If you're tired of taco seasoning packets with hard-to-pronounce ingredients, try this Gourmet Low Sodium Taco Seasoning recipe. This low (or no) sodium spice blend contains no preservatives, fillers, or additives, just natural, high-quality ingredients. It's perfect for your ground meat tacos, but don't limit its use to just tacos! You'll find more ideas below!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About DIY Spice Blends
At the risk of "beating a dead horse" with warnings about shelf stable food products like salad dressings, and spice blends like tajín and Mexican mole spice blend, let me reiterate the importance of reading labels and recognizing unhealthy fats, shelf-stabilizing chemicals, excess sugar and sodium, etc.
Have you ever relied on that little foil packet of taco seasoning mix for a quick #TacoTuesday supper? You stir it into browned ground meat, and fill tortilla "shells" with pre-shredded lettuce and cheese and a store-bought salsa? These quick tacos get the job done, but they're really not very healthy or nutritious.
With a few minutes invested in making this low-sodium taco seasoning, and making a few minor changes in your tacos, you will enjoy tastier, healthier tacos. Swap out the foil packet for this homemade version, shred cabbage instead of iceberg lettuce, and consider using soft corn tortillas instead of taco shells. You can still top them with your favorite salsa and cheese or avocado!
Why should I make homemade taco seasoning?
Most Mexican commercial spices and seasonings blends contain corn meal, whey and/or cornstarch. The sodium content is likely very high, and it may contain unhealthy fats, and anticaking agents. Take a look at the ingredients from these popular brands:
Old El Paso Mild Taco Seasoning: Maltodextrin, Corn Starch, Salt, Chili Pepper, Sugar. Contains 2% or less of: Spice, Vegetable Oil (canola and/or soybean oil), Onion Powder, Silicon Dioxide (anticaking agent), Garlic Powder, Natural Flavor.
Lawry's Ingredients: Spices (Including Paprika, Cumin, Oregano, Chili Pepper), Onion, Salt, Lactose (Milk), Sugar, Garlic, Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Cocoa Powder Processed with Alkali and Natural Flavor.
Taco Bell Original Taco Seasoning: Wheat flour, salt, dried garlic, chili peppers, maltodextrin, spice, dried onion, paprika, sugar, less than 2% of silicone dioxide (as anticaking agent), natural flavor, yeast extract, soybean oil, malic acid.
Ortega Taco Seasoning: Yellow Corn Flour, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Citric Acid, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavors, Silicon Dioxide.
🧂 Why Make Homemade Taco Seasoning?
- Seasoning mixes are quick and easy to make.
- You can avoid additives, preservatives, and excess sodium.
- You control the ingredients and personalize the flavors to your taste and preference.
- Your taco seasoning will be flavorful for up to year if properly stored.
When you want to use some, start with a teaspoon or two and work your way up. A good rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons to 1 pound of ground meat. I often use a couple tablespoons when I use it for a dry rub on roast or fish. Sometimes I mix it with olive oil and smear it on chicken before roasting or grilling.
🌮 Ways to Use Taco Seasoning
- with ground chicken, turkey, pork, or beef in tacos or a taco salad
- combine with olive oil and smear on a chicken, pork, or fish before roasting or grilling
- as a dry rub for grilling or smoking
- to season popcorn!
- combine with olive oil and chickpeas before roasting
- add to bean dip or queso
- to season fajitas
- to season Mexican-style casseroles, skillets, and bakes
- to flavor a tortilla soup or albondigas soup
- to flavor salad dressings or vinaigrettes
📋 Low Sodium Taco Seasoning Ingredients
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- dehydrated onion - I like dehydrated minced onion because it's all natural - no preservatives, fillers, or additives - and it has more onion flavor than granulated. Granulated onion is 3 times more potent than dehydrated minced onion, so substitute 2 teaspoons granulated if you need to substitute.
- ground cumin
- ground coriander
- ancho chile powder - New Mexico red chile powder or guajillo powder are good substitutions. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE generic chili powder. It's a spice blend (that may include sodium!), and will mess with the proportions.
- chipotle chile powder - Chipotle powder is made from smoked jalapeños, so it lends a smoky flavor to the taco seasoning. If you need to substitute, you can add additional smoked paprika (especially if you like it milder), or you can choose one of the red chile powders above.
- smoked paprika - Smoked paprika comes in mild and hot. It also adds smoky flavor to the spice blend. There really isn't a good substitute, but sweet paprika will do in a pinch.
- dehydrated garlic - Like with the dehydrated onion, I like the flavor of the dehydrated garlic better. If you need to substitute granulated garlic, use ⅓ of the amount.
- Mexican oregano - I really like the complexity the Mexican oregano adds to the taco seasoning. Mediterranean oregano is not a good substitute. If you omit it, you will still have a delicious taco seasoning!
- sea salt - Using a good sea salt is important if you want "gourmet." Salt quality does make a difference. I have a Himalayan pink grinder, and I grind my salt before I put this together. Of course this is not a requirement! Himalayan pink salt is technically a "sea" salt, and it contains more trace minerals than regular sea salt, and is actually lower in sodium content. It is less refined, and more pure. See Sea Salt Vs Himalayan Pink Salt for more information.
- pepper - Fresh ground pepper is highly recommended, but definitely optional!
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- Measure ingredients - Measure all ingredients and add to an appropriately sized mixing bowl.
- Combine - Stir thoroughly to combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark space for up to 1 year. NOTE: A funnel is helpful for this task!
How should I store my taco seasoning?
The best way to store your spices and seasoning blends is to keep them in an air-tight container or bag in a cool, dry, and dark place (less than 70°). Keeping them away from light prevents their color from fading. An air-tight container will decreases the effects of moisture and oxidation on your spices, and since spices are photosensitive, keeping them in a dark cupboard, drawer, or pantry will preserve their vibrancy longer.
How long will my taco seasoning last?
While ground spices are usable well beyond 1 year, their flavor and vibrancy degrade over time. I recommend making smaller batches and making a new batch as needed to ensure maximum potency.
How much should I use?
I recommend about 2 tablespoons to a pound of meat, poultry, fish, or veggies. I used 2 tablespoons recently on a pound of oyster mushrooms, along with a tablespoon of miso to boost the umami, for oyster mushroom tacos.
Do not keep spice blends in the freezer! The condensation that occurs in taking the spice mix in and out of the freezer every time you use it will increase the moisture level in your spices; it may spoil and turn moldy.
I would consider this taco seasoning recipe to be "mild." If you want to bump up the heat, increase either the ancho or the chipotle powder (or both). If you have littles, and want it even milder, reduce the ancho or chipotle powder.
Make this taco seasoning "no sodium" by omitting the sea salt!
I keep mason jars, chalkboard stickers, and a chalk marker on hand for my spice mixes. I like to put the round stickers on the lid, and line them up in a dedicated spice drawer.
Easy Gourmet Taco Seasoning Recipe
- 2 tablespoons dehydrated onion
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
- 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika - hot or mild
- 2 teaspoons dehydrated garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Thoroughly combine all ingredients.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
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