Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Like my last post about stromboli, this recipe isn’t one that came from either of my grandmas. But, it’s something I must have in my kitchen at all times. I just assembled a big batch and thought I’d share the recipe here.

And yes, it probably is easier to just buy a packet of the stuff from the grocery store, but what’s the fun in  THAT? I use a LOT of taco seasoning – not only to add flavor to the ground beef we stuff into taco shells or flour tortillas, but also for tortilla soup, taco soup, enchilada casseroles, black beans – you name it. You already know I like to buy my spices in bulk from Penzey’s, and this recipe is just the excuse I need to buy their fresh, high-quality chili powder, paprika, cumin, etc. in bags.  And, while I’m lucky to live close to a retail store, you can mail order from their catalog, too.  See what my freezer door looks like because of how close I live to Penzey’s?

Anyway. This recipe makes about a cup and a half of seasoning. Which seems like a lot, but really it isn’t. To season a pound of ground beef, you add two heaping tablespoons to the browned, drained beef, plus 1/2 – 3/4 cup of water. Or you can add more or less of each, depending on your taste. That’s the beauty of making your own – you can adjust it to suit the needs of the people for whom you cook. Or yourself. Or both.

I’ve adapted this from other recipes I’ve seen floating around, so I feel safe in calling this


Make this right in an airtight container that holds at least 16 ounces. Use a Mason jar or something plastic. Or, a zip-top plastic freezer bag.  All measurements are suggestions; adjust to your taste.

6 Tablespoons chili powder

5 Tablespoons paprika

4.5 Tablespoons cumin

2.5 Tablespoons onion powder

2.5 Tablespoons garlic powder

2 Tablespoons corn starch

1 Tablespoon oregano

1/2 Tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon (are you paying attention? Not Tablespoon Teaspoon!) cayenne pepper

Combine all and store in an airtight container.

…Alternatively, layer spices into a 2 pint Ball jar and go “ooooh, cool, pretty, spices, in layers, now where is my camera…”

Use 2 heaping Tablespoons of mix + 1/2 – 3/4 cup water to turn browned ground beef into taco filling.




This isn’t a grandma recipe. But it is something that I make often, and I first started making it based on a recipe card my Aunt Cathy tucked into a recipe box I received at my bridal shower one hundred 19 years ago. Anyway, my neighbor called me from the grocery store yesterday, asking what she should buy in order to make the stromboli she’d had at my house recently, and that made me think this one’s worth sharing.

(I don’t have photos now – but next time I make this I’ll add them.)

First, you need dough. The easiest thing is to buy a fresh one at your grocery store. 99 cents at Trader Joe’s! Second easiest is to keep those frozen bread doughs in your freezer – but then you have to remember to get it out and thaw it, like, weeks  days many hours in advance, and honestly, who has time for that? When I want stromboli I WANT IT NOW.

Your third option is to make your own. The lowest-impact method would be to remember 2.5 hours before dinnertime to throw the ingredients into your bread machine and run the dough cycle. Again, I’m no master of forethought, so…

I usually end up making my own. I base mine on the BH&G New Cookbook’s (and yes, that book was a bridal shower gift too) pizza recipe.  You know the one – with the red plaid cover. Anyway, here’s how I do it:

In a bowl, put 1.25 cups AP flour, 1 package active dry yeast (about 2.5 tsp from a jar) and 1/4 tsp salt. Add 1 cup warm water and 2 Tbsp cooking oil. With electric mixer, beat 30 seconds on low, then scrape bowl, then 3 minutes on high speed. Or two – I never time myself. Till you’re bored. Then, with a wooden spoon, stir in as much of 1.5 – 2 cups more flour, then turn the whole blob out onto a floured work surface and knead in the rest. 6-8 minutes of kneading, till the dough is moderately stiff and smooth and elastic. It won’t be sticky. Cover and let it rest, at least 10 minutes, as much as 30 or so – till it starts to rise. It doesn’t have to double. But if you forget about it and it does, that’s OK, just punch it down and proceed.

Now, on your floured work surface, roll that dough out into a pizza pan-sized circle. Next: Fillings! On the half closest to you, leaving room around the edge, layer sandwich-sliced pepperoni, hard or genoa salami (or both!), and lunchmeat ham, alternating with slices of provolone and mozzarella cheese.  Don’t be shy with the cheese; you’ll regret it.  Sprinkle the toppings generously with dried oregano. Fold the other half of the dough over top the fillings, moisten the inside edge of the dough, then crimp with a fork to seal.

Transfer the whole thing to a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal (or flour). With a sharp knife, make a couple of slices on the top of the dough so it doesn’t explode. Because that would be bad.

Bake this in a preheated 375 degree oven for, um, I dunno, 15 minutes? I never time myself. The dough will be golden brown and either there will be cheese oozing out the top or you’ll be able to hear the filling sizzling inside.

Remove from oven, let sit for a few mins before slicing. Serve with your favorite marinara, warmed, for dipping. My favorite brand is Don Pepino in the yellow can. It’s yummy!