Have you ever grabbed one of those 99 cent packages of taco seasoning from the grocery store for a “cheap” meal?
If so, you got ripped off. The seasoning in those packages isn’t that cheap when you look at the price of the separate ingredients. You can buy spices in quantity and mix them yourself for a fraction of the price. (And bonus, you’ll have tons of herbs and spices for other seasoning mixes too!)
Here’s how to make your own taco seasoning.
Thrifty DIY Taco Seasoning
You only need a few ingredients to make a delicious, Tex-Mex seasoning.
- 10 tbsp of chili powder
- 5 tbsp of cumin powder
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of onion powder
- 1 tbsp oregano
- Salt to taste (this is entirely optional – you can also add salt as you cook)
- Sugar to taste – some packaged taco seasonings contain a bit of sugar – you can add a tiny dash of sugar to your mixture if you want to replicate that flavor
In a completely dry bowl, mix all these herbs and spices together with a fork. Then pour them into a jar and your taco seasoning is ready to be used.
How to Use DIY Taco Seasoning: To make taco filling, brown the meat you’ve chosen to use. Then add 2-3 tablespoons of taco seasoning per pound of ground meat.
Some other ways to use DIY Taco Seasoning
Here are some other tasty and creative ways to use your DIY Taco Seasoning. Generally speaking, use 2-3 tablespoons of seasoning per pound of protein.
- Slow cooker Mexican chicken: In a slow cooker, add taco seasoning and some diced tomatoes or salsa to boneless, skinless chicken. Cook on low all day long. At serving time, shred the meat with two forks and serve on soft tortillas.
- “Refried” beans: Add 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning to a can of undrained beans. (Black or pinto beans work well for this.) Stir it well, then mash the beans roughly with a potato masher – you want to leave them chunky. Heat and serve.
- Tex-Mex Dip: Add 1.5 tablespoons of taco seasoning to 1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt. (Learn to make your own yogurt here.) Serve with tortilla chips or veggies.
- Mexican rice: Add 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to cooked white or brown rice. Stir well to combine and heat through.
- Tex-Mex pilaf: Make Mexican rice, above. Add a can of black beans, undrained, and a can of corn, drained. If you have bell peppers, chop them finely and stir them in. Combine everything for a tasty side or main dish.
- Barbacoa: Grab an inexpensive roast and put it in the crockpot. Add 1 cup of tomato juice and 3 tablespoons of taco seasoning. Cook all day on low, then shred the meat at serving time. Use this for tacos, burritos, and other Tex-Mex dishes.
- Chili: Add 3 tablespoons of taco seasoning to your usual chili ingredients. I cook one pound of ground meat with onions and garlic, then add 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 1 can of pinto beans, and some chopped bell pepper to taste.
- White Chili: Use leftover shredded cooked chicken, 4 cups of broth, 1 can (undrained) of white beans, 1 can of (undrained) green chilis, 3 tbsp of taco seasoning, and 1 can (undrained) of corn. Simmer until liquid has reduced.
As you can tell, these aren’t exactly recipes – more general guides. Get creative and use what you have on hand.
What do you like to make with taco seasoning?
Share your frugal Tex-Mex favorites in the comments below.