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Behind the Seasoning: Taco Seasoning - What is it? Uses & Recipes

Jar of Taco Seasoning with three tacos and taco toppings
Taco Seasoning is one of the most well-known spice mixes across America. We’re digging into this classic, so read on for more taco tidbits and tasty recipes.

Let’s talk tacos. Traditional Mexican tacos are small, handheld corn or flour tortillas stuffed with just about anything you could imagine. You might be familiar with them as “street tacos”. There’s also the distinctly American hard-shell taco that you might have grown up with. Those Tex-Mex favorites are the ones we’re going to talk about here.

What is Taco Seasoning?

Taco Seasoning has masa harina, salt, chiles, tomato powder, garlic, cumin, California paprika, onion, white sugar, Mexican oregano, allspice. All of the spices are pretty finely ground with no large chunks. Taco Seasoning is the classic flavor of American style ground beef tacos. Whether you enjoy them at home for an easy weeknight dinner or a during a late-night fast food stop, the taste of tacos is just plain satisfying. 

Buy Taco Seasoning with spoon of Taco Seasoning on the right

How and Where to Buy Taco Seasoning?

You can find Taco Seasoning just about anywhere you can find food. However, many commercial varieties have preservatives, anti-caking agents, and other additives. Here at Savory Spice, our Taco Seasoning has spices and Masa Harina. Corn masa is a traditional ingredient that doubles as a thickening agent. Every other ingredient in our Taco Seasoning is just spices! You can always find it online or at any of our stores. Helpful tip, buy more than you think you need. One jar will season 2lbs of ground beef, so if you make tacos regularly, you might want to keep a 1 cup bag on hand.

What Does Taco Seasoning Taste Like?

Taco Seasoning flavor is generally mild and family-friendly. If you’ve never had saucy, ground beef tacos at home or from your favorite late-night fast food spot, we’ll try to describe the flavor (but trust us, just try it).

Is Taco Seasoning spicy?

Taco Seasoning ingredients aren’t particularly spicy but there are some chiles in it. It’s easy enough to add some chiles (or hot sauce) to kick up the heat. But if you really don’t want heat, you’ll want to know how to make Taco Seasoning less spicy.

The easiest way to enjoy a milder Taco Seasoning flavor is simply to use less. Our Taco Seasoning was created to be mild and family-friendly but if you find our recommendation for 4 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning per pound of meat to be too spicy, scale back by 1-2 Tbsp. If you’ve already made it, then taste the meat and think it tastes too spicy, consider first that the flavor of the meat will be balanced out by your taco shells and all of your toppings. In particular, dairy is a great way to mellow heat so adding a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of cheese will temper the flavor.

What is the difference between Taco Seasoning and Fajita Seasoning?

To understand the difference between our Taco Seasoning and Family Style Fajita Seasoning, you’ll need to know what the ingredients of Fajita Seasoning are. Our fajita seasoning has chunks of bell pepper, onion, and garlic as well as tomato powder, paprika, salt, chiles, cumin, Mexican oregano, and pepper.

Aside from the fact that Fajita Seasoning is coarser, the different ratios of spices give each a slightly different flavor. The tomato powder flavor is much more pronounced in the Fajita Seasoning and Taco Seasoning is a little sweeter and more aromatic. While you can use them somewhat interchangeably, the difference in flavor makes them distinct. Similarly, enchiladas share some of the same flavors and ingredients. While you might not want to substitute enchilada sauce for Taco Seasoning, our Canyon Road Red Enchilada Dry Sauce is another great Southwestern flavor.

Tacos with jars of Taco Seasoning and Fajita Seasoning

Are There Health Benefits to Using Taco Seasoning?

The benefit of Savory Spice’s Taco Seasoning is that we don’t use any fillers, additives, or preservatives. The only ingredient you might not recognize is Masa Harina, which is made from ground corn and acts like a thickener.

How to make healthy Taco Seasoning

If you have dietary restrictions or are on a low-sodium diet, the traditional taco seasoning might not be for you. There are great recipes out there for Salt Free Taco Seasoning. You can also modify any DIY seasoning recipe to suit your tastes and needs.

What Other Spices, Seasonings, and Flavors Pair Well with Taco Seasoning?

The best spices to pair with taco seasonings are the ingredients in taco seasoning. Try layering those spices into your other taco fixin’s. Add Ground Cumin to Charro Beans to bring out some earthiness. Add Roasted Granulated Garlic to Fire Roasted Salsa for a little more toasty flavor. Coriander Seeds add a subtle citrus notes to Cilantro-Coriander Pickled Jalapeños.

What is closest to Taco Seasoning?

Chili Powder is the base of a lot of DIY taco seasonings. You’ll need to add some other spices to make it more taco-like. But there are also great substitutes for taco seasoning, depending on the type of tacos you’re making. Instead of taco seasoning for fish tacos, try Honey Sriracha Lime Fish Tacos Spice & Easy. If you’re making Cochinita Pebil Tacos (shredded pork), try Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning.

What to substitute for Taco Seasoning? 

Maybe you have some dietary restrictions and you’re wondering, “What can I substitute for Taco Seasoning?” Good news! The ingredients in Taco Seasoning are pretty simple so, in a pinch, it’s easy to make your own. You can also substitute your favorite southwestern or south of the border seasoning. It won’t be exactly the same as a traditional taco spice but Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning and El Diente Southwestern Seasoning are great substitutes too.

Taco Seasoning recipe

We might be biased but we think the best Taco Seasoning is ours and sorry but we’re not divulging the recipe. But what if you’re out of Taco Seasoning and you can’t get to a Savory Spice store? Well, in that case you might need a DIY version.

 How to make Taco Seasoning

Well, you can find plenty of good DIY taco seasoning recipes. Most of them have spices you probably already have in your pantry: chili powdergarlic,cumin, and paprika.

How to Use Taco Seasoning

Obviously, ground beef tacos are the most popular use for taco seasoning. But you can also use ground turkey. But think outside the shell on taco seasoning. Try it in burgers or meatloaf, add it to salsas or dips, and make other southwestern-inspired dishes like taco soup or taco mac.

How much Taco Seasoning should I use for 1 pound of meat?

  • For ground beef tacos, plan on using about ¼ cup of Taco Seasoning per pound of meat.
  • For taco burgers, you’ll use about half that (2 Tbsp. per pound)
  • If you’re making grilled chicken, know that it doesn't require as much seasoning – 1 or 2 Tbsp. seasoning per pound of meat.

When to add Taco Seasoning

When you add taco seasoning to a dish depends on what you’re making. When you’re cooking tacos, you brown the meat first, then add taco seasoning and water. Let it simmer to create the familiar, saucy concoction. If you’re making taco burgers or meatloaf, you’ll mix it into the meat before cooking. If your recipe doesn't specifically call for taco seasoning, look for where the other spices are added and that’s a good place to toss it in.

Fiesta Guacamole on teal napkin with assorted toppings

Recipes Using Taco Seasoning

Obviously, Taco Seasoning is perfect for making tacos. Brown one pound of meat, then add 4 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning and 1 cup of water. Mix, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce to the desired thickness.

Bonus: You can add Taco Seasoning to your taco shells too. It’s just one more way to add layers of craveable taco flavor.

But it’s definitely not just for tacos. It’s a great seasoning to spice up your sides and create new taco-inspired meals.

Healthy recipes that use Taco Seasoning

Whether you have dietary restrictions or just want to make your tacos healthier, here are a few easy ideas:

  • Use ground turkey or lean ground beef and make sure to drain the fat.
  • Turn your taco into salad by omitting the shell and using shredded lettuce.
  • Try a taco veggie dip by mixing Taco Seasoning into Greek yogurt.

 Taco platter with assorted toppings and Cheesy Taco Shells

Tell us about your favorite way to use Taco Seasoning or tag us on Instagram (@savoryspiceshop)Try more Mexican-inspired recipes or Southwestern seasonings.

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