Spices have always been costly but seasoning mixes used to prepare salad dressings, gravies, and meat dishes are even more expensive. When we first started making Mexican food at home, we always bought the brand name taco kits. As time went by and our family grew, it got progressively more expensive to make an easy dinner like tacos. One of the things we did was to start buying no name or store brand taco kits.
I eventually got to the point where I just buy the taco shells (or wheat tortillas, if I’m making soft tacos or some other Mexican dish.) I mix up the spices I need for my Mexican food myself and I often substitute them for commercial seasoning mixes or spices in recipes for chili, enchiladas, burritos, or taco soup. This way, I can control the heat and the earthiness of my taco seasonings. And I save money too.
I love to make taco seasoning for my gift jars, as well as for my own cooking. A jar of taco spices tucked into a basket of taco fixings makes a great housewarming gift or a birthday present for your favourite foodie! Or make up a basket of several different gift jars. I love to make up a basket of different seasoning mixes. But cookies in a jar are great too, as are flavoured coffee and hot chocolate mixes. Spicy Mexican foods go great with chocolate, after all!
Making Your Own Taco Seasonings
Most of the recipes I found for taco seasonings were pretty much identical. They used ingredients like red pepper flakes, which I normally don’t have in the house. Instead of leaving them out (they’re listed as optional in some recipes) I decided to tweak the recipe and substitute Hungarian paprika, which I do keep on hand.
This taco seasoning mix is earthy and not too salty. It has more bite than the commercial stuff, so if you don’t like it hot just use regular paprika instead.
Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp Hungarian paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
Mix all the spices, herbs and salt together. Store your taco seasoning mix in a labelled airtight jar. This recipe will make just a little more than 1 cup of the mix. It should last for 2-3 years in your cupboard, but I usually use it up fairly quickly. If your family loves Mexican food, you will too. Don’t forget to mix up extra for friends! you can make a double batch, and have plenty to fill up gift jars for the holiday season or special occasions.
How to Use Your Homemade Taco Spice Mix
Use 3 tbsp of taco seasoning mix to replace a packet of commercial taco spices. That should season about one pound of ground beef or other meat.
To make tacos with ground beef, first brown the meat. If necessary, drain the fat. Add tbsp taco seasoning mix per pound of meat, plus 1/2 tbsp of flour per pound of meat for thickening. Pour in roughly 2/3 cup of water per pound of ground beef; simmer until the meat mixture thickens up.
If you’re preparing a dish other than tacos, you may opt to use the taco spices without the flour and water. If you’re cooking chili or taco soup, for example, you may simply want to add the seasoning mix to your other ingredients instead of whatever spices are in your recipe.