When I first started my clean eating journey many years ago, one of the best things I ever did was clean out my pantry. I took out everything and carefully read the ingredients on each product. If I didn’t know what an ingredient was or how it could affect my body, I got rid of it… and never looked back!
This helped me learn so much about the processed products that I was buying all the time that I thought I couldn’t live without… like those little packets of Old El Paso Taco Seasoning which are filled with questionable ingredients. Who knew that it’s actually cheaper (and super easy) to mix up my own taco seasoning at home with just a handful of spices that are easy to keep on hand?
Plus, homemade tacos taste wayyy better when they aren’t corrupted with all those nasty ingredients found in packets like de-caking agents, refined oils, and flavor enhancers designed in a lab…
“No MSG”???… Not so fast Ortega!
Ortega slaps a big “No MSG Added” label on the front of their taco seasoning, but if you check the ingredient list you’ll find that it contains “Yeast Extract”. This ingredient contains free glutamic acid – the main component of MSG. Food companies don’t want to get a bad rap by putting monosodium glutamate (MSG) on their ingredient list, so they use ingredients like Yeast Extract to secretly add this potent flavor enhancer to your food right under our noses. What a sneaky trick!
What REALLY makes these seasoning mixes taste like tacos?
Ortega doesn’t tell you what “spices” they use besides paprika and garlic powder, so you’ve got to wonder how much of their seasoning is just synthetically flavored to taste like tacos without using actual spices (which are nutrient-dense real food). It’s more expensive for food companies to use real spices than it is to use “natural flavor” and flavor enhancers which mimic the taste of real food. It’s no wonder they take the cheapest option.
Taco Bell’s seasoning found in grocery stores is actually made by Kraft.
Kraft is one food brand notorious for using cheap additives to save on their bottom line, at the expense of our health. That’s why it’s no surprise that their taco seasoning is spiked with Yeast Extract (hidden MSG) and Malic Acid (an artificial flavor enhancer and preservative created in lab from petrochemicals like butane).
Compare these ingredients to my homemade version!
I make homemade taco seasoning with 6 basic spices that I keep stocked in my pantry + sea salt and pepper. When you compare the ingredients in my homemade taco seasoning side-by-side with the ingredients in those processed packets, you really see the difference!
Always buy organic spices – not only will they not have toxic pesticides, but they also will not be irradiated.
Virtually all conventional spices sold in the U.S. are fumigated [sterilized] with hazardous chemicals that are banned in Europe and irradiated to kill bacteria. These practices leave a finished product with decreased levels of vitamins and natural enzymes. Irradiation changes the chemical composition of a spice, potentially creating toxic, carcinogenic by-products in the food and increasing our exposure to free radicals. Free radicals cause aging and disease – something we want to avoid at all costs!
Organic spices are not irradiated and cannot have genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), artificial colors, preservatives, and other synthetic anti-caking agents. Some of my favorite spice companies include – Simply Organic, Frontier, and various store-brands that are organic.
It can be a little expensive at first if you are stocking your organic spice rack from scratch, but once you’ve get all the essentials, it’s incredibly inexpensive to make your own taco seasoning and other spice mixes. One of my tricks for saving money on organic spices is to buy them from the bulk bins at health food stores and natural food stores. You can buy just the amount you need or refill your own jars at home at a fraction of the cost.
Find the printable recipe below with the exact measurements I use to make taco seasoning.
You can easily double or triple the recipe if you’d like to make a bigger batch of tacos, or save it in a glass jar for later. To make tacos, simply use 3 tablespoons of seasoning mix per 1 pound of meat. I’ve used this with both ground turkey and chicken and it is fabulous!
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of seasoning into 1 pound of cooked ground beef, turkey, or chicken breasts.
- Add a bit of water to the pan so the flavor really imparts itself into the meat.
- Simmer for at least 5-10 minutes.
Add red pepper flakes if you'd like spicier tacos.
You can double or triple the recipe if you'd like to make a bigger batch or store it for later use.
Are there any other seasoning packets you buy which you’d love to replace with a homemade recipe? Let me know in the comments below!
Please share this recipe to save your loved ones from taco seasoning packets full of questionable ingredients. It’s worth the few extra minutes it takes to stir together yourself. Don’t you agree?
P.S. When you’re making tacos, make sure you don’t buy tortillas full of processed ingredients. Ultimately, I love to make homemade organic tortillas at home (you’ll find my recipes inside Food Babe Kitchen!) When I don’t make my own, Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas are my go-to brand. These tortillas are more nutritious than most brands because all of the grains are 100% sprouted whole and not processed into flour.