Skip to Content

Substitute for Taco Seasoning

Hardly would you think about classic Mexican spice mixed without considering taco seasoning. It’s a fantastic blend of flavors that enhance the taste experience of tacos and many other savory dishes. But what happens when you need some but can’t find any in the spice rack? Well, if you have time, you can quickly make homemade taco seasoning from scratch. Your copycat taco seasoning will blend perfectly in every recipe, including ground beef, meat, chicken, burritos, and many other recipes. Plus, you can even control how much heat it has by making your homemade taco seasoning mild.

But what if you don’t have all the ingredients and are in dire need of a taco seasoning sachet? Well, there’s a solution for that too. You’d be surprised to find lots of helpful spices in your rack that qualify as excellent substitutes for taco seasoning; even your typical fajita seasoning will do the trick.

What’s in Taco Seasoning?

Taco seasoning was initially created to deliver all the necessary ingredients for spicing tacos in a convenient sachet. It contains various spices, with the most common being cumin, paprika, garlic, oregano, and onion. All these are combined in powdered form to give you the perfect blend of dry seasoning. And its flavor stays true to its Mexican roots, exhibiting a hot, sweet, savory, and slightly salty mixture.

Taco Seasoning Other Uses

Though the name indicated it’s made for flavoring tacos, taco seasoning is also widely included in other recipes. It’s a splendid way to add heat to dishes and offers a quick fix when you need to blend different spices. It works in both liquid recipes and dry rubs, and you can also add it to sandwiches, grilled foods, and stir-fry. Taco seasoning is also a welcome addition to marinades and broths and is an excellent option for times when you wish to infuse that classic Mexican authenticity to your dishes. And because it’s so versatile, you can find it in an extensive collection of recipes, among which include;

  • Enchiladas
  • Fajitas
  • Tortillas
  • Turkey chili
  • Pasta
  • Burgers
  • Salsa
  • Chicken Pronto
  • Pizza
  • Casserole
  • Sweet Corn and Zucchini
  • Burritos
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Sauces
  • Tex-Mex Rice bowl
  • Pepper Chicken
  • Dips
  • Stuffing
  • Tostadas
  • Jalapeno Chicken
  • Pies
  • Mexican Lasagne
  • Dorito recipes

Taco Seasoning Substitutes

Of course, we consider a substitute for taco seasoning in most situations because we’ve run out. But other times, we may want to influence the heat level; while some wish it to be hotter, others like it toned down. And in certain times, we want to play around with the base ingredients by adding something else to see how the flavor comes out. Whatever the reason, you can pick up any of these handy alternatives in place of taco seasoning. And what’s more, most of them are very easy to come by; you may already have them at home.

Homemade Substitute

Though taco seasoning carries a complex blend of flavors, its ingredients are mostly stuff you know. So, if you have them at home at a time when you’ve exhausted your supply, you can make some yourself. The base ingredients are cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, red chili powder, and oregano, but you can still combine others to the mix to suit your preference. All these spices are mixed at one teaspoon each, but if you want to boost the heat level, add two teaspoons of ancho powder, or cayenne powder for less heat, in place of chili. You can also add some tomato powder to mimic the redness of the authentic seasoning as well. Some brands also include salt, so if you’d like to add that as well, we recommend kosher.

Chili-Cumin Combo

Lawry's Chili, Cumin & Garlic Santa Fe Style Seasoning


At times, you wish to make a quick substitute for taco seasoning but don’t have all the ingredients around. And running to the grocery store to grab a few sachets may seem like a drag. But remember that taco seasoning comprises chili powder and ground cumin in its basest form, so why not mix those up instead? Chili powder itself combines numerous spices, including oregano, so it offers a close resemblance with taco seasoning. And with this spice combo, you get both heat and earthiness in the mix, which works for most recipes that call for it. Add a dash of salt and garlic powder to this dry spice mix, and you’ll get an extra burst of flavor. Plus, the garlic brings out a bit of familiarity that’s synonymous with the original seasoning.

Fajita Seasoning


Fajita seasoning was initially prepared to season fajitas, making it an excellent substitute for taco seasoning. And since fajitas are grilled meat tacos, the seasoning quickly copies the same taste profile as the original stuff. Fajita seasoning is also a classic Mexican flavor, so it works for recipes that call for taco seasoning. But when using fajita seasoning, take note of its sour cirrus hint and be sure it’s a flavor you can accommodate in your dish.

Sriracha Hot Sauce

Fix Hot Sauce, Sriracha Hot Sauce


If you don’t mind substituting a liquid alternative for taco seasoning, use hot sriracha sauce. It’s not only hot and spicy but also contributes a taste of garlic to your recipe. Sriracha sauce is also slightly sweet and doesn’t contain vinegar, so you don’t have to worry about adding tang to your dish. And if you add a dash of cumin and red chili pepper powder, you’ll build the taste to something closer to the taco seasoning.

Chili Powder


McCormick Dark Chili Powder


Chili powder is already a familiar addition to many homemade taco seasoning substitutes, and for a good reason. You’ll find various spices, including cumin, oregano, onion powder, and garlic, in its mix. It’s also an excellent standalone substitute for taco seasoning and is rich in flavor, so you’re sure to get a suitable replacement. And it’s easy to come by; you stand a high chance of having a sachet or jar of it in your spice rack.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use instead of taco seasoning?

You can make a balanced homemade taco seasoning right there in your kitchen with some common spices. Mix a tablespoon of chili powder with a teaspoon of cumin and salt, half teaspoon of paprika, and a quarter teaspoon of onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and oregano,

Do you drain meat before adding taco seasoning?

You should because drain the grease from the meat helps enhance the flavor. Plus, the high-fat content of the meat keeps it juicy.

What’s the difference between chili powder and taco seasoning?

Taco seasoning has more cumin than brands of chili seasoning that do. Also, chili seasoning comprised more paprika and chili powder than taco seasoning does.


With any of these handy alternatives, you never have to worry about missing taco seasoning. You can still retain that classic traditional Mexican and Tejulo flavors in your recipes if you use these substitutes in place of taco seasoning.

Subscribe to Blog Chef for the easiest recipes and cooking tips. Signing up gives your consent to emails and personalized ads. See privacy policy.