One of the first things I learned aboard Que Tal was that packaged seasoning mixes don’t mix well with the typical humidity on a boat. The previous owners had left several packages of taco seasoning and I got one out to use the first week we were aboard. Imagine my surprise as I opened it to find it all globbed together and moldy!
Hmm, time to learn to make my own! (Learning how to store spices and packets was also a priority.) And as we cruised Mexico and Central America, I almost never saw packaged taco seasoning — Mexican tacos are actually quite different from what we call tacos in the US.
Over time, I experimented with my seasoning mix and actually like it better than what comes in the packets. Three other benefits:
- It’s much cheaper to make my own,
- I can control how spicy or mild the mix is AND
- It’s low sodium without sacrificing taste. The recipe itself doesn’t have any salt in it, but most chili powders do have some, so just exactly how “low sodium” the mix is will depend on your chili powder.
Unlike the packaged mixes, this does not contain any cornstarch and you don’t need to add water as you’re cooking the taco meat. With ground beef, I generally just sprinkle the seasoning over the meat as I’m browning it. For chicken or fish, I put the seasoning and the meat in a plastic bag and shake to coat it all before cooking.
You can use it in other recipes just as you’d use a packet of seasoning.
- 1/2-1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano Or Italian seasoning.
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper Omit for milder version.
- Mix all ingredients.
Hi Carolyn, I have been making my own seasoning mix for a few years and make enough to store in a pint jar. You are right, it is so much better than packaged and doesn’t have the ingredients we don’t need.
MaryJo Boyle says
I happened to check the label on my taco seasoning and was surprised to find wheat flour as one of the ingredients! Good thing I checked because we have a guest coming who is on a gluten free diet.
Yes, the wheat in commercial taco seasoning packets was of concern to me too, because we are also having a gluten-sensitive (non-celiac) guest later this month. She swears she isn’t “that” sensitive, and her husband LOVES any kind of tacos, but I didn’t want to take any chances (with digestive upsets) and was revisiting this recipe. Am glad it came up again on the newsletter. Thanks, Carolyn!
John Norris says
This is great seasoning. Love the ability to control the amount of salt.
Nancy Orloski says
Thanks for the recipe, always good to have something that’s good and saves money too.
What sauce is on top in the picture that you have in this post? It looks really good!
Carolyn Shearlock says
It’s the one in the Fish or Chicken Tacos recipe — click link (it’s NOT in the cookbook). I love them!
Nancy Olroski says
I will definitely give it a try, thanks.
Beth Browne says
Absolutely *love* this idea and will definitely try it. I hate all those nasty ingredients in packaged mixes. Thanks!
Jan Bogart says
Thanks…..how do you keep garlic powder from solidifying?
Cork Lillick says
Use fresh garlic. Forget garlic powder.
Jan Bogart says
Yeah, it only lasts a few days for us. Haven’t bought it in years.
The Boat Galley says
I use beans instead of rice since they’re bigger and won’t go through the shaker holes. But the bigger thing is to never shake the garlic powder over a hot pan — the steam gets in the jar and then the garlic powder turns to concrete!
Frances Liz Fernandez says
Thanks. I’m going to try it out
Dave Skolnick (S/V Auspicious) says
Wonderful article. Carolyn is spot on as usual. There are additional benefits, most importantly increasing turnover of your base seasoning so they are fresh. The only spice mix I carry is chili powder which can be fussy. Everything else (taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, etc.) I make myself. In my cabinet:
Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, kosher salt and pepper, oregano, basil, paprika, tumeric, red pepper flakes, cumin, cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, dried mustard or mustard seeds, chili powder (cheat), bay leaves, tarragon
Whole ginger in the freezer, whole nutmeg in the pantry.