Our Pro Cooks Found the Best Taco Seasoning Brands
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Make sure you're shopping for the best taco seasoning options for the most satisfying Taco Tuesdays yet.
Taste of Home
While there are plenty of unique spice blends out there for stocking your spice rack, we bet there’s one you always have on hand: taco seasoning.
This envelope of spices—including cumin, chili powder, onion and paprika—is the special ingredient you need to transform a pound of ground beef into an easy supper or a container of cream cheese into a tempting taco dip.
Yet each time we venture to the store, we look at the aisle full of these spice packets and seem to grab one at random. Since each envelope is priced around a dollar and advertises similar ingredients, it can be really hard to choose the brand that suits your taco preferences and cooking style.
But you know our Test Kitchen wants to know what’s best! So our crew tested nine popular brands.
How We Found the Best Taco Seasoning
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To start this test, our pro cooks shopped for the nine most popular brands of taco seasoning out there on the market—the options you’re most likely to see when you’re out grocery shopping. Then each taco seasoning was used to season ground beef according to the package instructions. Then our Test Kitchen experts sampled the taco filling blindly, judging each according to these criteria:
- Flavor: How does the taco seasoning taste? What spices are prominent here? Is the flavor well balanced? Is it too salty? Spicy?
- Sauce: Taco seasonings are designed to create a bit of sauce when mixed with protein and a bit of water. What is the sauce like with the seasoning? Is it thick enough to coat the beef? Was enough sauce created?
Bear in mind that taco seasonings of all kinds usually contain most of the following spices (and sometimes a few additional seasonings): cumin, chili powder, onion, garlic, oregano and salt. And remember—you can make your own taco seasoning at home too!
Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Taco Seasoning Brands
Nine types of taco seasoning were sampled and four were deemed worthy of your next Taco Tuesday.
Best Overall Taco Seasoning: Old El Paso Original Taco Seasoning Mix
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Need a taco seasoning with some personality? You want Old El Paso Original Taco Seasoning Mix.
This taco seasoning was a standout in our blind test for its excellent combination of flavors and how well balanced the spices were. Old El Paso delivered when it came to the smoky cumin we look for in tacos, but balanced that spice with a bit of chipotle-flavor, chili powder and a bit of pepper. This sauce had a little kick—but not so much that it would offend picky eaters.
Also worth noting with Old El Paso was the sauce that this mix produced. It made the beef nice and juicy, and it wasn’t sloppy to scoop into taco shells or spoon over tortilla chips for nachos. That’s a winner in our Test Kitchen’s book!
Best Kid-Friendly Taco Seasoning: Taco Bell Original Taco Seasoning Mix
Taste of Home
Got kiddos at home? You’ll want to add a few packets of Taco Bell Original Taco Seasoning Mix.
This preferred brand got high marks for a good balance of flavors including paprika, garlic and onion, not to mention this packet created a nice sauce for the taco meat.
This taco seasoning, though, did lack that punch of spice that many of us look for. However, if you’ve got kids at home, you’d likely want to avoid a seasoning blend that’s too spicy. So keep this brand on hand when you’re making tacos for the kids—or want to try a few Taco Bell copycat recipes.
Best Taco Seasoning for Non-Taco Recipes: Lawry’s Taco Spices & Seasonings Mix
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It might sound funny, but Lawry’s makes the best taco seasoning—if you’re not making tacos.
While this spice blend doesn’t deliver the best saucy tacos, it does deliver the flavors our Test Kitchen looks for when it comes to recipes like taco dip, fiesta pinwheel appetizers or tortilla soup.
Lawry’s taco seasoning is full of smoky cumin, chili powder, paprika and onion flavors—all necessary for these taco-inspired dishes. Our Test Kitchen team especially loved how this spice blend gave a bit of a kick at the finish. You can amp up this spicy flavor with a bit of cayenne or by topping your recipes with sliced jalapeños or other hot peppers.
Best Bulk Buy: Tone’s Taco Seasoning Blend
Taste of Home
If you make tacos frequently (or for large groups), you’ll want to snag your taco seasoning in bulk—not the single-batch packets. For regular Taco Tuesdays, our Test Kitchen recommends Tone’s Taco Seasoning Blend.
Tone’s taco seasoning had a very tomato-forward taste and made a nice sauce when combined with ground beef. It’s just the right blend when making big batches of our baked beef tacos, chicken tostadas or convenient walking tacos (always a hit with the kids).
Besides tomatoes, you’ll also pick up on notes of onion, cayenne, garlic and oregano. These spices are a great mix whether you prefer easy ground beef tacos, chicken tacos or even fish tacos. The flavors here are very versatile.
How to Use Taco Seasoning
When you have a pound of ground beef or shredded chicken at home plus one of these packets, homemade tacos are never far away. But you already know how simple it is to put together weeknight tacos with this seasoning blend.
What you might not know is that an envelope of taco seasoning is a passport to all sorts of other recipes. Use one of the best taco seasoning brands to spice up your chicken tender game or to season snacks like pumpkin seeds or homemade chips.
The blend of cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion works really well with so many dishes, so don’t hesitate to reach for this shortcut anytime you want to amp up the flavor. And if you want a bit more heat, try one of the best hot sauce brands according to our Test Kitchen.