Fajita seasoning is made of a blend of common Mexican spices that includes chili powder, paprika, ground cumin, and garlic powder.
The seasoning blend is a flavorful staple in any spice cabinet, even if you don’t often make fajita or other Mexican dishes. An authentic fajita mix sprinkled into any dish is an instant ingredient to make your dish warm and spicy.
It’s easily available in most groceries, especially in places where Mexican cuisines are popular. A simple homemade fajita mix has the authentic flavors than buying a premixed spice blend from a spice store. A homemade blend gives you the liberty to use handpicked fresh ingredients and control the ratio of each ingredient according to the requirements of your recipe.
What Is Fajita?
A fajita is any stripped grilled meat with peppers and onions that is mostly served on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally refers to skirt steak, a cut of pieces of long and flat beef steak.
It’s a traditional Mexican dish, a popular meat dish that is part of Tex-Mex cuisine. The spice mix used for seasoning fajita is crucial to its flavor and aroma.
The origin of fajita goes back to the time when an undesirable cut of beef steak was fed to Mexican cowboys (vaqueros) as a part of their salary. Originally, fajitas is known as arracheras in Mexico that include a category of meat cuts that also consist of hooves and tripe. In fact, even today skirt steak is the only part that is used to make traditional fajitas.
Fajitas became popular in America when in 1969 a Texan restaurant located in the Rio Grande Valley began to serve it and that was an instant hit with locals from all over Texas.
The delicious flavor of fajita is largely indebted to the marinade used before grilling the steak. Traditionally, a highly citrus fruit was used as part of this marinade that the old vaqueros found to soften the tough skirts. Even today, a blend of acidity and spiciness plays a key role in its flavors.
Ingredients in Fajita Seasoning
A simple fajita seasoning consists of spicy ingredients such as chili powder, paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, and sea salt. Note that you’ll find a few variations of fajita seasoning with additional ingredients like sugar, onion powder, or others. Restaurant-style fajita marinade often includes citrus juice as well, usually lemon/lime juice.
A perfect combination of these ingredients spices up the grilled meat, also it’s a flavorful seasoning that goes well with other dishes like soups, stews, savories, scrambled eggs, and more.
Flavors of Fajita Seasoning
Essentially, it’s hot for chili powder and peppers in it. Paprika adds a smoky sweetness to the dish and makes it appear red in hue. Cumin makes spice more earthy and warm. Garlic powder in this mixture adds a garlicky flavor with caramel undertones. The inclusion of dried oregano makes the mixture earthy with a slight bitterness. As a comparison, Fajita seasoning is slightly milder than taco seasoning.
Uses of Fajita Seasoning
Primarily, this spice mix is intended for a quick and easy way to add traditional seasoning to fajitas. Very often, this seasoning is interchangeably used with taco seasoning for both of them have similar ingredients for most parts.
This spice mix is often put to multiple uses:
- Dry rub for meat
- Combining it with lime juice and olive oil to marinate vegetables and meat
- A common ingredient in black bean soup
- To make dips, sandwich spread, or salad dressing
- Sprinkling it over soups, stews, pizzas, pastry sauce, and more.
How to Make Fajita Seasoning?
Making your own fajita seasoning isn’t a difficult task. In fact, after preparing it for once you’ll probably never ever buy the premixed blend of this seasoning.
All that is requires is gathering the necessary ingredients in the required measure and mixing them together in a bowl. Absolutely nothing complicated in making a simple fajita seasoning.
The advantages of homemade spice blends are many like customization, freshness, using clean and best quality ingredients, and money-saving.
The fajita seasoning recipe consists of common ingredients usually found in every pantry. If you wish to have authentic fajita spice mix, then go ahead and make it yourself. It’s both fun and rewarding. This seasoning can be made in no time if you have all the constituents.
The ingredients listed below are enough to make 2 ½ tablespoons of authentic fajita seasoning:
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin ground
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
Just add all the ingredients into a sufficiently big bowl and mix them well. Use it immediately or store it in an airtight spice jar in your spice rack. Always store the spice mix in a cool dry place at room temperature.
Spices have a long shelf life of up to 3 years if stored properly, however, ground spice mixtures taste best when used immediately or within a few weeks.
Best Fajita Seasoning Substitutes
If you don’t have fajita seasoning and are unable to find it in time, use one of the suitable fajita seasoning substitutes listed below:
1. Taco Seasoning
Taco and fajita are close cousins for most of the ingredients in them are the same. Both these spice mixes are used in traditional Mexican-style dishes and are often used interchangeably. The taste profile of the fajita and taco seasonings is dominated by chili powder, cumin, and oregano. The main difference between taco and fajita spice blends is that citrus juice includes fajita. Use taco seasoning as a 1: 1 substitute for fajita seasoning.
2. Texan Chili Powder
The Texan blend of chili powder with flavors of chili con carne is another good substitute for the fajita spice mix. Chili powder including ground chilies, cumin, and garlic which are also present in the fajita spice mixture. Basically, it renders the same flavor profile as the fajita seasoning except for the tanginess. Using a souring agent like lemon juice can make Texan chili powder taste like fajita seasoning. Use chile powder as a 1:1 substitute for fajita seasoning.
3. Adobo Seasoning
Adobo and fajita seasoning contain similar ingredients and flavor profiles. The only noticeable difference is the garlic flavor that is dominant in adobo seasoning. Use adobo seasoning as a 1:1 replacement for fajita seasoning.
4. Cajun Seasoning
Cajun seasoning, a commonly used spice blend in Louisiana cuisines, is also a manageable alternative to fajita seasoning. The ingredients in Cajun seasoning are also found in fajita seasoning minus the acidic elements. In a pinch, use Cajun seasoning in a 1:1 stand-in ingredient for fajita seasoning.
In conclusion, fajita seasoning is a vibrant blend of Mexican spices like chili powder, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder, vital for authentic fajita flavor. Easily made at home, it allows customization and freshness, enhancing not just fajitas but a variety of dishes with its warm, spicy taste. The seasoning’s origin ties to traditional Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex influences, with its use extending beyond fajitas to marinades, rubs, and even soups.
Homemade versions offer a more authentic experience than store-bought mixes, and in the absence of fajita seasoning, substitutes like taco seasoning, Texan chili powder, adobo, and Cajun seasoning can be used.
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