Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning
The BEST homemade taco seasoning recipe using 7 simple spices, plus salt & pepper! This single-serving recipe is the perfect replacement for 1 packet of store-bought seasoning—made with healthier ingredients and a more flavorful spice blend. Learn how to make taco seasoning at home with no sugar, lower sodium, and no fillers or artificial additives!
What can I use if I don’t have taco seasoning?
If a recipe calls for 1 packet of taco seasoning but you don’t have any at home, you can whip up a DIY taco seasoning mix with a few common spices! You can make a super basic taco seasoning with just chili powder, garlic and onion powder, salt, and pepper—or add even more flavor with cumin, paprika, oregano, and even cayenne. I’ll show you how to make taco seasoning using all (or just a few) of these, depending on what you have on-hand.
What is taco seasoning mix made of?
Most store-bought taco seasoning packets are made with lots of salt and are heavy on the chili pepper, alongside savory flavors like onion & garlic. Almost all contain added sugar—as well as starches & thickeners like corn starch, wheat flour, maltodextrin, or lactose. (Meaning many are not gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan.) Depending on the brand, you might also find additives like vegetable oil, silicone dioxide (an anti-caking agent), and “yeast extract” (a.k.a. MSG).
Comparing Store-Bought & DIY Seasoning Mix
- Ingredients. This easy taco seasoning is made with just spices—no added sugar, thickeners, or processed additives! I do love the convenience of store-bought seasoning packets, but I also like having the option to make my own at home, with ingredients and flavors that I choose.
- Sodium. Store-bought packets can contain anywhere from 320-380mg of sodium per 2-teaspoon serving—some as much as 500mg sodium. This low sodium homemade taco seasoning is just as flavorful and satisfying, with only 290mg sodium per 2 teaspoons. Personally, I think this DIY seasoning mix tastes better because it isn’t so overwhelmingly salty!
- Dietary Lifestyles. Making your own taco seasoning at home guarantees it’s gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. (And suitable for Whole30!) For anyone with food sensitivities or dietary restrictions, or if you’re vegan, paleo, or keto, whipping up this easy taco seasoning recipe can spare you the hassle of searching for a suitable store-bought option.
- Flavor. Just as important as what we eat is how we relate to what we eat. Store-bought packets can be tasty and convenient, but this homemade taco seasoning has a more flavorful blend of spices, without being too salty or too spicy for my taste. This means I enjoy eating my taco-seasoned meals more, which allows be to be more mindful as I eat, more present with my food, and feel more satisfied when I’m done. All of this plays a role in our health and overall wellness—our stress levels, our relationship with food, even our digestion.
Taco vs. Fajita vs. Chili Seasoning
Fajita, chili, and taco seasonings are made with similar ingredients, but in different proportions. Taco seasoning has a bit of spice and heat from the chili powder, but also savory balance from flavors like onion, cumin, and oregano. Chili seasoning has more chili powder and paprika, making it smokier and spicier than taco seasoning. Fajita seasoning has more cumin and less chili powder than taco seasoning, so it’s more savory and the least spicy.
Best Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
- Chili Powder. Savory and aromatic, with a bit of heat—but nowhere near as spicy as actual chili peppers or ground cayenne. As the base ingredient for this DIY taco seasoning recipe, I don’t recommend substituting for chili powder.
- Cumin. Rich, earthy, nutty, warm—and so comforting! Many store-bought packets don’t include cumin, so feel free to omit or substitute with additional onion powder.
- Paprika. A mild sweetness with some smoky spice—use regular paprika for a milder flavor, or smoked paprika for a richer smokiness. If needed, substitute with additional chili powder.
- Oregano. Savory-sweet, robust, and peppery. I love the aromatic flavor oregano adds to my homemade taco seasoning mix, but if you don’t have any, feel free to omit or substitute with additional garlic powder.
- Onion Powder. Pungent and savory, almost like a toasted onion! This is an important complement to the chili powder in this recipe, so I don’t recommend substituting for onion powder.
- Garlic Powder. A roasted, sweeter, garlicky flavor. If you need to substitute, use additional onion powder.
- Salt. Any good taco seasoning recipe needs enough salt—but not too much! Just a ½ teaspoon here maximizes the satisfying flavor without excess sodium.
- Black Pepper. Sharp, woody, and piney. I include just a bit to brighten up my homemade seasoning blend, but feel free to add more if you love black pepper.
- Cayenne. A smoky, earthy, peppery heat. Add a pinch for an extra flavor kick, or skip it if you’re not a fan.
Substitutions for The Most Basic Taco Seasoning
Personally, I think the best-tasting taco seasoning has a wider variety of spices, like the 9 listed above. But, if you don’t have all of these on-hand (or you don’t want to buy them), you can throw together a simplified version with just chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. (Ingredient amounts included in recipe notes below.)
How much taco seasoning do I need for 1 pound of meat?
This easy taco seasoning recipe yields ~3 Tbsp of seasoning—enough to replace 1 store-bought packet, which typically contains 3-4 Tbsp or 1 oz. Personally, I cook 1 pound of ground meat with 2 Tbsp of taco seasoning (homemade or store-bought). Although most store-bought packets say to cook 1 lb of meat with 1 full seasoning packet (3-4 Tbsp), I find I don’t need that much.
How to Make Taco Seasoning from Scratch
- In a small bowl or jar, combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
- Whisk well, or cover jar and shake to integrate.
- Use homemade taco seasoning like you would 1 packet store-bought seasoning. Or, multiply the ingredient amounts to prep a larger batch of seasoning.
How to Store Homemade Taco Seasoning
Store DIY taco seasoning in a sealed jar, bag, or airtight container for up to 6 months. Like other spices, it’s best to keep a homemade seasoning blend at room temperature in a cool, dry place like a pantry or cupboard. Although this recipe only yields as much as 1 store-bought packet, you can prep & store a bulk batch so you have a jar full of the best taco seasoning ready whenever you need it!
How to Use Taco Seasoning Mix
Just like the store-bought packets, this at-home taco seasoning is a tasty spice blend that you can use to season meat, or to add taco-inspired flavor to all sorts of dishes! These are some of my favorites:
- Vegan Jackfruit Tacos
- Copycat Crunchwrap Supreme or Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme
- Creamy Salsa Dressing for Taco Salad
- Meal Prep Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole
Easy Taco Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- pinch of cayenne, (optional)
- Measure spices into a small bowl or jar. Whisk well to combine, or cover jar and shake.
- Use homemade taco seasoning to season your favorite recipes!
- Entire batch yields 3 Tbsp and can be used to replace 1 packet (1-oz) store-bought taco seasoning.
- For a larger batch of seasoning, multiply ingredient amounts as needed and store in a sealed jar. (Multiply by 2 to fill an average spice jar, or multiply by 5 to get ~1 cup of seasoning mix.)
- Store DIY seasoning in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.
The Most Basic Taco Seasoning RecipeIf you’re in a pinch (i.e., you don’t have all of the above seasonings or you don’t want to buy them), you can make this Super Simple Seasoning Mix using just the absolute essentials:
- 1½ Tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper