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!)

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. Drain extra fat from the meat.
  4. Add 1 cup very warm water to the seasoning mix and stir or whisk well so there are no lumps.
  5. Pour the seasoning mix into the browned meat and mix well. The meat should just all be coated with seasoning.
  6. 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.