My son, in particular, loves tacos. Hard, soft, he doesn’t care, but he has a particular affinity for tacos made from ground beef, and a love of deep rich flavors and a just little heat. (More heat as he’s gotten older! Can that kid go through the Sriracha now that he’s in his 20’s!) So we started making our Taco Seasoning Homemade, and don’t worry about that little mention of heat and Sriracha; this one is family-friendly.
I have a hard time turning down a taco, too. Any taco. Ground Beef, Chicken, Shredded Beef, Pork or a veggie version. It doesn’t matter to me, they’re all delish. The only thing is, I do have a hard time shelling out my hard-earned dollars for a packet of Taco Seasoning from the store that isn’t anything more than a few spices I already have at home. Is anyone out there with me, here?
About Taco Seasoning Homemade Version:
The first time we ever made our own homemade taco seasoning, that son was just a kid. Seven or so. We were making tacos and realized, yep you see where this is going, we were out of the packets! Not to be deterred, and this was pre-internet, I looked at some of my favorite Mexican recipes and pulled the spices from them. One of those is our beloved Picadillo Tacos which is on my site, now.
Mexico doesn’t really have a tradition of ground beef tacos like we have here in the States, but they do have Picadillo, which is a ground beef mixture pretty famous throughout Latin America (especially Cuba) from the Islands to Mexico. We riffed off those fun spices for this mix and perfected by having tacos about once a week for several weeks until we got it just “right” for our family. I still remember how excited Kraig was to taste each new variation. He was so proud of it.
We still use this seasoning in our house as our “House Seasoning” and I’m pretty proud of it, too. It’s just a bit different than most standard taco seasonings although it contains most of the “usual suspects” which are the common spices you’ll see in many taco seasonings. It’s not hot but does have a bit of a kick and I think it’s just perfect for a family. Try it once and up the amount of cayenne and red pepper if you’d like. If you’re looking for something a little more serious, try out our Smokin’ Chipotle Taco Seasoning.
Why Should I Make this Homemade?:
I already mentioned several reasons why including cost, replacement, flavor and controlling the heat. You might have stopped by here for the same reason I initially made my own. I ran out. But you might find out like I did that there are other reasons you should keep making your own:
- Homemade is less expensive than store-bought, even more so if you have bought the spices at a great price.
- The recipe is nothing more than standard spices that you may have on hand, many can be bought in larger bulk containers.
- Mixes and blends like this are a great way to keep using those spices you have in your cupboard so they don’t languish.
- Homemade Taco Seasoning couldn’t be faster or simpler to make. Just measure, dump and mix.
- Your own seasoning is going to be fresher than any store-bought packet.
- You get to control both the sodium and the sugar in your mix and other ingredients if you are dealing with allergies or other considerations.
- It’s clean and you can pronounce every ingredient in this homemade version.
- You can easily customize to your family’s taste and heat level.
Why Sugar, Salt & Cornstarch?:
First of all, you don’t have to use any of the three if you don’t wish to.
- The sugar adds a bit of spark to your final recipe but can be easily omitted or substituted with a different type of sweetener.
- There is salt but not much. You can omit or substitute if you have concerns about sodium, substitute a different salt if that fits your standard, or use more salt if you have no worries about it.
- The cornstarch does two things. It helps to keep your mixture free-flowing and it is the ingredient that “thickens” the taco seasoning so it clings to your ground beef or other protein. You can substitute with arrowroot, potato starch or simply leave it out.
How to Use Homemade Taco Seasoning:
puts together our classic Homemade Tacos when we go all out with our own shells and the works, see this post on Our Family’s Favorite Taco.
This Taco Seasoning Homemade is pretty straightforward and doesn’t have all the added junk you’re likely to see ina store-bought packet. It does have a little sugar, and I’m not normally one for extra sugar, but it makes this seasoning taste so good! Omit it if you’d like.
The other ingredient that might take people back just a bit is the cornstarch. It keeps the mixture from clumping all up and also helps the taco seasoning cling to the ground beef. It isn’t entirely necessary and can be omitted. Substitute potato starch or arrowroot if you’d like or just leave it out altogether if that’s more your style.
Saving Money on Taco Seasoning Homemade:
I buy some of these spices that I use so often in other spice blends and rubs in big plastic jars or jugs at Costco or sometimes the grocery store. I see them often other places, too. That’s onion and garlic powder, paprika and cumin. I have small “working” jars in my spice cupboard and keep the larger jars up in a cool, dark cupboard and they stay fresher longer.
Watch for spices to go on sale around holidays and replenish any that are getting low. Beyond that, spring is a great time to watch for low prices and specials on spices. McCormick, in particular, usually runs “Catalina” sales every Spring. Catalinas come in two parts. Generally, when you buy something, a piece of paper spits out notifying you of the upcoming “like” product Catalina. Say you bought a box of vanilla, you might see a Catina notification that says something like “Buy 4 bottles of any McCormick flavorings or food coloring, get three dollars back.” It will let you know when the Catilina sale starts, and say something like, “Good from such and such date to such and such date.”
That means if you go back to the store during that time period, and buy four of the items, you’ll get a Catalina, a slip of paper that spits out at the register, for the three dollars that you can spend almost any way you want in the store. Generally, when a company runs a Catalina sale, the producer will put out a lot of coupons and usually, the grocery store puts the item on sale, too, so it can be quite a cost savings. Your coupon matching site, which should notify you of good deals, not just coupons, should alert you to these. Sometimes the store doesn’t advertise the upcoming or current Catalinas.
If you’d like to see more of my spice & herb blends, check out Spice, Herb & Flavor Packet Substitutes. I’m always adding as I go along! And if you’d like to see more of my Mexican and Mexican Inspired recipes, see this post on Recipes for Cinco de Mayo or Anytime.
You can see immediately in the recipe that Taco Seasoning Homemade has pretty standard ingredients that most people who cook probably have in their house. You might want to mix up a batch and try it, and then if you like it as much as we do, and eat tacos as much as we do, make a larger batch. It really IS that good! All IMHO, that is. If you’d like to see how our familyPrint
Taco Seasoning Homemade – Our Family’s Favorite
Long a family favorite, there’s no doubt this seasoning will become your “signature” house special for tacos!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1/2 cup 1x
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (helps to thicken and coat and helps to keep the mixture from clumping as it is stored)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (add more or less to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano or Mexican oregano, optional
Mix together. Makes about 1/2 cup. Store in a tightly sealed jar in a dark, cool cupboard. Increase as desired.
Use 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons (this amount equals a 1 1/4 ounce seasoning packet) per one pound of browned and drained ground beef. Push aside the grouond beef, add the seasonig and toast for a minute, until just fragrant, in the skillet, then add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and simmer several minutes to desired consistency.