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Taco seasoning is a dry seasoning mix of chilis, oregano, cumin, and pepper; it is used to season ground meat or vegetables for taco fillings, stews, stir-fries, and other savory dishes.
Many people shy away from these seasonings due to their high sodium content, but there are brands that offer a lower sodium version.
If you don’t have this spice mix in your pantry or you are trying to consume less sodium, you can use one of the best substitutes for taco seasoning, such as fajita seasoning, chili powder, sriracha hot sauce, and chili-cumin combo, and homemade substitute.
These alternatives can still give you that delicious umami flavor that you’d enjoy from taco seasoning.
What’s In Taco Seasoning?
Taco seasoning contains all the necessary ingredients for spicing tacos; this includes spices like cumin, paprika, garlic, oregano, and onion.
These are combined in powdered form to create the perfect dry seasoning blend with an authentic Mexican flavor; it is a hot, sweet, savory, and slightly salty mixture.
Taco seasoning gets its name from being the specific flavoring for tacos, but it is also widely used in other recipes. Taco seasoning adds the right amount of heat to dishes and offers a quick fix as it is a blend of different spices.
It can be used in liquid recipes and as dry rubs; taco seasoning can also be added to sandwiches, grilled foods, and stir-fry.
Taco seasoning can also be added to marinades and broths and is a great way to infuse an authentic Mexican flavor into your dishes.
It is a very versatile ingredient which means it can be used in an extensive collection of recipes; if you don’t have taco spice mix on hand, here are some substitutes you can use instead.
Best Substitutes For Taco Seasoning
If you run out of taco seasoning or you want to swap it out for an ingredient with less sodium and heat, there are different alternatives you can choose from. Most taco seasoning substitutes are very easy to come by, and you may already have them at home.
1. Homemade Substitute
Taco seasoning is a blend of different ingredients and complex flavors, and you probably have some of these individual spices at home.
So, you can simply make your own homemade version of taco seasoning if you are out of the store-bought version.
Taco seasoning is made by combining cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, red chili powder, and oregano; you can adjust the spices to suit your preference.
You will need one teaspoon of each of these spices, but if you want a little heat kick, you can add two teaspoons of ancho powder or cayenne powder if you want to keep the heat in check.
To intensify the red color of the seasoning, you can also add some tomato powder. You can skip adding salt, but if you don’t, use kosher salt.
2. Chili-Cumin Combo
If you don’t have all the individual ingredients to make taco seasoning, a quick substitute you can use instead is a chili-cumin combo.
Taco seasoning comprises of chili powder and ground cumin in its basest form, so both a mix of those two can serve in place of taco seasoning.
Chili powder itself is made from different spices, including oregano; this makes it a close substitute for taco seasoning.
This spice combo provides both heat and earthiness, which pairs well with most recipes. Add a pinch of salt and garlic powder to this dry spice mix for an extra touch of flavor.
3. Fajita Seasoning
Fajita seasoning was specially created for seasoning fajitas; this makes it an excellent substitute for taco seasoning.
Fajitas are basically grilled meat tacos, so their seasoning shares a similar taste profile as taco seasoning. Fajita seasoning delivers a classic Mexican flavor and can be used in any recipe that calls for taco seasoning.
But keep in mind that fajita seasoning has a sour cirrus hint, so ensure your dish can accommodate its flavor.
4. Sriracha Hot Sauce
If you are making a dish that can accommodate a liquid alternative, you can use sriracha hot sauce as a substitute for taco seasoning. It is hot and spicy and also adds a taste of garlic to your dish.
Sriracha sauce also has a slightly sweet taste and doesn’t contain vinegar; this means it doesn’t add a tangy flavor to your dish.
To make the taste even more similar to a taco seasoning, you can add a dash of cumin and red chili pepper powder.
5. Chili Powder
Chili powder is a common spice added to many homemade taco seasoning alternatives; it usually includes various spices like cumin, oregano, onion powder, and garlic.
It can be used as a standalone taco seasoning substitute due to its rich flavor. Chili powder is easy to find, and you probably already have a sachet or jar of it in your spice rack.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Use Instead Of Taco Seasoning?
Instead of taco seasoning, you can use some other common spices or make a homemade taco seasoning by combining a tablespoon of chili powder, 1tsp of cumin and salt, ½ teaspoon of paprika, and a quarter teaspoon of onion powder, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.
Do You Drain Meat Before Adding Taco Seasoning?
Draining your meat before adding taco seasoning removes the grease and helps to enhance its flavor. This also helps maintain the meat’s high-fat content that keeps it juicy.
What’s The Difference Between Chili Powder And Taco Seasoning?
Taco seasoning contains more cumin than most chili powder. Chili powder, on the other hand, contains more paprika and chili than taco seasoning.