Should You Make or Buy Taco Seasoning?
If you believe the jingle, when you drop that familiar yellow packet of taco seasoning into your grocery cart, "you've got it made.” In reality, though, you've got overpriced chili powder.
At approximately $1.59, your average single-use packet of commercial taco seasoning contains chile pepper, salt, maltodextrin (a filler/preservative), "spice,” onion powder, thickeners like cornstarch and yellow corn flour, and a smidge of partially hydrogenated soybean oil and silicon dioxide (an anticaking agent). While the simple ingredients may lend a certain element of childhood nostalgia to taco night, you can do a whole lot better. All it takes is a few minutes and a handful of everyday spices.
Making your own taco seasoning is fun and easy, whether you're making just enough for one meal or a big batch that will last several months.
As a general rule, the seasoning consists of chili powder (or chili powder and cumin) mixed with smaller amounts of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano and red pepper flakes. Start with a tablespoon of chili powder (and the equivalent amount of cumin, if you're a fan), a teaspoon of salt and black pepper, and one-quarter to one-half teaspoons of the remaining ingredients.
The first time you make your own seasoning, it's wise to stick to quarter teaspoons of the secondary spices and adjust as needed. Like your tacos with a kick? Go ahead and add some cayenne or chipotle pepper. If you're making ground-beef tacos and miss the saucy consistency the premade stuff gives, add in a pinch of cornstarch while the meat is cooking.
With its enticing blend of herbs and spices, homemade taco seasoning improves a wide variety of dishes, like scrambled eggs, turkey burgers, avocado toast, veggie skewers, popcorn and black beans (to name a few). Bottom line: Once you've made it from scratch, you'll never go back to the packaged stuff.
Erin Jackson is a food-obsessed writer/photographer in San Diego who probably posts too many photos of her cat on Instagram at @ejeats.
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