Low Sodium Taco Seasoning is easy to make at home, allowing you control over the sodium and resulting flavor that you can’t get with pre-made packets.
I’ve been known to reach for those pre-made taco seasoning packets in a pinch. They are convenient, no doubt, but they also contain a lot of ingredients many of us could do without (or less of). Like sodium. One packet of Old El Paso taco seasoning contains 300 mg of sodium.
Old El Paso taco seasoning also contains the following ingredients (in a 1-ounce packet):
- Chili Pepper, Corn Starch, Salt, Onion Powder, Maltodextrin, Spice, Sea Salt (Potassium Magnesium Chloride, Salt). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Vegetable Oil (Canola And/Or Soybean Oil), Corn Flour, Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking Agent), Citric Acid, Sugar, Natural Flavor.
I don’t know about you, but I have an extensive spice collection and maltodextrin and potassium magnesium chloride are not included.
Knowing what’s in your seasoning is an obvious reason to make your own homemade taco seasoning - especially if you need to watch your sodium intake or want to eat cleaner. The other perk is getting to adjust the seasoning to suit your tastes.
This Low Sodium Taco Seasoning is pretty straightforward and contains the usual suspects - ancho chili powder, onion powder, cumin, etc. Personally, I prefer to add cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes to keep the consistency of the resulting seasoning granular, but you can certainly grind up red pepper flakes for a similar effect.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist but did research and carefully choose the ingredients in this recipe to keep it low in sodium.
To make this Low Sodium Taco Seasoning recipe you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano (or 1 ¾ teaspoon flakes)
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or pinch)
Note: Please note that this recipe calls for ground oregano. If you don’t have it on hand, grind it up before measuring. It takes approximately 1 ¾ teaspoons oregano flakes to equal 1 teaspoon ground oregano.
A Note on Chili Powder
You may be wondering why chili powder isn’t an ingredient in this taco seasoning recipe. Chili powder can have sodium hiding in it - I was surprised to learn this! Some brands include salt and some don’t. Further, chili powder typically includes other ingredients, like cumin, garlic powder, etc., among other ingredients. Take this McCormick chili powder: it contains chili pepper, “spices”, salt, silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent), and garlic.
When it comes to chili powder, make sure to check those labels!
Use measuring spoons to measure out exact spice amounts.
Add each spice to a lidded container and shake to combine them.
This recipe makes ~6 tablespoons of seasoning. Feel free to double or triple the recipe. As a general rule, 2-3 tablespoons of taco seasoning will season 1 pound of protein; so this recipe can season 2-3 pounds of protein.
I provide a range here because personal taste preferences vary.
How Much Taco Seasoning Is In a Packet?
Let’s say that you come across a recipe that calls for one packet of taco seasoning; how much homemade taco mix should you use in its place? Brands may differ, but a 1-ounce packet Old El Paso taco seasoning contains approximately 2 tablespoons of seasoning. I recommend using 2-3 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning for every packet a recipe calls for.
Here are a few recommended subs you can make to this Low Sodium Taco Seasoning.
Ancho chili powder - You can also swap in chipotle chili powder in equal measure. Chipotle powder chili powder contains dried and smoked jalapeno peppers that have been ground into a powder. It’s smokier and spicier than ancho chili powder, so you may want to use less or leave the cayenne pepper out.
Note: I don’t recommend using chili powder here since it may contain salt, among other ingredients. Not knowing the ratio of the other ingredients can throw off the balance of the resulting mix.
Paprika - Go ahead and use smoked paprika or hot Hungarian paprika in equal measure.
Cayenne pepper - You can leave this out entirely if you’d prefer, or swap in red pepper flakes instead. I’d recommend grinding the red pepper flakes though so you have a uniform seasoning mix.
Oregano - go ahead and use Mexican oregano! This recipe calls for grinding the oregano up first before measuring, so keep that in mind.
Low Sodium doesn’t have to mean Low Flavor
I LOVE salt. Like I am a salt fiend. Know that in making this Low Sodium Taco Seasoning recipe I considered how best to make it still taste good in the absence of salt. One of the best ways to bolster flavor in the absence of salt is to pump up bold flavors, like garlic and onion powder. This is why the onion powder and garlic powder are heavier handed in this recipe than other low sodium ones you may come across.
You can also try finishing your taco-seasoned dish with acid - by adding a squirt or two of lemon or lime juice. Or try finishing with a splash or two of apple cider vinegar. Acid acts similarly to salt in that it brings out the flavors of a dish.
If you’ve just gotta have that salty, umami flavor to make this recipe a WIN, reach for some nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is sort of like Parmesan cheese, but it’s not cheese at all. It’s gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and gives everything an instant umami flavor boost, sans sodium. Add a teaspoon or two to this recipe to really up the flavor.
What is the difference between chili powder and ancho chile powder?
Ancho chile powder contains one ingredient - specifically dried poblanos. These dried poblanos are then ground up to make ancho chili powder. Spice-wise, it’s only slightly spicier than regular chili powder (though chili powders can vary in heat).
Chili powder is typically a spice blend consisting of various ground spices like ground chiles, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and/or cayenne pepper. Chili powders can vary widely in ingredients, and how much of each is used.
For simplicity's sake - and to make sure no additional salt is added in this recipe - it’s best to pass on the chili powder in this Low Sodium Taco Seasoning recipe.
I highly recommend these measuring spoons, they are my favorite!
Stainless steel measuring spoons (pictured).
Store your Low Sodium Taco Seasoning in a lidded container in a cool, dark place - like a cabinet or drawer. I like to store homemade taco seasoning in little mason jars, as pictured. Or, reuse spice bottles from store-purchased seasonings.
For best results, use within 6 months.
If you’ve just gotta have that salty, umami flavor to make this recipe a WIN, reach for some nutritional yeast. Add a teaspoon or two to this recipe to really up the flavor.
Low Sodium Taco Seasoning
- Use measuring spoons to measure out exact spice amounts.
- Add each spice to a lidded container and shake to combine them.