Homemade Taco Seasoning {recipe} – Polysyllable Free

Taco Seasoning - Homemade

Monosodium glutamate.

Autolyzed yeast extract?

Are we baking bread with our taco seasoning?! In a car, no less?!

In the midst of developing a recipe for Southwest Burgers, we had to take a moment for “taco seasoning,” basically any personally preferred mix of chili powder, hot pepper, cumin and whatever other special herbs and spices to transform plain ground beef (or chicken! or pork!) into something seasoningly appropriate for tacos, burritos and fajitas.

To make things easy, we were just going to go with one of any number (five, actually) of those seasoning packets at the grocery store. However, when we saw what was actually available on the shelves, we realized that “easy” was full of ingredients that are very difficult to pronounce. Of course we know that not every polysyllabic ingredient is bad for us — the word “vitamin” alone has three syllables! — but still, we couldn’t help but be eep-ed out.

Ethoxyquin? Seriously? (Don’t click the wikipedia link unless you’re okay with seeing the words “pesticide” and “pet foods” associated with your food.)
Taco Seasoning Packet Ingredients Lists
So we came back to the TasteSpotting Kitchen with a bag full of two-syllable spices to grind up our own blend. We based it on what we saw on the labels, as well as a few recipes we pulled up on our phone while in the store. We threw chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper together in a grinder and came up with a mix that we’ll be using again.
Taco Seasoning - Homemade, Ingredients
Our ratios — a heavy hand toward heat — are listed below. Start there, adjust accordingly, and perhaps incorporate cocoa powder, which we saw on the Lawry’s seasoning packet, but didn’t have on hand to try.

Do you make your own taco seasoning? What do you put in it? Any secret ingredients you’d like to share in the comments?!

Taco Seasoning - Homemade

TasteSpotting Kitchen’s Taco Seasoning

based on what we’ve researched on the web, seen, and tasted


4 parts chili powder
2 parts ground cumin
1 part paprika
1 part crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper
1 part dried oregano
1 part onion powder
1 part garlic powder
1 part salt
½ part black pepper


Throw spices and herbs in a bowl and combine.

If the spices are whole seeds/flakes, grind in a coffee/spice grinder.

by Sarah J. Gim on March 28, 2011 · 35 comments

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori March 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

My version is similar with slight variations in measurement. I make a separate mix for grilled fish tacos where I cut back on the chili powder and add thyme. So good on tilapia!


Heidi @ Food Doodles March 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Funny I just posted my own yesterday(http://fooddoodles.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/homemade-taco-seasoning/) Mine’s very similar to yours, nothing too funky. Next time I’ll try oregano, that sounds good :) I totally agree about all the weird ingredients. Why would you want to buy it from the store?


Cindy March 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I make my own, too, for that same reason…weird ingredients. I use some dried minced onion instead of the powder. A tablespoon of cornstarch works well when you add a bit of water (or broth) to it like most packages say. It makes the mixture saucy.


TasteSpotting March 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm

ah, that must be why some of the “packets” include the yeast or cornmeal or wheat/flour… to make it a little bit “saucy…”

still, we think “cornstarch” is easier to swallow than “autolyzed yeast extract” ;)

thanks for the tip!

Lizzie in Los Angeles March 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I make my own too, pretty much on an as-needed basis, modifying for what it is I’m “taco-ing.”
Those little packets are sooooo expensive too and for all I know, could even contain high fructose corn syrup which is in just about everything else …..


Boinga March 30, 2011 at 8:51 am

Yikes! I’m pretty happy to see that my store’s brand has nothing shadier than citric acid. However, I am absolutely looking forward to making my own. Thanks for the recipe!!


Crystal April 5, 2011 at 9:35 am

For a pound of ground beef I use…

1 T flour
1 T chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. coriander

The flour definitely adds a bit of a “saucy” touch. I like the kind of savoriness the coriander and the cocoa powder add to the mix. I used to buy spice packets but the strange ingredients and the realization that I had all these ingredients at home prompted me not to. Love this recipe – tastes great!


Suz March 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I know your post is from nearly a year ago, but…

Crystal, thanks for your taco seasoning recipe!
They didn’t have any packet stuff in my local shops, so found your mix. I too had all the ingredients already in my spice tin, and I too was horrified when I saw the nasty things listed on the packet seasoning.
I have to say, your recipe is pretty much identical in taste, if not better.

Thanks again, and please post any more amazing recipes!

Suzanne April 5, 2011 at 3:16 pm

love the photos and the recipe, much better for you!


Rose Luria April 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

I have lived in Mexico for over 30 years and have eaten all kinds of tacos. I like to brown the meat first and then throw freshh tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, onion and salt into the blender, with a little water. This I then pour over the meat and cook for like ten minutes. The taste is yummy and fresher, however I will try this one because many recipes call for taco seasoning and you just don’t find that in Mexico. I would like to know if someone has a recipe for salad dressing like the powder one Lawry’s makes and which you just mix with vinegar, oil and water.


Alice April 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm

This is the Good Season’s copy cat recipe… should be similar to Lawry’s


Chef Jeff April 10, 2011 at 9:03 am

I noticed in the great photo mixed peppercorns, which I thought Ahh, secret ingredient. Did you use the mixed peppercorns? That is one spice I have never tried; but I will now.

Yes, I make my own taco seasoning very similar with what you made. I have been working with Ancho and Chipotle chili powder as well as real Hungarian paprika. I never thought paprika had a taste!


Karen April 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Thank you! This is great. It’s not so hard to make homemade spice blends, and helps to recalibrate the taste buds to what is real and good.


Jason May 6, 2011 at 11:42 am

Autolyzed yeast extract is the base they use to extract Monosodium Glutamate. Legally then it is not MSG and they don’t have to label it as such. Yet another sneaky way Big Food gets around labeling requirements.

One good option for getting the sauciness and also being able to reheat the dish is to use a bit of Tapioca starch, commonly found in Asian Markets. It is pretty unique in that aspect, just make a slurry same as with cornstarch.



Karen October 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Thank you! I get so irritated that they dump all this garbage into the food in our country. We need to take a stand for our own health and be diligent and watch out for one another. With all the GMO corn out there…one would be leery about using cornstarch anymore. It is getting so much easier to switch to vegan lifestyle because of the harm in all the additives in food.

Nancy May 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

Wow! Who knew? I’ll never buy packaged taco seasoning again. Thanks for the insight and the recipe.


gracie May 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I like to cook


Gabrielle Bradley June 13, 2011 at 5:03 am

Hi, just made your taco mix, smells yummy delicious! I did add 2 parts masa harina for that saucy touch and 1 part ground coriander coz I love coriander!!! Thanks for the recipe. My son lives on taco meat and I like to limit the unpronounceable ingredients where ever I can.
Gabrielle in Hong Kong


Keely June 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

This sounds perfect! I always have taco seasoning packets on hand for taco night but this sounds SO much better. Your food pictures are just gorgeous. :::keelymarie:::


Jo-Anna July 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Oh I love to make my own! The flavour of home-made seasoning is amazing! Here’s my recipe:


Nyeer July 11, 2011 at 7:00 am

I never had a specific recipe for the taco seasoning, I just put together a mixture of seasonings that I believe will be good in the tacos, but surprisingly, my mixture has most of the same spices as in your recipe (I never used red pepper, too spicy for me).
The ingredient I add that is not listed above is “masa harina”, adds flavor and makes it saucier, I also add some when preparing tortilla soup, what helps thicken the soup.
I just love your site, the pictures are beautiful and the recipes are great!


Miriam @ Sometimes I Veg July 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

I need to start doing this. Tacos are a favorite at home but the ingredient list on the mixes have been turning me off lately.


Rebecca Richmond July 19, 2011 at 5:53 am

I also add a few tablespoons of masa harina – i picked that up from growing up in texas. I also add a few spoonfuls of salsa in with my chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and cumin.


Jackie Garvin July 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm

My recipe is similar to yours. I add about 1/2 tsp. of cornstarch to the water, also, for some thickening. Mix the taco seasoning half and half (no cornstarch) with brown sugar for an excellent dry rub for beef or pork.


Shannon August 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I ended up making my own taco seasoning once in a pinch because I ran out of the packaged stuff and was not able to get to the store (dinner was already cooking!) I found a recipe online (similar to this one), and I have not bought packaged taco seasoning since! Homemade is so much better. It’s super-easy to make, and a little goes a long way :)


Marc August 18, 2011 at 8:52 am

Question: Why did you use chili powder when most of the ingredients already in it are duplicated in your recipe?


Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese? August 27, 2011 at 10:22 am

Lately I’ve taken to making my own taco seasoning, initially out of necessity, but have continued to do it because it’s much better for you and I think much tastier. My version is extremely similar to this one, but can be jazzed up any way you like. Thanks for sharing, beautiful photos!


peteh September 19, 2011 at 5:55 am

Re: Marc’s chili powder question: I’m guessing that the ingredient in the recipe may actually be ground chili, which is pure chili with no additional ingredients.


Adeline April 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Wow! I found your blog on pinterest today and I love it! Thank you so much!


Courtney May 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I am allergic to Cocoa – I just found out that the taco seasoning I just bought has it in there – after a migraine and hives – I moved on. Ate at a Mexican fast food place for lunch today and thought I was going to itch my skin off. Found out on their web page they use cocoa. I will be making my own from now on! thank you for this post!!


Orquidea June 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Why do you use taco seasoning? What is that? I’m Mexican and we have nothing like that in here.
We use herbs while cooking, like dried bay leaf, thyme, oregano and / or marjoram, cummin, cinnamon, salt and pepper, persil, coriander, epazote, etc. Or we used pastes like mole paste (mixture of several chilis and seeds, also chocolate, or peanut), or axiote.


Raylene July 6, 2012 at 9:06 am

I sometimes use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika or add chipotle powder into my taco seasoning mix. They both add some nice smoky flavour and the chipotle powder adds a bit of an extra kick.


Shannon August 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

If you want to make your meat saucy, instead of water, try using tomato sauce, it gives it more flavor and it gives the thickness that the packages give you. I also add in some salsa. I don’t use this recipe but I’m going to try it or try adding cocoa to the recipe that I do.


Ann April 9, 2015 at 10:28 am

Thank you. I’ve had difficulty finding kosher taco seasoning in bulk. With Passover almost done, I love to do as many non-Passover tasting meals. Last night was fajita wraps in butter lettuce with guacamole. Your seasoning mix made the dish! I’ll never buy store bought again. My 17 year old knew wahat I had made as soon as his nose crossed the threshold.


Rowan January 31, 2013 at 8:21 am

Better yet, arrowroot powder.


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