Ready-made seasoning packets make it extremely easy to create delicious meals, especially on busy days.
Especially for things like curry or tacos which require a whole bunch of spices to make, ready-made spice packets are great to have on hand to cut down the preparation time, and still ensure that your recipes will taste great.
But how much does each packet contain?
How Many Tablespoons Are In A Packet Of Taco Seasoning?
A 1 oz or 28 g package of taco seasoning contains about 3-4 tablespoons of seasoning, depending on the brand.
What is Taco Seasoning Made Of?
Taco seasoning is a savory mix of spices and ingredients that give that spicy, warming, smoky flavor to tacos.
Depending on the brand, the proportion of the specific ingredients and spices used may vary, but almost all of them would likely include a combination of the following: chili powder, cumin, paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Some brands would also have sugar, MSG and anti-caking agents, and can also include other types of preservatives.
Taco seasoning can be used for tacos, burritos, dips, soups, casseroles, chili, pasta, and other Mexican-inspired dishes.
How Much Taco Seasoning Should I Use for A Pound Of Meat?
How much seasoning to use would depend on your personal preference but in general, manufacturers like McCormick and El Paso recommend using one 1 oz packet to flavor 1 pound of meat in their suggested recipes. That means that you will use anywhere from 3-4 tablespoons of taco seasoning for a pound of ground beef.
You can of course adjust this to your liking, adding more or less depending on your preference. My advice is to add less than what is recommended at first, before adding until you reach your desired taste and flavor. It would be much easier to just add more seasoning rather than finding out that you have added way too much.
When Do I Put Taco Seasoning On Meat?
Add taco seasoning to your ground meat after you have cooked your meat and then drained it.
To use store-bought taco seasoning, cook your ground beef or ground meat fully over heat and then drain. Add your packet of taco seasoning, along with a little bit of water, and then simmer over heat for a few minutes to incorporate flavors.
While you can also add taco seasoning to raw beef as you cook it, it is much more advisable to add the seasoning to the beef once it’s fully cooked, before simmering again with the spice mix.
This is because adding it to raw beef will cause some of the flavors from the mix to drain out along with the beef fat.
Simmering the spices with the already-cooked ground beef will retain the spices as much as possible, and ensure that your dish is as flavorful as it can be.
Remember also that how much water you add will determine the consistency of your tacos. If you want a drier and thicker taco, add less water.
Can You Use Taco Seasoning Without Cooking?
Taco seasoning can be used to flavor dishes without cooking. For example, mixing taco seasoning with some sour cream or yogurt makes for an interesting dip or dressing which you can layer with beans, avocado, corn, and cheese for the perfect party dip.
You can also use it as a topping for roasted vegetables or sprinkle it on your baked potatoes.
Other Ways to Use Taco Seasoning
It may be called taco seasoning but it certainly isn’t limited to tacos alone. Taco seasoning, with its distinctive blend of spices, can be used in many dishes aside from just plain tacos.
Below are some ideas.
A taco-inspired salad is a great way to use your packets of taco seasoning. Flavoring cooked ground beef with taco seasoning and mixing it with greens, some cheese, diced tomatoes, and avocados, and then dressing it with a simple cilantro-lime vinaigrette is an awesome way to shake it up a little bit.
You can also opt to replace the ground beef with meatless crumbles for a vegetarian dish, and even use vegan cheese to make it fully plant-based.
2. Fried Rice Bowl
For a quick weeknight meal that can be done in a few minutes, make a beef fried rice bowl using taco seasoning to flavor.
- Cook ground beef in a skillet until done.
- Add taco seasoning and adjust to your taste, simmering with the meat for a few minutes.
- Add cooked beans and corn, and mix to incorporate.
- Add cooked white or brown rice and saute until rice is hot.
- Top with cilantro or parsley or a dollop of sour cream.
You can use other types of meat like cubed chicken or even cubed beef, and can add other vegetables of your choice.
3. Taco Soup
For another simple meal that can be done in less than half an hour, you can make a hearty and flavorful taco soup with your taco seasoning mix as the main flavoring agent.
All it takes is cooking ground beef till it is done, adding tomatoes, garlic, chilis, beans, taco seasoning mix, and broth or water, and then simmering for 15-20 minutes until all the flavors come together.
According to the Pioneer Woman, most taco seasoning packets include cornstarch, which helps it to achieve the right consistency easily.
Taco seasoning can be mixed with some sour cream or yogurt for an easy-to-make dip that’s perfect for just chilling with your favorite show or movie. You can also make it a little fancier by layering it with black beans, avocados, onions, tomatoes, and olives, and topping it with cilantro.
You can also make pizza with your packet of taco seasoning. Flavoring your ground meat with taco seasoning prior to adding on top of your pizza and baking, or adding a little bit to your simmered sauce can give you a boost of taco flavor. Top off with some beans, olives, tomatoes, onions, cheese and if you wish, some lettuce to complete your taco pizza.
6. Flavoring Roasted Stuff or Topping Baked Potatoes
You can also use your taco seasoning as a topping for things like baked potatoes prior to baking, or as a flavoring for things like roasted vegetables or crispy chickpeas prior to roasting. That dose of taco seasoning will elevate the flavor of your vegetables.
7. Marinade or Dry Rub
You can also use taco seasoning as a dry rub for meat like chicken or beef prior to roasting or grilling, or as a marinade. The blend of spices will help flavor your meat, and the cornstarch it typically contains also helps with ensuring a dry and crisp exterior.
How To Know If Taco Seasoning Is Still Good To Use?
Dried spices are considered by the USDA to be a shelf-stable product. This means that, stored properly, they can last you for several years before going bad.
“Going bad” here needs a bit of clarification, as spices do not typically go bad in the same way that meat does or the way dairy products go bad.
Spices and dried seasoning blends do not go bad in that they can make you sick. They go bad in a way that over time, they lose their potency and their flavor is diminished.
This means that while taco seasoning that is several years old will not really make you sick, the flavor of your dish may not be as good as if you were to use freshly bought taco seasoning.
According to Texas A&M University, ground spices will last about 2-3 years, whole spices for about 3-4 years, and seasoning blends like taco seasoning will remain good for about 1-2 years.
If your taco seasoning is within this time period, it is likely still good to use.
That said though, it is also important to check the texture, odor and appearance of your taco seasoning. If anything looks, smells, and feels off, it is best thrown away.
Taco seasoning is pretty easy to buy, reasonably priced, and also quite easy to make. No need to insist on using a packet of taco seasoning if you are unsure of its safety!
Can I Still Use Expired Taco Seasoning?
Using expired taco seasoning is not likely to make you sick, however, depending on how long it has been since the expiration date or how long it has been sitting in your pantry, it will likely have experienced a deterioration in its flavor and potency.
In other words, you can use it but expect that it probably won’t be as good as freshly bought packages.
According to McCormick though, spices that have faded in color or have aged a little bit (but are not super old), are not totally unusable. Sometimes you can revive them by dry toasting them on a pan or blooming them in a little hot oil.
In some cases, these methods will revive the vitality of your spices and allow you to use them again.
Is it Better to Use Store-bought or Homemade Taco Seasoning?
I would say that both have their advantages and disadvantages. Store-bought taco seasoning is a convenient and easy way to make tacos and taco-inspired dishes because you already have the right flavor profile and spice proportions figured out for you.
Homemade taco seasoning, though, allows you to customize the amount of each spice in your mix, so if you prefer one dominant spice over others, you can easily tweak that to suit your needs.
Store-bought taco seasoning, like any processed and packaged food, can contain way more sodium than you would like. This also helps them to last longer.
Homemade taco seasoning allows you to customize the amount of salt in your mix, but it also means that it may not last as long as the commercially packaged ones.
Store-bought taco seasoning can contain ingredients like artificial sweeteners and other chemicals that you don’t necessarily want. Making your own homemade taco seasoning allows you full control of what ingredients go into your own taco seasoning blend.
And lastly, while store-bought taco seasoning might seem like the cheaper choice since you’re only buying packets at a time vs buying several bottles of spices to make your own mix, homemade taco seasoning might be the cheaper choice in the long run, as those spices can last you a while if properly stored.
All in all, it is simply a matter of preference. If you use taco seasoning a lot and like to have control of the flavor profile of your blend, homemade might be a better option for you.
On the other hand, if you use taco seasoning once in a blue moon, or do not have the ability or space to invest in multiple spices, then ready-made, store-bought taco seasoning might be the better choice.
HOMEMADE VS STORE-BOUGHT TACO SEASONING
|Convenient and predictable flavor profile||Flavor depends on the specific spice blend|
|Limited option for customizing flavor||Can customize blend according to taste|
|Can contain more sodium||Can control amount of salt|
|May contain unwanted ingredients||Full control of ingredient list|
|Lasts longer due to preservatives||May not last as long|
|May be more expensive||May be cheaper in the long run|
How Do I Make Homemade Taco Seasoning?
Taco seasoning is not that difficult to make at home. While proportions of ingredients may vary across recipes, they are made up of roughly the same blend of spices which include:
- Chili powder
- Dried Oregano
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Black Pepper
Some blends add chili flakes for added heat, and some use smoked paprika for a more smoky flavor. The beauty of it is that you can tweak how much of each ingredient you want in your very own custom blend.
Here is a simple recipe adapted from McCormick, who also sells ready-mixed taco seasoning.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
(adapted from McCormick)
- 1 ½ tablespoons Sweet Paprika or Smoked Paprika
- 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Sugar (optional)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Corn starch (optional)
In a bowl, mix all of the spices and ingredients. Store them in dry, tightly covered jars.
The good thing about making your own taco seasoning spice blend is that you can increase or decrease the amount of each spice in the recipe, depending on your specific preference. It is fully customizable to your specific taste, and gives you more freedom in flavoring your dish.
Frequently Asked Questions to How Many Tablespoons Are In A Packet of Taco Seasoning?
How Much Taco Seasoning for 10 Pounds of Meat?
If one 1-oz packet is enough to flavor 1 pound of meat, you need about 10 packets to season 10 pounds of meat.
What is in Taco Seasoning?
Different brands have varying ingredients, and homemade recipes would also vary to a degree. However, common seasoning spices include chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, paprika, onion and garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Is it Healthy to Use A Taco Seasoning Mix?
Store-bought taco seasoning mixes offer the convenience of a quick meal, however they may also contain unwanted ingredients and depending on the health status of a person, may be a less-than-ideal choice for a seasoning mix.
Conclusion to How Many Tablespoons Are In A Packet Of Taco Seasoning?
One 1-oz packet of taco seasoning contains on average, 3-4 tablespoons of seasoning mix.
Different brands may vary in amount and portion size but in general, it typically contains 3-4 tablespoons in one package. One packet is enough to flavor 1 pound of meat, although of course, it would also depend on personal preference.