add 1 teaspoon each of the following: granulated sugar, ground coriander, and black pepper.
Whisk the spices together. Whisk everything together, breaking up any clumps.
Use or store. If not using the spice mix immediately, transfer to an airtight container for long term storage at cool room temperature. 3 tablespoons of taco season will season 1 pound of ground beef, chicken, or tofu.
Use: 3 tablespoons of this taco seasoning is equivilant to 1 package of taco seasoning.
Storage: The seasoning keeps well in an airtight container at cool room temperature up to 6 months
Meghan Splawn is the Food Editor for Kitchn's Skills content. She co-hosts a weekly podcast about food and family called Didn't I Just Feed You.