How to Make Your Own Frugal Taco Seasoning (and Some Yummy Stuff to Make with It)

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. “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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.


Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

9 thoughts on “How to Make Your Own Frugal Taco Seasoning (and Some Yummy Stuff to Make with It)”

  1. I have also found that if you add Lemon Pepper to the mix it makes it taste even better! This makes a great Taco and Fajita mix!

  2. Another money saving tip that’s related to this! If at all possible, buy your spices in the little plastic bags that hang on a rack in the grocery store. If you have a Food City near you, they have those for roughly fifty cents a bag, but even at the most expensive store they won’t be more than a dollar or so. You can then refill your old spice containers and make mixes like this with them. I make all my pumpkin pie spice this way and can fill a far with a nice mix for the same cost as a half ounce of McCormick brand.

  3. “10 tbsp of chili powder”… that powdered chili, or the common chili seasoning powder (i.e. not pure chili, but a blend of seasonings)? Thanks. Great idea.

  4. We make a similar seasoning but less cumin. A matter of preference. Sometimes I add crushed cirriander seed to go with red chili powder.. not chili blend. I also like a smokey paprika to enhance the color and flavor. I saw the cacti pad in the picture. We use those here also. A yong pad with the stickers burned off then let it cook till tender on a bbq then lay the pad on a hamburger patty. It’s tasty.
    I also use a tablespoon of the seasoning with oil and vinegar and a bit of tomato juice as a salad dressing with drained red kidney beans, diced onion, diced green peppers, corn chips and grated cheese. Lettuce
    bed optional. Add some browned growned beef and make it a meal.

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