I dislike taco seasoning packets. I abandoned the mainstream grocery store brands years and years ago after discovering they seemed to cause undo flatulence in some members of the house. Then I found Trader Joe’s brand, but it’s way too fake-tasting and spicy. Simply Organic has a Southwest Taco I’ve used a few times, but maltodextrin, a thickener and sweetener, is the second ingredient, and salt is the fourth. I don’t think maltodextrin and salt should be the top 50% of flavoring ingredients in anything.
Then there’s waste. Each packet is a non-recyclable plastic-based envelope that can’t even be reused. There had to be a better way.
So I started experimenting with my own seasonings, a very hit-and-miss project involving overly aniseed, garlicked, peppered, and floured variations we could not always eat. But I finally got it, abandoning the fresh vegetables and herbs and going straight for my woefully underused spice shelf. And it’s great! Here it is – my foolproof recipe for taco seasoning. Nice tang, subtle heat, and gluten-free to boot.
Taco seasoning (without a packet!)
- Brown 2 lbs ground beef in a large skillet. (feel free to substitute 2 lbs of any ground meat, cubed potatoes or tofu, or cooked beans or rice)
- While the meat is browning, mix together in small bowl:
2 tbsp chili powder (ancho chili powder is a nice substitute)
2 tsp paprika (smoked paprika adds a different flavor)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup masa harina
Stir them together.
- Drain extra fat from the meat.
- Add 1 cup very warm water to the seasoning mix and stir or whisk well so there are no lumps.
- Pour the seasoning mix into the browned meat and mix well. The meat should just all be coated with seasoning.
- Pour another cup of water into the meat. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
The masa acts as a thickener and gives a nice tortilla taste to the mixture. All that’s left is to grate a little jack cheese, shred some lettuce, heat a can of refried beans, and steam a handful of Mi Abuelita Corn Tortillas. Grab some salsa and sour cream for the table and your family is ready to nom nom nom.