Feb 19, 2024

The Best Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

This homemade taco seasoning mix adds a bit of mild heat and a bright flavor to anything from ground beef to chicken breasts or thighs. 
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Once you make this quick and easy spice blend from spices in your pantry, you will never go back to store-bought spice blends. Pre-packaged packets of taco seasoning can often have additives, lots of salt and are often more expensive than purchasing individual spices you can customize to your preferences. Make this seasoning blend in under 5 minutes, then pair with a pound of browned ground beef for an easy taco filling. Check out some of the other things I prefer to make from scratch rather than buying at the store here.

The Best Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Chili powder – The base of this seasoning mix is chili powder, which in itself is actually a spice blend of ground red chilies, cayenne and often paprika. 
  • Cumin – Cumin has a savory but slightly sweet and earthy warming flavor.
  • Cornstarch – A bit of cornstarch helps to bind the seasoning to the meat while thickening the mixture. This is a common ingredient in store-bought spice blends and keeps the mix gluten-free. 
  • Paprika – I like adding smoked paprika to give the spice mix a smokey finish, but regular (sweet) paprika will work as well. Paprika also helps to add the signature deep red color to the spice blend. 
  • Coriander – Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. While cilantro refers to the fresh stems and leaves, coriander is used as a spice and comes from the dried seeds (which in this case are ground). 
  • Garlic powder – Dehydrated and ground garlic has a less pungent flavor than fresh chopped garlic cloves. It rounds out the flavor of the seasoning blend. 
  • Onion powder – Like garlic powder, onion powder is made from dried and dehydrated onions. It adds a big burst of pungent and slightly sweet onion flavor. It can be made from any type of onion depending on the brand so the flavor can vary slightly. (Some also toast the onions before they are turned to powder.) 
  • Salt – One of the reasons I prefer my homemade version of this taco seasoning is that I can control the level of salt added. Many store-bought versions are heavy in salt, listing it as one of the first ingredients. 
  • Cayenne – While chili powder also carries some heat, cayenne powder is used to add spice to the taco seasoning. Cayenne has a Scoville rating of 30,000 to 50,000 SHU, placing the heat in between serrano and Thai bird’s eye chilies. 

How to Make the Best Taco Seasoning

Step 1: Mix the seasoning. 

In a small mixing bowl stir together the chili powder, cumin, cornstarch, paprika, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and cayenne until combined.

Step 2: Use or store the seasoning. 

Set aside until ready to use or store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

How to Use this Taco Seasoning 

For Ground Meat Tacos: 

This taco seasoning mix is a great place to start in getting an easy dinner on the table. Simply brown 1 pound of ground beef (or another ground meat like chicken or turkey for a leaner option) in a pan over medium heat, then drain excess fat and add 2 tablespoons (17g) of the homemade seasoning blend and ¼ cup (60g) of water. Serve on tacos with cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes and sour cream or guacamole.

For Chicken: 

Rub 2 tablespoons (17g) of the seasoning blend over chicken breasts or thighs. Let sit refrigerated for about 30 minutes (or overnight) to develop a deeper flavor or use right away for a quick dinner. Grill or cook the meat in a pan, then let it rest. Slice into strips or chop the meat into pieces and serve in tacos or over your favorite burrito bowl or Mexican-inspired salad. 

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

Swaps and substitutions 
  • If you prefer a spicier blend, I recommend doubling the cayenne. This recipe is for a mild taco seasoning. 
Tips for buying spices 
  • Look at the color. Already ground spices have a shorter shelf life than most think. Take a look at the color before you buy. Bright and vibrant colors indicate a more recent grind.  
  • Spices should be replaced every six months to a year. As I mentioned, many spices have a shorter shelf life than expected. They lose their flavor over time, so keep an eye on their color. This is another reason I like making my own spice blends – I use the spices I buy more quickly. 
  • Store in a cool dry place, as in a drawer or cabinet with little exposure to light so they remain fresh for longer. 
  • Not sure where to buy spices? I like buying my spices online from places like Penzey’s, Burlap & Barrel or Thrive Market. I also shop for spices at Mexican markets where you can often get larger quantities for less. 

Recipes to Enjoy Taco Seasoning With

Enjoy this homemade taco seasoning recipe with these great recipes: 

The Best Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne


  • In a small mixing bowl stir together the chili powder, cumin, cornstarch, paprika, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and cayenne until combined.
  • Set aside until ready to use or store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.



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