Homemade Taco Seasoning: One of the Easiest Real-Food Substitutions Ever!


Please tell me you’ve made your own taco seasoning before. It’s so crazy easy.

In fact, it’s so easy that I was not convinced it needed its own blog post and the photo stayed in a folder for months. Then I realized: what if I have readers who still buy those icky envelopes of taco seasoning at the store? What if there’s just one of the 99 who has gone astray? NEVER LEAVE A MAN BEHIND!

Oh wait. Am I mixing metaphors and parables again? Oy vey.

Anyway, the point is simple: Taco Seasoning. Make it right now. The end.

Do you know what’s in the store-bought stuff? Here are the ingredients off the back of an Old El Paso taco seasoning packet:

“Maltodextrin, salt, chili pepper, monosodium glutamate, corn starch, yellow corn flour, spice, sugar. Contains less than 2% of: natural flavor, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), yeast extract, ethoxyquin (preservative)”

Excuse me while I gag a little. Ewww, yuck! Those nasty ingredients are SO uneccessary! I mean, maltodextrin?! A yucky genetically-modifed corn derivative? Why not just use regular ol’ spices??

I’m all for lessening the guilt that all of us bear for not having a perfect diet, but this one? So freakin’ unnecessary. The homemade version tastes exactly the same, if not better (not always the case in real food, but seriously you cannot tell a difference), and takes about 3 minutes to mix up.

I always make a big batch and store it in a small mason jar in my cupboard, and just use as needed. I only have to make new stuff every fourth or fifth time I make taco salad (what we usually use it for). It’s amazing.

Oh, and by the way, there about a squajillion recipes out there on the interwebz for homemade taco seasoning. They are all virtually the same, to be honest. Slight variations, but overall they are very similar. This is my version that includes a secret surprise ingredient: cocoa.

I also use cocoa in my chili recipe, which really brings out the depth of flavour in the tomatoes and the other spices. I think it works perfectly in the taco seasoning. Give it a try!

PS. If you like Mexican flavour, you really have to check out my absolute favourite-ever soup recipe: Southwest Taco Soup. Perfection!

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Condiment
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 4 teaspoons salt (real sea salt is best)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (try smoked paprika for a slightly different taste!)
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons oregano
  • 1.5 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon spicy chili flakes (OPTIONAL, if you like it spicy!)
  1. Mix everything in a bowl, then store in a tightly sealed container in your spice cupboard. I now use a mason jar, which works great.
Shelf life of this seasoning is the same as the shelf life of the spices that you used! My mom has spices in her cupboard from 2007, but I know some people replace theirs every six months! Make your own call on this one.

Also of note: I use approximately 3 tablespoons per pound of ground beef, but you should adjust this to your own tastes! Start with 1 or 2, and add more as desired.

Try it also in other meats, like pork or chicken, and you can even use it for flavouring beans or lentils!

I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.

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  1. Susan says

    I have made my own taco seasoning for years and have found that Hungarian Hot Paprika makes it a little spicier. My kids love it that way. I’m glad to see so many people sharing homemade recipes for often store bought stuff.

  2. Frances says

    I used this recipe tonight for our tacos – it was delicious, thank you!! I had tried other homemade variations before but this by far is the best one – must be that secret surprise ingredient!

  3. Faith Davis says

    do you add your seasoning to water and if so how much? I just mixed up a batch of the recipe I use, but will be trying this when I run out. As my hubby always says, I will try anything once.

    • says

      I usually just start frying up the meat and sprinkle the seasoning on and stir/mix it in, to taste. I might add a little tiny bit of water if there’s not enough fat (I try to avoid extra-lean though!), but generally you don’t need it.

  4. says

    When I moved to the UK thirteen years ago, initially I saw the lack of usual North American-style store cupboard ingredients as a curse. In those first few years I learned to make so much from scratch, especially food! Nowadays some of those originally longed-for items grace our supermarket shelves, but I would never go back. Homemade tastes so much better and a few minutes of extra prep time is totally worth the better end result.

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