Taco Seasoning Substitute – Here Are 5 Options To Consider

Everyone would love to enjoy a casserole with taco seasoning. Don’t use a whole packet of it in a casual dinner; keep a few on hand to relish it again when the cravings are at work. Don’t miss out on shredded chicken roasted with onions, green chilies, and a packet of taco seasoning.

What to do when you don’t have taco seasoning at hand? What can you use instead of taco seasoning? This article examines the best taco seasoning substitute you can use in a pinch, also a little about its uses and flavor profile.

What is Taco Seasoning?

Taco seasoning is a blend of dry spices that include chilies, cumin, oregano, and pepper. Generally, the seasoning mixed with ground meat or vegetables is used as fillings for tacos and other savory dishes.

It’s a quintessential spice blend for a taco. Its roots go back to traditional Mexican cooking but are currently popular across the world. If you are a fiery food fan then this spice blend is a must-have ingredient in your pantry.

In every possibility, you can easily buy taco seasoning blends from any good groceries, or online vendors. If not available, finding a simple substitute for taco seasoning is not a difficult thing.

What does taco seasoning taste like?

The taste of taco seasoning can slightly vary according to the customized blends sold by different brands. At the forefront, the earthy and herbal notes of oregano and cumin stay dominant. The heat of chilies and pepper form the background notes. Overall it renders a spicy pungent kick to tacos and other dishes.

Essentially, taco and chili seasonings are quite the same, with minor differences in ingredients and flavor.

How to use taco seasoning in cooking?

A taco is a traditional Mexican dish consisting of small hand-sized corn or wheat tortilla topped with a filling. Obviously, the delicious taste and aroma of a taco are immensely relying upon the taco seasoning used in it.

Besides taco casseroles, this seasoning is used in chicken, bacon, and vegetable dishes. You can use it in burgers, michelada, vegan party dips, barbecues, and more.

Taco is a versatile seasoning blend that can help you prepare quick and easy weekday meals. This blend is a suitable substitute for different chili seasonings.

What is a good substitute for taco seasoning?

The authentic taste of taco heavily depends on the genuine taco seasoning used in them. There won’t be any difficulty in finding this seasoning in the US and Mexico. In case, you don’t have it or just run out of it, finding a simple substitute for this spice blend is easy. Choose one of the following alternatives:

1. Homemade Taco Seasoning

When you don’t have pre-mixed taco seasoning, it’s easy to whip up your own seasoning mixture.


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients, after blending them, transfer them into an airtight container for storing. Use about 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning for every 1 pound of meat.

Modify the ingredients according to your recipe or your taste preferences.  Most brands of taco seasoning also contain tomato powder for the sake of adding acidity and rendering a red color to meat recipes. You may use tomato powder or paste if needed in your taco recipe.

2. Chili Powder

Chili powder is a mixture of hot spices that originated in Texas invented by a Texan name Willi Gebhardt, in the early part of the 19th century. It’s a lot similar to taco seasoning in composition and utilized for recreating the flavors of traditional Mexican spice mixes.

The core ingredients in chili powder are cumin, oregano along with a base of dried and ground chili peppers. A home cook can customize chili powder with additional ingredients according to the need of the recipe.

Chili powder is a wonderful substitute for taco seasoning for they contain similar ingredients.

3. Fajita Seasoning

Fajitas are tacos filled with grilled meat instead of braised ground meat used in taco filling. Fajita seasoning is a popularly used spice mix used for adding traditional flavor to Tex-Mex foods.

Most ingredients in Fajita seasoning are the same as those used in Taco seasoning. The core ingredients in this seasoning are cumin and chili peppers, thus a good substitution for taco seasoning.

Fajita seasoning has an acidic ingredient that gives a sour citrus flavor to Fajita like tomato powder used in some blends of taco seasoning. Citric acid is the most commonly used ingredient for citrusy flavor.

The citrusy flavor for Fajita seasoning won’t be an issue in most taco recipes. Note, acidification of some ingredients in taco may not be good in some cases.

4. Sriracha

Sriracha is a hot sauce, a manageable taco seasoning substitute in a pinch. This sauce has heat and flavor similar to taco seasoning with a wonderful garlic note. In fact, your taco would taste great with a slightly sweet, spicy, and garlicky taste of Sriracha sauce. Adding a little chili powder and ground cumin to Sriracha sauce is another brilliant idea to make it taste like taco seasoning.

5.  Chili Pepper and Cumin

If you don’t have all the necessary ingredients to make taco seasoning, you can still save your taco with a mixture of ground chili pepper and cumin alone. This mixture is just sufficient to render heat and earthiness to your taco, two dominant flavors of a standard taco seasoning.

The Bottom Line

Certainly, it’s easy to use a store-bought taco seasoning for a taco. When you have run out of pre-made seasoning, with the available spices you can make a spice mix as a substitute for taco seasoning. Chili powder or Fajita seasoning is also a workable replacement for taco seasoning.