Confession time: we used to have tons of seasoning packets that we would use to make different recipes.
Which one did we use most often?
Taco seasoning, obviously!
We love, love, love tacos, whether it’s Taco Tuesdays or pretty much any time we get a craving.
And yeah, we used to love the convenience of just ripping open a taco seasoning packet and mixing in the pre-made mix into our taco meat.
But then we tried making our own taco meat seasoning from scratch.
Total game changer.
If you only make tacos every now and again, it does make more sense if you use a store-bought taco seasoning mix.
A pack will cost around $2-3 for around an ounce, so it’s no big deal.
BUT if you have tacos on the menu regularly, those single packets that seem so cheap by themselves can add up quickly!
Here’s a little experiment for you to try: go to your local Sprouts or other natural-food retailers and check out the spice aisle.
Bulk spices literally go for pennies, especially if you’re just buying them by the ounce. However, spices by the ounce is a LOT of a particular spice.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to use when making your own taco seasoning recipe: measure the spices by the teaspoon, and round up the cost of each teaspoon of common spices to around 10 cents each.
In a recipe like this one that calls for half a teaspoon of this and a quarter teaspoon of that, you can end up with a complete homemade seasoning mix that will cost you less than a dollar.
If you’ve been making tacos with pre-made seasoning mixes for some time now, you’ve probably already found the particular brand that you like.
However, do you remember how many brands you’ve tried before until you found one that makes the perfect taco taste for you?
The thing with pre-made taco seasoning mixes is that you can’t really play with the flavors of the mix because the spices are pre-measured.
With homemade taco seasoning, however, you can experiment with the spices until you find the perfect flavor profile for you!
Do you want your taco seasoning mix to be really spicy?
Add in another teaspoon of cayenne! Do you want to lower your salt intake?
Just lessen the recommended salt in the recipe.
Here’s another way that you can experiment with the spice mix: changing the texture!
If you want your taco seasoning to be a bit saucier, you can add a bit of cornstarch in the mix to help thicken up your sauce while cooking.
If you love the floral heat of chili powder, you can substitute red pepper flakes to give your taco seasoning a bit more body.
Don’t like a Spice? Swap it Out!
Not everyone is a fan of smoked paprika. Not everyone is a fan of oregano.
Unfortunately, those two ingredients are pretty common when it comes to most store-bought taco seasoning mixes.
If you make your own, however, you can swap out spices that you don’t like for milder flavors.
Switch out smoked paprika with regular paprika, or use basil or thyme instead of oregano.
If you are out of paprika here is a list of our favorite substitutes.
You Know EXACTLY What’s Going into The Mix
Have you ever glanced at the ingredient’s list of a pre-made seasoning mix?
Sure, you’ll probably recognize most of the ingredients, but you’ll also come across ingredients like preservatives, citric acid (to prevent clumping), and even additional MSG!
When you use a homemade mix, however, you know exactly what’s going in: 100% pure spice.
Fresh Spices > Pre-Mixed Prices
Here’s the big daddy of them all: freshness.
When you look for any other ingredient, you always go for fresh over store-bought when possible, right?
Why should it be any different for spices?
Spices, whether whole or ground up, have a shelf life where you can get the optimal flavors and aromas of the spice.
If you’re buying loose spices from a bulk bin, it’s really easy to smell or even taste (if possible) whether the spices are still fresh and good for cooking.
With store-bought spice mixes, however, you can never really be sure how long they’ve been sitting on the shelves, never mind sitting in storage!
How Long Can I Keep This Mix For?
If you store it correctly, this taco mix will be good for 4-5 months if you make it in bulk. We doubt it will last that long, though!
How Should I Store This Mix?
To ensure the longest shelf life possible, you need to store this taco seasoning mix in an airtight container, preferably made from glass to prevent the spices from drying up for as long as possible.
Mason jars with airtight lids are definitely our top pick!
Can I Only Use it for Tacos?
We know that we’ve been talking up a storm about using this mix for tacos, but you can definitely use it for other dishes too! Taco salads?
Side dishes like these yummy Ranch-style beans? Yes, please!
When you consider how many other recipes you can use this amazing, easy, and quick homemade taco seasoning mix can be used for, you’ll understand why we fell in love with it in the first place!
Taco seasoning recipe
This quick and easy spice mix can be made with spices that you probably already have in your pantry! One batch will equal one packet of store-bought mix, but you can increase the amounts recommended in the recipe to make a large batch to store.
- 1 T. chili powder
- 1 t. smoked paprika
- 1 t. cumin
- 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. fresh black pepper
- Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well-combined.
- Use immediately for taco recipe (approx. 1 packet for 1 pound of taco meat).