Fresh, fragrant, super easy, and flavorful homemade taco seasoning is way better than store bought.
Who doesn’t love tacos? I love fast and easy hard shell tacos with ground beef, lettuce, and tomatoes as much as I love long stewing birria tacos. Tacos are amazing and what’s even more amazing is making homemade taco seasoning so you never have to buy those little packets again.
What is taco seasoning?
Taco seasoning is a warm and savory spice blend that adds a smoky flavor to anything it’s added to. It’s used for tacos (of course) and also soups, casseroles, or for seasoning vegetables and proteins.
Why make homemade taco seasoning?
If you’ve ever looked at the back of a store bought seasoning packet, you probably know how much sodium they contain. When you make your own at home, it guarantees freshness, less sodium (so you can salt to taste), and the opportunity to customize the spices to your own personal taste. Plus, you can lightly toast the spices to bring out even more intensity and flavor.
Taco seasoning ingredients
There’s only 6 spices you may need to buy, plus salt and pepper!
- ground cumin – cumin is extremely fragrant and delicious. It’s nutty, earthy, and has a hint of spice. When you smell it, it’s the scent that most people associate with curry and chili.
- granulated garlic powder – use granulated garlic instead of powder because granulated garlic is a bit more coarsely ground and is what you usually find in commercial taco seasoning.
- granulated onion powder – ditto on the granulated onion instead of powdered onion.
- dried oregano – dried oregano is classic in Mexican cuisine. In fact, if you can, you should get Mexican oregano – it’s different than the stuff you usually find in the spice aisle. Read more about Mexican oregano below.
- smoked paprika
- ground coriander – warm, earthy, and nutty, ground coriander is super aromatic, slightly sweet, and slightly lemony. Ground coriander are the dried seeds from cilantro, so it’s no surprise to find it here.
- black pepper – most people don’t find black pepper spicy, and it isn’t, but it does add a nice warming hint of peppery-ness. Freshly ground is the way to go. The coarser your grind, the more you will taste the black pepper flavors.
- salt – you’ve got to have salt to enhance flavors. The nice part about making your own homemade taco seasoning is that you can adjust the salt to your own preference.
What about chili powder?
Although most recipes call for chili powder, we’re going to skip out on buying store bought chili powder and change the spice ratios to make up for it. This way you don’t need to go out and buy a spice blend just to make a homemade spice blend.
Essentially, chili powder is a spice mix that contains a lot of the same ingredients as taco seasoning, but in a different ratio. Chili powders are used to season chili – the stew. A lot of the recipes online for taco seasoning call for chili powder, but if you’re taking the effort to make your own seasoning, you probably don’t want to buy store bought chili powder. This recipe doesn’t have chili powder in it, it just adjusts the ratios of the other spices to create the right taco seasoning blend. The main difference between taco seasoning and chili seasoning is the addition of cayenne. There’s quite a bit of cayenne in chili powder, but here we’re keeping it to just 1/8 of a teaspoon to mimic what you’d get if used chili powder.
By the way, if you want to make homemade chili powder, it’s super easy to do, check out this post here.
Is Mexican oregano different?
Yes, Mexican oregano is a different plant altogether! It’s indigenous to Mexico and has a more woodsy, citrus-lime earthy flavor compared to your typical oregano, which is from the Mediterranean. You can find Mexican oregano in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store and if you can’t, you can sub regular oregano, but try and find some, it makes a difference.
The secret to homemade taco seasoning
Dry toasting spices intensifies their flavors by warming up and bringing out their aromatic oils. It also adds a layer of warm toasty-ness. To toast whole or ground spices heat them in a dry pan over very low heat, stirring often, until they smell fragrant. Remove them from the pan immediately after they become aromatic and be careful not to burn. The toastiness adds a whole other layer to your homemade taco seasoning.
How to substitute homemade taco seasoning for store bought
You can use 1/2 batch of this seasoning to substitute for any recipe that specifies a packet of the store bought stuff. Most packets of taco seasoning contain about 2 tbsp.
What can you use taco seasoning in?
You can use this as a seasoning for everything, from taco fillings to meats, vegetables, seafood, rice, beans, soups, and salad dressings. You can sprinkle, rub, or finish with it, it will add so much flavor. Here are some recipes to start:
Happy taco Tuesday and everyday!
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp dried oregano Mexican preferred
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper optional
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Amount Per Serving (1 tbsp)
Calories from Fat 2
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 0.01g0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.